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F3 Feature Race Results: Bahrain

Big points were up for grabs in the first Feature race of 2023. Find out who took the chequered flag first

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Gabriel Bortoleto took his maiden victory in FIA Formula 3, securing the Championship lead following the first of ten rounds this season.

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Gabriel Bortoleto (#5, Trident Racing) lined up alongside Gabriele Mini to start the first Feature race of the 2023 season on the front row (Image Credit: @FIAFormula3 on Twitter)

Gabriele Mini in the #15 Hitech Pulse-Eight car started the 22-lap race on the front row following an impressive pole position on Friday. Alongside him was Brazilian driver Gabriel Bortoleto for Trident Racing. Both drivers had a Sprint race to forget, with Mini stalling at the start and Bortoleto falling down the field after a collision with Rafael Villagomez which sent the latter crashing out of contention.

The two drivers were looking to make amends in the Feature race, but were they to be challenged by the other 28 drivers behind them on the starting grid? Read on to find out!

Opening laps

The best start was achieved by Bortoleto, who managed to get better traction off the line to bound past Mini on the run up to the first corner. Mini’s exit out of turn 3 was compromised, allowing the experienced Gregoire Saucy to also make his way past the Italian driver and into second.

The Sprint race winner yesterday, Pepe Marti, got off to a solid start, moving from 11th on the grid to 9th by the end of the first lap.

Bortoleto put the hammer down early on, breaking out of DRS range for Saucy by the end of the second lap. Further behind we saw an opportunistic move from the Prema car of Paul Aron on Jonny Edgar, going wide at turn 1 but making it stick to claim ninth position.

The race develops

Mini continued to stick right to the gearbox of Saucy. Utilising DRS to full effect, the former completed a stunning move around the outside of turn 4 of the ART Grand Prix driver to reclaim second.

The #25 car of Hugh Barter suffered from a right-rear puncture on lap five following the slightest of contacts with Edgar. With Edgar coming into the pits to fix damage, both drivers moved to the foot of the field.

By the end of lap six, Bortoleto was over three seconds ahead of second-placed Mini, with the gap increasing by around half a second per lap.

Yellow flags were waved at sector two on lap seven, Tommy Smith and Mari Boya colliding. The latter driver subsequently suffered a suspension failure, pulling off to the side of the track and bringing out the Safety Car.

Race restart

Bortoleto would have been disappointed to see his significant lead shrunk to just a few metres as the Safety Car brought the field close together. He had been pushing hard and eating at his tyre life to gain such a commanding lead; was he going to fall down the order at the restart?

The race resumed on lap ten, Bortoleto just about holding onto the lead into turn 1. But Bortoleto was clearly struggling with tyre wear, Mini making it into the lead through the left-right sequence on the same lap.

But bad news for Mini! Due to incorrect positioning on the starting grid, the Hitech Pulse-Eight driver was on the receiving end of a five-second time penalty. He would have to pull out at least a five-second gap to second place to secure the victory.

In the lower points positions, Marti was still making his way up the field, a solid move coming up to turn 4 on Fornaroli granting him seventh place. Oliver Goethe in the #6 Trident car was determined for a podium finish, sticking right behind Saucy. He finally made a move on the Frenchman with the help of DRS at the start of lap 15.

Closing laps

Bortoleto continued to stay within DRS range of Mini. Goethe was fighting stay within five seconds of Mini, aware of his chance to finish second once the penalty would be applied to the Hitech driver’s time.

Mini finally broke the DRS on lap 19, but this was for nothing as a collision between Smith and Floersch broke the former’s suspension and brought out the Safety Car for a second time. With the field all bunched up, his penalty brought him all the way down to eighth. Bortoleto cruised to the finish line to claim first, his maiden win in the series. Goethe secured second, with Beganovic taking the final podium spot.

An impressive race from Luke Browning for Hitech, moving up ten positions through the race to finish in fifth.

The second round of the 2023 Formula 3 season will take place in just under a month’s time; a maiden visit to the streets of Albert Park in Australia for the feeder series.

Feature race final classification

Full results can be found here.

Feature Image Credit: @FIAFormula3 on Twitter

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