Source: F3 – Zane Maloney claimed a second victory of his rookie Formula 3 season with a powerful display across the Circuit Zandvoort. Losing the lead on the opening lap to Victor Martins, the Trident driver bided his time to pounce and saw off late Safety Automobile drama and take the chequered flag first.
Martins made sure the title fight would go right down to the wire because the ART Grand Prix driver kept himself out of trouble to secure the 18 points on offer in second and regain the Championship lead, as Franco Colapinto made a return to the rostrum in third.
Roman Stanek brought home one other decent haul of points in fourth ahead of Isack Hadjar. Crawford recovered from a costly error to complete sixth ahead of Caio Collet and Sebastian Montoya, who collected two points finishes in his debut weekend, while Jonny Edgar took ninth.
Oliver Bearman bulldozed his way up the order after a poor getaway to take the ultimate points-paying position in tenth, meanwhile, his PREMA Racing teammate Arthur Leclerc could only manage to get well as much as 14th.
With the sun peaking over the horizon, it was an early start for pole sitter Maloney as he sought to bring home his second consecutive Feature Race victory. That will be no easy feat, nevertheless, with 4 of the highest six title contenders lining up on the primary three rows. Martins took his place on the front row, ahead of Crawford and Stanek, as Hadjar parked up in P6.
Meanwhile, PREMA’s Bearman and Leclerc faced a frightening fightback on their hands from P14 and P20 respectively.
Martins would have been rubbing his hands with glee because the ART Grand Prix driver nailed his getaway off the road, immediately going side-by-side with Maloney up the within Turn 1. The Trident driver attempted to cover him off but went wide soaring over the kerbs.
Luckily, he was in a position to get well but dropped behind the Frenchman, as Colapinto eyed up the rear end of Crawford’s PREMA.
Further back, Bearman’s day went from bad to worse. A poor start saw the Ferrari Academy junior lose three places at lights out, allowing Leclerc to shut in on his teammate. The Monegasque showed no hesitation in attempting to lunge around the surface of Turn 1 but to no avail.
With the battles showing no sign of settling down, it wasn’t long until the Safety Automobile made its first appearance of the weekend on Lap 4. Brad Benavides was caught out by William Alatalo’s braking point into Turn 2, clacking into his rear end and sending the pair through the gravel and into retirement.
Martins left it late on the restart, stopping Maloney from getting the run-in along Turn 14’s banking and allowing the Frenchman to drag clear along the most important straight. This left the Bajan driver vulnerable to Crawford behind with the Red Bull junior gambling on a move around the surface of Turn 1. Unfortunately, the attempt backfired because the American suffered a heavy lock-up, skirting his wheels across the grass and dropping him right down to ninth.
Several drivers were getting their elbows out to climb up the order. Sprint Race winner Collet muscled his well beyond Edgar up the within Turn 3 for sixth, leaving the door open for Montoya to follow him through past the Trident driver.
It was time for Maloney to repay the favour to Martins for the lead on Lap 12. Occurring a battle of the brakes into Turn 1, the Trident driver repeated the ART’s earlier move to regain his place on the front of the pack. Meanwhile, Crawford was on a recovery charge, swinging his well beyond Edgar and Montoya to steal seventh.
There was little question Martins was starting to struggle. A rough looking left front tyre left him vulnerable to Colapinto behind however the Van Amersfoort Racing driver couldn’t get past him, because the race leader Maloney pulled over a second clear of the chaos behind.
One other curveball would soon be thrown the sphere’s way. Campos Racing’s David Vidales pulled over at Turn 2 to bring out the Virtual Safety Automobile on Lap 17, which became a full Safety Automobile two laps later.
On the restart, Bearman’s charge through the pack continued. The Brit refused to offer in, jostling his well beyond two cars in two corners. In what was probably the move of the season, the red and white PREMA found the limit to dispatch Alexander Smolyar and Grégoire Saucy before barging his well beyond Zak O’Sullivan into the points.
Racing would soon ground to a halt over again, as Rafael Villagómez skidded off into the gravel trap after contact with Juan Manuel Correa to bring out the Safety Automobile on Lap 24. This created a two-lap charge to the tip, and it was Maloney who went early this time around, but Martins was alert to his idea and stayed with him.
It seemed only the finish line could bring an end to Crawford’s rapid pace, because the American moved through into sixth on the ultimate lap after Collet suffered a heavy lock-up into Turn 1. Yet it was all about Maloney who added 25 points to his name and soaked up the celebrations of his second victory of the yr, ahead of Martins and Colapinto.