After briefly losing the lead to his nemeses Esteban Ocon in a fiercely contested title battle, Luca Ghiotto fought back to take a commanding victory in Sakhir from fourth on the grid. The Italian held a comfortable 2s margin over the Frenchman from ART Grand Prix to return to the head of the Drivers’ Standings meaning the championship will be decided at the final round in Abu Dhabi next weekend. Koiranen GP’s Matthew Parry was third.
ART Grand Prix and new Sahara Force India F1 Development driver Alfonso Celis. Jr started from reverse pole. The Mexican made a good start to retain the lead into Turn One. Ghiotto was clearly fired up: the Italian started from P4 and passed Celis. Jr into Turn 2 to take the lead. Carlin’s Jann Mardenborough who started from the front row was not so lucky; a slow start meant he fell into the pack and he received contact which sent the Brit running wide and into an early retirement.
In the meantime, yesterday’s race winner Marvin Kirchhöfer also made a brilliant start from P8 to P3 on the opening lap. His teammate Esteban Ocon found a way past Trident’ Artur Janosz with the ART GP cars running in second to fourth. The safety car was deployed for an incident between Status Grand Prix’s Sandy Stuvik and Jenzer Motorsport’s Matheo Tuscher at Turn 14. This soon turned into a red flag due to the marshals having to remove Stuvik’s car which was buried into the barrier. The cars returned to the pitlane to wait for the race to continue.
The safety car led the field round at the re-start and once the action resumed Ocon wasted no time in passing his teammate Kirchhöfer at Turn 1. Celis. Jr was his next victim as the Mercedes junior set after his title rival Ghiotto. The Italian was busy lighting up the timing screen to post fastest laps with a 1.9s lead over the Frenchman on lap six. Koiranen GP’s Mathew Parry who started P11 on the grid was also busy carving his way through the field and was up to fourth on lap 8 after overtaking Arden International’s Emil Bernstorff. There was a great duel between Jimmy Eriksson and Artur Janosz for the final point on offer with the Swede successfully passing the Pole. The Trident rookie then began to fall back through the field after an excellent start to the race.
Parry who had looked racy from the get-go found himself in a podium spot after overtaking Celis. Jr on lap 10. Ghiotto continued to control the race with a 2s lead over Ocon and the Italian maintained this advantage to the chequered flag to win by 2.3s. Ghiotto, Ocon and Parry completed the podium, with Bernstorff, Antonio Fuoco, Kirchhöfer, Eriksson and Celis. Jr rounding out the top eight. You don’t have long to wait for the final round of the Series as Round 9 takes place at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu next week on 27-29 November. The Teams’ Championship has been won this weekend by ART Grand Prix but the driver’s elusive GP3 crown is still up for grabs.