Colapinto leads one-two for Williams juniors in incident-filled F3 sprint race

Formula 3

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Franco Colapinto won a stop-start Formula 3 sprint race which finished under a fourth Safety Car period in Melbourne.

The Williams junior started in sixth, but took control of the race after a brilliant pass on Sebastián Montoya through the turns nine and ten complex in the early stages.

He subsequently survived two safety car restarts for his first victory of the season and was joined on the podium by Zak O’Sullivan, also a Williams junior, and Montoya in an incident-packed sprint race.

After Gabriel Bortoleto was fastest in a red-flag affected qualifying, Sebastián Montoya lined up in pole on a partially-reversed grid for F3’s first ever Melbourne outing.

The Hitech driver made an excellent start and the wheel-to-wheel battling behind him allowed Montoya to build a sizeable lead. However, the drivers failed to make it beyond sector two before the Safety Car was deployed on lap one.

Approaching turn three, Luke Browning hit the back of Oliver Goethe during his attempt to take second place, causing a rear-right puncture on the Trident car. Now unable to turn, Goethe skidded off and became stuck in the gravel.

On the lap three restart, Montoya kept the lead but behind him was a fast Browning who didn’t take long to challenge his team mate for first. However, his attempt to take the lead on lap five ended badly.

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Browning took a look down the inside of the high-speed turn nine but found little room and bounced over the kerb. His poor exit caused him to drop to fifth. Moments later Caio Collet, who had been running in the other podium position, fell to the back after Paul Aron inflicted a puncture on his car while trying to pass around the outside of turn 13.

That promoted Colapinto and O’Sullivan into second and third respectively. But where Browning had failed, the MP Motorsport driver succeeded after Colapinto’s move down the inside of turn nine gave him the lead on lap six.

Yet before the lap’s end, a second safety car period was called after a mistake by Ido Cohen. While running outside of the points, the Rodin Carlin driver hit the wall and slid into the gravel at the outside of turn 11.

Colapinto kept the lead once conditions went green again on lap 11, but the race was brought to another halt before it really got going. On lap 12, home crowd favourite Tommy Smith hit the wall at the final corner heavily damaging the back of his car, and he came to a stop in the gravel at turn one. A third Safety Car period was therefore called on lap 13.

Browning’s race had gone from bad to worse. Following his attempt to overtake Montoya on lap five, the Hitech driver had fallen to 11th and voiced his frustrations on the radio.

He suffered another blow when the stewards announced he had been given a 10-second time penalty for hitting Goethe on the opening lap. The infuriated Browning remarked on his radio that he “should have just sat behind Montoya”, then asked to retire.

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The race got going again on lap 17. Colapinto made an excellent restart and was leading by 0.7 seconds before the final sector. Unable to challenge for the lead, Montoya was instead under pressure from O’Sullivan behind.

The following lap, with Colapinto leading by 2.3 seconds, O’Sullivan made his move on the outside of Montoya for second at turn 13. He toughed it out, brushing wheels with his rival, and claimed the place.

A lively battle between two team mates unfolded on lap 19, after Aron forced fellow Prema driver Dino Beganovic wide at turn three in their battle for fourth. Beganovic, frustrated by his poor exit, lost fifth to Gabriele Mini.

Simultaneously, a mistake from Alex Garcia caused the fourth and final Safety Car period. The Jenzer Motorsport driver locked up and hit the barrier at turn three on the penultimate lap, becoming the race’s fourth retirement.

Without enough time to restart the race, Colapinto crossed the line in first under the Safety Car. he was joined on the podium by fellow Williams academy driver O’Sullivan, Montoya took third and Aron fourth. Mini kept his fifth place ahead of Beganovic, followed by Bortoleto, Leonardo Fornaroli, Mari Boya and Grégoire Saucy.

The victory lifts Colapinto to fourth in the championship, 11 points behind leader Bortoleto. Beganovic is currently second on 27 points, four ahead of Goethe in third after three races.

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Formula 3 Australia race one results

110Franco ColapintoMP
23Zak O’SullivanPrema
314Sebastian MontoyaHitech
41Paul AronPrema
515Gabriele MinìHitech
62Dino BeganovicPrema
75Gabriel BortoletoTrident
84Leonardo FornaroliTrident
911Mari BoyaMP
108Gregoire SaucyART
1112Jonny EdgarMP
1224Christian MansellCampos
137Kaylen FrederickART
149Nikola TsolovART
1527Taylor BarnardJenzer
1623Alexander SmolyarMP
1718Rafael VillagomezVan Amersfoort
1826Nikita BedrinJenzer
1929Sophia FloerschPHM Racing by Charouz
2016Luke BrowningHitech
2130Roberto FariaPHM Racing by Charouz
2225Hugh BarterCampos
2320Oliver GrayRodin Carlin
2417Caio ColletVan Amersfoort
2521Hunter YeanyRodin Carlin
2631Piotr WiśnickiPHM Racing by Charouz
2728Alejandro GarcíaJenzer
2819Tom SmithVan Amersfoort
2922Ido CohenRodin Carlin
306Oliver GoetheTrident

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Ed Hardy
In 2019, Ed started working on Formula 1 writing articles during race weekends. Alongside that, he also built up experience in football working on...

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2 comments on “Colapinto leads one-two for Williams juniors in incident-filled F3 sprint race”

  1. Tiaki Porangi
    1st April 2023, 4:05

    Had never watched a full F3 race before, today was the first.
    Surprised me – it was a really good race! Had it all – I’ll watch a few more now!

    1. F2 and F3 races are always better than F1.

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