Biding his time to make the move stick on reverse pole-sitter Franco Colapinto, Josep María Martí’s took home the glory in the first Sprint Race of the season and claimed his maiden victory in the Championship.
In a frenetic opening race to the year, the Campos Racing driver kept close to the Argentian early on, as the field navigated two Safety Car restarts. With only six laps to go, Martí’s patience paid off, swooping around the outside of the MP Motorsport car to take the lead and finish a comfortable 1.8s clear by the chequered flag.
After battling with Martí over second during the opening stages, Caio Collet kept himself out of trouble to take third in his first race for Van Amersfoort Racing.
As the lights went out, Colapinto and Martí immediately went toe-to-toe into Turn 1, with Colapinto’s defence holding firm against the Spaniard’s attempts to go around the outside. Sweeping into Turn 2, the Campos Racing driver then lost out to Caio Collet, who leaped ahead of him into second.
Trident’s Oliver Goethe nailed his getaway to move up from ninth to sixth. Meanwhile, MP Motorsport’s Jonny Edgar was making overtakes left right and centre, climbing up to 10th from 15th.
Further back in the pack, Rafael Villagómez’s race soon came undone. Battling Gabriel Bortoleto, the pair made contact, pitching the #18 Van Amersfoort Racing car into the wall and bringing out the first Safety Car on Lap 2.
The Safety Car peeled into the pits at the end of Lap 6 and Colapinto left it right to the last second to restart things, catching the field off guard and going clear into Turn 1. Behind him, Martí tried to put the pressure on Collet, but found himself vulnerable to PREMA Racing rookie Paul Aron. The Spaniard eventually got the job done on Collet for second into Turn 4.
Hitech Pulse-Eight’s Luke Browning suffered an early end to his race, getting tagged from behind in the first corner which triggered another Safety Car appearance. Colapinto held the lead ahead of Martí on the restart. With DRS activated, the Campos driver wasted no time putting the Williams junior under pressure. Sailing around the outside of Turn 4, Martí made the move stick and began to pull himself slowly out of Colapinto’s reach.
The time behind the Safety Car meant that tyre degradation was less of a concern. PREMA’s Aron and Dino Beganovic continued to chop and change in the battle for fourth, with the Mercedes junior eventually losing out to the Swede.
Out of DRS range by the final lap, Martí crossed the line to take the victory, as Colapinto had to settle for second. Collet rounded out the podium in third, ahead of rookies Beganovic and Aron. Goethe finished sixth, as Grégoire Saucy secured seventh for ART and Leonardo Fornaroli made it two Tridents in the top eight. Edgar and Hitech Pulse-Eight’s Sebastián Montoya fought back to bring home the final points paying positions in ninth and 10th.
Josep María Martí, Campos Racing
“Really, really happy, I did a great race. Obviously on the first lap, I lost a position to Caio, but then I was able to re-overtake him on the first Safety Car restart. Then it took me some laps to overtake Franco, but in the end, I managed to get through. Obviously took the fastest lap as well on that lap, so I’m really, really happy.
“First win in F3, first podium, so just really, really happy and I’m really proud of the team. We did a really good job over the winter and I’m really proud of everyone who’s been on this journey with me to finally get here.”
Formula 3 Championship
Receiving the 10 points for the victory and the one point available for the fastest lap, Martí leads the Drivers’ Championship ahead of Colapinto, Collet, Beganovic and Aron, who rounds out the top five.
With two drivers finishing inside the top five, PREMA Racing head to the top of the Teams’ Standings. Campos Racing sit in second, tied with MP Motorsport on 11 points. Van Amersfoort Racing are fourth, ahead of Trident.
Formula 3 Schedule
Gabriele Minì will line up on pole for his first F3 Feature Race on Sunday, with fellow rookie Gabriel Bortoleto alongside him. The race will get underway at 11:50 local time.