Frenchman Esteban Ocon, had a perfect weekend at the 3.931 kilometres long Moscow Raceway. In the 21st race of the season in the FIA Fórmula 3 European Championship, the 17-year-old Lotus junior driver scored a closely-fought win from Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing) and Antonio Fuoco (Prema Powerteam). With his eighth victory of the season, rookie driver Ocon extended his lead in the FIA Fórmula 3 European Championship drivers’ standings to 116 points.
The safety car was deployed soon after the start following an accident involving several cars. Felix Serralles retired on track after losing the front wing of his car and Roy Nissany had to turn into the pits with a damaged rear wing. Gustavo Menezes also had his car attended to during a brief check in the pits. Meanwhile, Esteban Ocon led the race from Tom Blomqvist, Max Verstappen and Antonio Fuoco.
Racing resumed at the start of lap five and Ocon remained in the lead. Soon after that, three drivers received a drive-through penalty. Due to jump starts, second-placed Tom Blomqvist, Santino Ferrucci and Sean Gelael each had to take one detour through the pit lane. Thus, Max Verstappen moved up to second place, 2.5 seconds down on race leader Esteban Ocon after seven laps.
A few laps before the end, a collision between Lucas Auer and Jordan King brought the safety car out once again. Racing resumed again with less than one minute remaining, leaving only one lap to be completed by the young drivers. On this lap, Verstappen initially overtook Ocon, but then lost his lead again to the Frenchman following a driving error. Ocon eventually took the flag as the race winner with Verstappen in second. For Antonio Fuoco, third place was his second podium finish of the day. Jake Dennis, Felix Rosenqvist, Dennis van de Laar, Tom Blomqvist, Tatiana Calderón, Hector Hurst and Antonio Giovinazzi rounded out the top ten.
Esteban Ocon, (Prema Powerteam): “This time, my start wasn’t as good as in the two races before. After that, I was still able to pull away from Tom Blomqvist, before he got a drive-through penalty and Max Verstappen was the new driver behind me in the race. After the second safety car, things really got exciting once again: Max overtook me, but then came off the racing line and I was able to pass him again. It was a good battle between the two of us”.
Max Verstappen, (Van Amersfoort Racing): “We found a good set-up for this race, with which I was really happy. On the final lap, I simply had to try to overtake Esteban. Unfortunately, I then made a slight driving error and he was able to get past again, but I am also very happy with this second place”.
Antonio Fuoco, (Prema Powerteam): “At the start, I almost managed to overtake Max, but during the course of the race, he was quicker than me. Then, I rather had to look into my rear-view mirrors to make sure that nobody was able to attack me. Scoring two podium finishes in one weekend is a nice result, with which I am very happy”.