F3: Bearman claims first ever series win in Spa Sprint
Oliver Bearman claimed his first FIA Formula 3 race victory, dominating a drama-filled Sprint Race around Spa-Francorchamps. Roman Stanek and Alexander Smolyar kept themselves out of trouble to take the remaining podium places as the 2022 title race took another dramatic twist.
At the start, pole-sitter Zak O’Sullivan and Carlin team mate Brad Benavides scrapped for the lead on the opening lap, but minor contact between the former and Juan Manuel Correa, who had started alongside the Briton, left both with damage. Benavides inherited the lead before an early Safety Car was deployed.
Ferrari Driver Academy star Bearman had picked off his rivals around the first few corners, and took over the lead of the race after racing resumed, but a second Safety Car turned red flag stoppage brought a halt to proceedings.
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A huge crash between Zane Maloney and Oliver Goethe on the exit of Blanchimont sent both drivers into the barriers heavily. Thankfully, both drivers were able to walk away from the incident unharmed.
On the restart, Bearman scampered off into the distance to leave Benavides to fend off those behind. Jonny Edgar had climbed up to second but was assigned a five-second time penalty for earlier contact that dropped him off the podium by the end.
Championship contenders Isack Hadjar and Victor Martins started in 23rd and 24th places respectively, but it was Arthur Leclerc’s damage limitation drive that was the most impressive. The PREMA Racing man climbed from his P20 starting grid spot to end up fifth at the chequered flag, taking vital points in the title race.
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Martins was hit with a drive-through penalty midway through the race, which cost him dearly and he ended up scoreless. P8 for Hadjar at the flag moved him clear at the top in the Championship, now leading the way outright on 106 points having been tied with Martins ahead of the race. The ART Grand Prix man remains second on 104.
Bearman’s win lifts him to fourth in the standings, now on 90 points and within touching distance of the leaders while teammate Leclerc’s impressive recovery brings his tally up to 101, still in third.
The F3 Feature Race is set to being at 08:50 local time on Sunday morning.
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