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F3 Feature Race Results: Austria

Plenty of action in the preceding Sprint race; would the all-important Feature provide similar levels of entertainment?

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Zak O’Sullivan, driving for Prema Racing, took the chequered flag first to win the Feature race in Austria. Gabriel Bortoleto finished just behind while Caio Collet rounded out the podium.

The Sprint race podium, consisting of Paul Aron (centre), Gabriele Mini (left) and Caio Collet (right) (Image Credit: @Formula3 on Twitter)

Weather played a pivotal role in the Sprint race, but it seemed as though the rain would stay clear of the Red Bull Ring for the Feature.

Mercedes Academy driver Paul Aron won the race and claimed the fastest lap to take home 11 points, while Gabriele Mini and Caio Collet came second and third respectively.

Aron spoke to FormulaNerds after the Sprint and was ecstatic. He exclaimed: “Starting from the back of the grid and fighting through the pack with amazing pace, I really enjoyed the race and finally we got the win. So yeah, super happy and tomorrow’s another day.”

Friday’s Qualifying session determined the starting grid for this race, with ART Grand Prix’s Gregoire Saucy lining up alongside Dino Beganovic on the front row.

Championship leader Gabriel Bortoleto of Trident Racing would set off from third, with closest rival Pepe Marti all the way down in 12th position.

Further penalties were handed out to a couple of drivers after the race on Saturday. Oliver Gray received a five place grid drop for his collision with Rafael Villagomez while Nikita Bedrin received ten additional seconds to his race time for his contact with Leonardo Fornaroli.

A big haul of points on the line for the Feature race. Would Saucy hold on from pole or would someone else snatch the win away from the experienced Frenchman? Read on to find out.

Opening laps

All 30 drivers chose to race with stickers bearing the words “Racing for Dilano”, in memory of the 18-year-old Formula Regional driver who sadly lost his life while racing yesterday.

Alex Garcia unfortunately stalled on the formation lap, meaning the Jenzer Motorsport driver would have to start from the pit lane.

A solid start from polesitter Saucy, as the top four remained the same through the first sector.

Bortoleto defending third from yesterday’s winner Aron, while Mini unfortunately tagged the back of his teammate Luke Browning. Both drivers were out of the race, Mini stuck in the gravel and Browning with a puncture. The latter trundled back to the pits from a fresh set of tyres, albeit down in 29th place.

Safety car restart

The Safety car came out to allow the marshals to remove Mini’s stricken Hitech Pulse-Eight. It peeled back into the pits at the end of lap four, with Saucy maintaining the lead at the start of the fifth lap.

The whole grid pretty much line astern as the DRS was enabled. Beganovic just a few tenths back on Saucy with Bortoleto stalking behind in third.

Beganovic briefly alongside Saucy in the runup to Turn 3, but later braking from the latter allowed him to keep the lead. But Beganovic would have the DRS again up to Turn 4, as he streaked past the polesitter to claim the lead of the Feature race.

The race develops

Aron pushed teammate Zak O’Sullivan wide in the second sector on lap eight, the Williams Academy driver dipping two wheels on the gravel and losing significant time down in fifth.

Aron was now looking in front, as he tried to make a move on Bortoleto for the final podium spot. He made it stick on the exit of Turn 4 on lap 10.

Beganovic hopped on the team radio to say his tyres were starting to lose grip, which enticed Saucy in second to challenge for the lead.

Damage to the front wing of Aron, prompting him to fall down the field. It was contact with the rear tyre of Saucy which caused this, which further lead to a puncture for the polesitter. A disastrous race for the Frenchman, as he was forced into the pits.

Meanwhile Beganovic and Bortoleto were battling it out for first position. Aron was eventually called into the pits to replace his front wing, dangling precariously on one side.

O’Sullivan was sitting patiently behind the top two, and took full advantage of a slight error from Beganovic to move up to second. One lap later, and O’Sullivan had taken the lead, a brilliant move on the inside of Turn 4 on lap 15.

Beganovic’s tyre woes were compounding, as Franco Colapinto snatched the final podium spot from the Swede.

Contact between Mari Boya and Kaylen Frederick, with a similar result to Aron and Saucy beforehand. Damaged front wing for Frederick, puncture for Boya. It would be a pointless race for both drivers.

Collet through on Beganovic on lap 18, with the latter losing yet another place on the same lap to Sebastian Montoya in a nail-biting battle for fifth.

The closing stages

Things had calmed down at the head of the field, with O’Sullivan holding the lead from Bortoleto. But it seemed as though the Championship leader was deliberately holding back for a last-ditch move on the final couple of laps.

Four laps remaining, and a few interesting developments for the minor points positions. Could Hugh Barter score his maiden points in the feeder series, or would Sophia Florsch snatch the final points position from the Australian?

Lap 23 saw Montoya through on Collet for fourth. The Colombian had started the race in fifteenth; could he mount a late charge for a podium finish?

As expected, Bortoleto attempted a move on O’Sullivan with a couple of laps to go. It didn’t work, allowing Colapinto and Montoya to close in on the leading pair. Less than two seconds separating the top four on the final lap, who would take the win?

Montoya and Colapinto side-by-side on the final sector, but it wouldn’t end well for either driver. Contact sent Montoya onto the gravel and slowed Colapinto down, allowing Collet to claim back-to-back podiums. O’Sullivan held onto the lead to win with Bortoleto another assured drive for second. Montoya eventually dragged his car home in tenth.

Feature race final classification

Full results can be found here.

Feature Image Credit: @Formula3 on Twitter

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