Winner of an action-packed opening race at Hockenheim, Victor Martins (MP Motorsport) takes his third success on the bounce ahead of rival Oscar Piastri (R-ace GP), whose lead is now just 5.5 points. Third place Caio Collet (R-ace GP) claims his fourth podium and eighth Hankook Trophy this season to clinch rookie of the year honours in the Renault Formula Eurocup.
Martins on pole
Oscar Piastri and Alexander Smolyar (R-ace GP) were the first to head out in wet conditions in qualifying and they set the pace before Victor Martins joined the fray.
The Frenchman led the way with a lap of 1:55.217s when the red flag was shown following the incident of Leonardo Lorandi (JD Motorsport) and the order remained pat at the re-start. Amaury Cordeel (MP Motorsport) also got caught in the session.
A titanic battle at the front
Victor Martins lined up on pole ahead of Oscar Piastri, Alexander Smolyar and Caio Collet with Ugo de Wilde (JD Motorsport) completed the top five.
For the first time of weekend, the field enjoyed dry conditions. Oscar Piastri got off the line better than the pole winner to take the lead under the watchful eyes of Ugo de Wilde, who gained two positions before turn one. The Belgian driver took advantage of the contact between the two leaders at the exit of urn two to take the lead. Behind, Lorenzo Colombo (MP Motorsport) saw his last hope for the title vanish when he spun after light contact with Alexander Smolyar.
The start of the race was marked by the three-way fight for the lead as Ugo de Wilde fended off the successive attacks from Oscar PIastri and Victor Martins. On lap five, the French driver managed to pass his two rivals with a spectacular move before pulling away, leaving them to deal with the hard-charging Caio Collet.
On lap nine, Oscar Piastri moved definitively into second place ahead of Caio Collet and Ugo de Wilde. Meanwhile, there was plenty of action going on in the midfield with the run up the order of Kush Maini (M2 Competition) and Sébastián Fernandez (Arden Motorsport), who won a three-way battle with his team mates Patrik Pasma and Frank Bird.
In solid command of the lead, Victor Martins took the chequers three seconds ahead of Oscar Piastri. Third place Caio Collet collected his eighth Hankook Trophy for the best rookie and 16th consecutive top ten to wrap up the rookie title with three races still to go this season.
Ugo de Wilde came home in fourth place ahead of wild-card entry Grégoire Saucy (R-ace GP), who started eighth, and Sébastián Fernandez, who got around Kush Maini for sixth place on the penultimate lap when the Indian driver locked up his wheels. Patrik Pasma, Frank Bird and Petr Ptáček (Bhaitech Racing) rounded out the top ten while Federico Malvestiti (Bhaitech Racing) picked up the final point on offer.
Victor Martins (MP Motorsport): “This was the hardest race of the year! I got a poor start and found myself behind Oscar at turn one, but I got a better exit out of turn two. I went to the inside, but I locked up the front tyres and we made light contact. My pass for the win wasn’t really voluntary. I just blocked the rear tyres and I would have hit Ugo and Oscar if I didn’t finish the move. Once I was ahead, I just had to manage my lead until the finish. Tomorrow, we will try to repeat our performance in qualifying. The conditions should again be wet, so it will be up to me and I will try not to put too much pressure on myself. The key will be to focus on my pace while avoiding mistakes.”
Oscar Piastri (R-ace GP): “It was hard racing, which sometime went right up to the limit of fair racing, but it is not the result I was looking for despite the nice haul of points in the title fight. I think we were fast, but my opening laps were pretty messy, which is disappointing. I was surprised to see Victor next to my sidepod as I wasn’t expecting him to dive to the inside at that spot, but I managed to keep my head down to move from fourth place to second. As the gap is now so small in the general classification we have to battle and do our very best in each race.”
Caio Collet (R-ace GP): “I am really happy to win the rookie title, which was one of my goals this season. We have steadily improved throughout the year to race for the podium more consistently, but there is more work to do to be on par with Victor and Oscar because they have pulled away as soon as they got back into the lead. I am still satisfied overall. I hope to build on that and take advantage of the duel between Oscar and Victor to have an opportunity to score my maiden victory. I have three races to make it happen!”
|1. Oscar Piastri (R-ace GP)||265|
|2. Victor Martins (MP Motorsport)||259,5|
|3. Alexander Smolyar (R-ace GP)||208|
|4. Lorenzo Colombo (MP Motorsport)||173,5|
|5. Caio Collet (R-ace GP)||173|
*Results subject to confirmation following technical and sporting checks.