Lando Norris (Josef Kaufmann Racing) started from pole position at the Red Bull Ring and went on to win the race after a thrilling duel with his main rival, Max Defourny (R-ace GP). The two youngsters swapped the lead on several occasions with the advantage turning in the British driver’s favour. This victory has helped him to increase his lead in the overall classification. Ferdinand Habsburg (Fortec Motorsports) scored a podium finish in the first race on his home turf.
Josef Kaufmann Racing locks out the front row
Lando Norris clinched his third pole of the season under cloudy skies in a qualifying session that was brought to a premature halt by Alex Perullo (Technorace). Norris finished in front of Jehan Daruvala (Josef Kaufmann Racing). Behind these two, Max Defourny and Harrison Scott (AVF by Adrián Vallés) were separated by only a thousandth-of-a second while Ferdinand Habsburg qualified in fifth place.
A great battle for victory
Norris made a perfect start and quickly opened up a gap over Daruvala and Defourny, who were at it hammer and tongs. Second time round Defourny and Habsburg both found a way past the Indian who now led a squabbling pack of cars.
Defourny set off in hot pursuit of Norris and caught him on lap 8. The Belgian took the lead next time round, but Norris fought back and the two swapped first place on several occasions. The Brit kept a cool head and got back in front before the last lap.
Behind Norris, who went on to take the chequered flag, Habsburg passed Defourny, but not for long as the Belgian snatched back second place. Harrison Scott, who was locked in battle with Daruvala for most of the race, finished just outside the top 3 in front of the Indian. Hugo de Sadeleer (Tech 1 Racing) came home sixth followed by Julien Falchero (R-ace GP), Alexey Korneev (JD Motorsport) and Bruno Baptista (Fortec Motorsports). Dorian Boccolacci (Tech 1 Racing), who was given a 10-second penalty for exceeding the track limits which dropped him back to 10th on the grid, completed the points scorers.
Lando Norris: “My start and my first lap were pretty good as I was over two seconds in front. I thought it was all going well given my pace in practice and qualifying, but Max put down the hammer and he soon caught me. He put me under pressure in all the corners and then we exchanged positions on several occasions. I gave everything to hold on to the lead as best I could and I’m very happy to have won the race!”
Max Defourny: “I made a great getaway and then I overtook Daravula on the outside quite quickly. Lando had a good lead, but I managed to catch him after seven laps. As he’s just said we had a fantastic scrap until the final lap which we began side-by-side! I lost a little time and Ferdinand took advantage of this before I fought back. It was a good race and we’ll have to continue pushing to clinch pole tomorrow and see what happens from there.”
Ferdinand Habsburg: “I’m really happy to be on the podium here. I qualified fifth this morning, which was a good performance compared to the tests yesterday. I quickly got past Harrison Scott. Jehan Daruvala and Max Defourny were locked in battle and I took advantage of this and began to push to catch Max who was eating into Lando Norris’s lead. As I had a little in reserve I was able to concentrate on my race and give everything to get back in the tow. I had a brief chance at the end but it didn’t really work out.”
Provisional overall classification*
1. Lando Norris (Josef Kaufmann Racing) 144
2. Max Defourny (R-ace GP) 114,5
3. Dorian Boccolacci (Tech 1 Racing) 96
4. Harrison Scott (AVF by Adrián Vallés) 96
5. Robert Shwartzman (Josef Kaufmann Racing) 46
*subject to the official confirmation of the results after scrutineering and sporting checks.