Barnard gambles to win wet F3 race from 10th while Bortoleto closes on title

Formula 3

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Taylor Barnard took advantage of wet conditions to win the Formula 3 feature race in Belgium, in which the top three finishers started no higher than 10th.

Mixed conditions played a crucial role in producing a totally unexpected outcome to the second race of the weekend.

Barnard started in 10th and won ahead of Christian Mansell, who climbed up from 23rd. Nikita Bedrin, who lined up 18th, claiming the final podium position.

The trio arrived in the top places having chosen wet weather tyres for the start of the race on a track which had been soaked by pre-race rain but was forecast to dry out. Most of the leading runners opted for slicks but fell back immediately after the start.

There was drama before the race began as Gabriele Mini spun off during his reconnaissance lap and crashed heavily at Speaker’s Corner, ruling him out of the start. The formation lap was delayed and during the wait many drivers committed to starting the race on slicks, while those with less to lose towards the back of the 30-car grid opted for wet.

Josep Maria Marti started from pole position with Leonardo Fornaroli behind him, but the race began with a rolling start. Marti led away but the 10 drivers behind on wet weather tyres found an immediate advantage. They were led by Paul Aron, who started 11th, but lunged down the inside of turn one and was fourth by the following corner.

The Prema driver continued his charge on wets and was into the lead by Les Combes, passing Marti as he tiptoed through and slid at the exit. It was a similar story for everyone else on slicks. By lap two Aron led Barnard with Mari Boya up to third, while Marti was leading the slick-shod runners in 11th.

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Aron continued to build his advantage and led by 8.8 seconds on lap three. Behind him a battle for the final podium position was developing. On lap four Mansell overtook Boya for the position, but moments later the Safety Car was summoned called after Oliver Goethe spun into the barrier at Raidillon.

With enough of a gap to pit and emerge ahead of those on slicks, Aron was one of several drivers to use this as an opportunity to pit, expecting the track would dry sufficiently before the end of the race to make the call pay off. The Prema team swapped Aron’s tyres and he rejoined in seventh behind six drivers who stayed out on wet weather rubber.

Barnard inherited the race lead, ahead of Mansell and Bedrin with Alex Garcia, Sebastian Montoya and Sophia Floersch completing the top six respectively. At the restart, the wet-shod pack broke away from the rest again.

By the end of the first flying lap Caio Collet had overtaken Aron at turn 10 to lead the chase of those on slicks, but trailed Floersch by 9.2 seconds while Barnard kept the lead. The slick tyre runners continued to scrap, including championship leader Gabriel Bortoleto, who had risen from 19th to 14th by lap 10.

Now Mansell began a charge for the lead. He trailed Barnard by 0.3 seconds and was continuously looking for his opportunity to overtake.

On lap 11 Mansell attempted to pass Barnard on the outside into Les Combes. However their front wheels touched which sent the Campos driver into the escape road. He rejoined the track in the lead but wisely let Barnard through again.

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By now those on slicks were finally starting to set the fastest sector times. But there was life left in the wet weather tyres and Mansell continued his attack on Barnard. He tried again at Les Combes on lap 13, but once more Barnard’s strong defence kept him ahead.

Further back Bortoleto attempted a late charge into the points knowing if he finished ninth, he would be crowned champion. Despite setting the fastest lap, he failed to break into the top 10.

The chequered flag arrived just as those on slicks were beginning to lap much quicker than those on wets, but before they had time to exploit their advantage. Barnard crossed the line 1.3 seconds ahead of Mansell, with Bedrin a further 6.1s behind.

Fourth place for Garcia meant only Mansell stopped the Jenzer team from sweeping the podium places, after their drivers lined up 10th, 18th and 22nd. Collet was the first of the slick tyre runners home in fifth, having passed Montoya and Floersch.

Aron, no doubt ruing his Safety Car pit stop, finished eighth and saw his slim title hopes fade to almost nothing. Marti and Franco Colapinto were the final points scorers.

Bortoleto now leads the championship by 38 points, and needs just one point at Monza in September to claim the title. Aron has now moved up to second in the championship, and is one point ahead of third-placed Marti.

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Formula 3 feature race result

127Taylor BarnardJenzer
224Christian MansellCampos
326Nikita BedrinJenzer
428Alejandro GarcíaJenzer
517Caio ColletVan Amersfoort
614Sebastian MontoyaHitech
729Sophia FloerschPHM Racing by Charouz
81Paul AronPrema
923Pepe MartíCampos
1010Franco ColapintoMP
115Gabriel BortoletoTrident
123Zak O’SullivanPrema
1311Mari BoyaMP
144Maxwell EstersonTrident
157Kaylen FrederickART
162Caio ColletMP
179Nikola TsolovART
1819Tom SmithVan Amersfoort
1912Jonny EdgarMP
208Gregoire SaucyART
2118Rafael VillagomezVan Amersfoort
2225Hugh BarterCampos
2316Luke BrowningHitech
2421Francesco SimonazziRodin Carlin
2531Woohyun ShinPHM Racing by Charouz
DNF20Oliver GrayRodin Carlin
DNF22Ido CohenRodin Carlin
DNF30Roberto FariaPHM Racing by Charouz
DNF6Oliver GoetheTrident
DNF15Gabriele MinìHitech

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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 “Barnard gambles to win wet F3 race from 10th while Bortoleto closes on title”

  1. The formation lap was delayed

    Here we go again…
    Is the Grand Prix still at 1500?

  2. Caio Collet is even better than Max Verstappen! He can race two cars in one race!

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