The last leg of this historic triple header saw the Formula 2 and GP3 talents travel to Silverstone, no doubt keen to end the relentless run of three successive events on a high. And while some achieved just that, others left the Northamptonshire circuit feeling low…
F2 FEATURE RACE
Mercedes youngster George Russell is beginning to shine in Formula 2, and how he would have loved to secure a win in front of his home support at Silverstone. Sadly for the Brit, a slow pit stop ultimately hindered his chances of doing so in the weekend’s opening race, allowing London-born Thai racer Alexander Albon to take his second triumph of the year.
The race seemed to be going smoothly for pole-sitter Russell before he was delayed when making his mandatory pit stop, allowing Albon to inherit the lead. Things got even worse for the home hero, after he picked up a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane. Fortunately his gap over third-placed Antonio Fuoco was enough for him to seal second.
And Russell wasn’t the only Brit to suffer disappointment in front of an expectant home crowd. Lando Norris, the highly-rated McLaren junior, couldn’t get the best out of his Carlin challenger in the opening stages before a stall in his pit lane pushed him to the very back.
He recovered to 11th, which eventually became 10th due to Jack Aitken’s penalty for speeding in the pit lane, but it wasn’t the performance we’ve come to expect from the teenager.
So, did Sunday’s Sprint Race produce a home winner?
Well, a British driver may not have won this race, but two familiar home representatives would have certainly left Silverstone with their heads held high. It was Maximilian Gunther who stood on the top step of the podium, taking his maiden F2 win from reverse-grid pole, but this race will be remembered for superb comebacks from both Russell and Norris.
Russell climbed from seventh on the grid to come home second, executing the perfect game plan to give the home fans some early cheer. The cool-headed Mercedes junior pulled off a string of superb overtakes including Artem Markelov at Village and Nyck de Vries at Copse, capping off a great performance at sunny Silverstone with a deserved podium.
Joining Gunther and Russell on the rostrum was Norris, who produced a similarly superbly-executed performance to recover from 10th on the grid to finish third. It was another a fine display of attacking racing. Markelov and De Vries were again the scalps for Norris, with the Carlin driver passing both at Club to climb into the top three, as shown below.
There was drama after the race when Trident driver Santino Ferrucci hit team mate Arjun Maini on the slow down lap, an incident which led Maini to say on the radio "there is something wrong with my team mate's brain”.
Haas junior Ferrucci declined to attend the stewards' hearing, who heard testimony from Trident that the incident was premeditated, and the driver has been subsequently banned for the next two F2 rounds in Hungary and Belgium.
GP3 FEATURE RACE
An action-filled race, which featured three Virtual Safety Cars and one full Safety Car, was won by Anthoine Hubert, who took his second win of the season to follow up on his inherited Paul Ricard victory.
The pole-sitter produced a mature drive and it was a good day all round for ART Grand Prix, with second-placed Nikita Mazepin and Callum Ilott completing a podium lockout for the French team.
It's a race Niko Kari won't forget either, with the Finn enduring a scary few seconds when his airborne MP Motorsport car performed a wheelie after hitting the Stowe exit curb on the last lap, as shown below.
GP3 SPRINT RACE
It was a battle of legendary names in the second GP3 race of the weekend, where Pedro Piquet – son of three-time Formula 1 champion Nelson – got the better of Jean Alesi’s son, Giuliano, to earn his maiden victory in the series.
Piquet started second on the grid but got ahead of his pole-sitting team mate at Turn 1 to take the lead and he held on for a memorable win, while Ryan Tveter crossed the line in third to complete an all-Trident podium.
DRIVER OF THE WEEKEND – Anthoine Hubert
Having endured a difficult time in Austria – a weekend in which he lost his championship lead - Hubert was no doubt desperate to make amends at Silverstone. He certainly achieved that. The Renault junior claimed his maiden pole in the GP3 series, and that advantage ultimately helped him win the Feature Race in impressive fashion. The Frenchman then produced another controlled performance in the second race, climbing four places to come home in P4 – and he now heads to the next race in top spot again.
THE KEY QUOTE
“It was a great race, and I wanted to put on a little bit of a show for yesterday’s loss of the victory, you might say. I was looking after my tyres in the early stages before attacking quite hard after about six or seven laps. I had a really nice balance with the car, I felt really confident and I knew what I needed to do to save the tyres and we had great grip in the final stages – so that helped me to close the gap up to Maxi. The team were encouraging me to fight for the win, I thought they were joking, but I only finished half a second behind them. But it was a great race, congratulations to Maxi and also to Lando, who had a great race from P10.” – George Russell, speaking after the Sprint Race.
Two podium finishes at Silverstone helped Russell to extend his championship lead over Norris, with 37 points now splitting the pair. Albon moves above Markelov in third as Fuoco jumps into the top five, Sergio Sette Camara the unfortunate driver to drop out.
The top five in F2:
The tables have turned again in GP3, with Hubert leaping above ART team mate Ilott to reclaim top spot. Leonardo Pulcini and Nikita Mazepin remain in third and fourth respectively, while Piquet replaces Alesi in fifth.
The top five in GP3
There's no F2 or GP3 at the German Grand Prix, with the drivers next taking to the track in support of Formula 1 at the Hungarian Grand Prix on July 27-29.
For more information on the FIA Formula 2 Championship, click here.