GERMAN DRIVER COLLECTS SECOND WIN OF 2018
David Beckmann notched up his second GP3 Series victory in dominant fashion in Race 1, converting pole position at Monza, Italy into a comprehensive win to continue his strong form since joining the Trident team. The German driver crossed the line six seconds ahead of ART Grand Prix’s Anthoine Hubert, who extends his championship advantage as teammate Callum Ilott finished in third.
On a damp track, with pockets of drizzle falling around the circuit, the field unanimously bolted on the wet compound tyre ahead of the start. At the lights, the race began tentatively as the driver struggled for grip off the line, and Beckmann immediately elected to cover the inside line ahead of the first chicane to ward off the threat of Hubert and third-placed Leonardo Pulcini. The latter two missed the opening corner entirely along with a number of other car in a chaotic start, while Beckmann careened over the run-off and managed to keep his lead.
Among a chaotic opening lap, Pulcini briefly overtook Hubert, but conceded control of second on the next visit to the start/finish straight as Beckmann began to build a lead. Meanwhile, the ART duo of Ilott and Nikita Mazepin began their battle for fifth place, which became fourth after the pair overhauled Jenzer Motorsport driver Tatiana Calderon. Pulcini drew nearer into their sights, but the Italian was let off the hook as Mazepin was more concerned with overtaking his teammate.
By the fifth lap, Beckmann was almost five seconds clear of Hubert, while Mazepin’s failed overtake on Pulcini for third – the Russian clattered over the kerbs at the first chicane – left him susceptible once more to the advances of Ilott, who was starting to come under pressure from Campos Racing’s Simo Laaksonen, who also made his way past Calderon in the first half of the race.
Beckmann continued to dictate the pace at the front, dropping Hubert - who at one stage looked perilously close to Pulcini and the cars behind him. The Frenchman stepped up the pace and began to reel in the leader, but Beckmann was able to maintain a comfortable buffer. Ilott soon after found his way past Mazepin, who went too deep into the second chicane on lap 11 to allow the British driver through to fourth.
Hubert’s gap to Beckmann continued to wax and wane, and the leader was able to comfortably extend his advantage whenever the Series leader got to within five seconds. Mazepin was soon back in the battle for fourth after his error, putting Ilott under heavy pressure and bringing Laaksonen along for the ride. However, the Russian driver became increasingly error prone, allowing Ilott to slink off into the distance as Laaksonen began to challenge more seriously.
On the 17th lap, a Virtual Safety Car emerged for Diego Menchaca, who had been hit by Devlin DeFrancesco on the run to turn 1 – who earned a five-second penalty for his efforts. The VSC ended on the subsequent lap, and Campos’ misfortune was compounded after Leonardo Pulcini dropped way down the order two laps later with an apparent problem. Ilott was elevated to third, while Laaksonen clinched fourth from Mazepin on the next trip to the first chicane – Mazepin once more failing to make the corner.
Beckmann, having extended his lead in the final laps and ensuring that he’d set the fastest lap among the top ten, cruised to victory with six seconds over Hubert, with Ilott a further 7.8s behind. Laaksonen held onto fourth for his best GP3 result, as Mazepin absorbed late pressure from Giuliano Alesi to keep fifth place. Pedro Piquet was seventh, ahead of Richard Verschoor – who clinched the reverse-grid pole in only his second GP3 round. Jake Hughes and Niko Kari completed the scorers, despite the latter’s five-second penalty for gaining an advantage by going off-track.