Source: F3 – Zane Maloney claimed a second victory of his rookie Formula 3 season with an impressive display around 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 Car drama and take the chequered flag first.
Martins made sure the title fight would go down to the wire as 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 podium in third.
Roman Stanek brought home another decent haul of points in fourth ahead of Isack Hadjar. Crawford recovered from a costly error to finish 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 final points-paying position in 10th, meanwhile, his PREMA Racing teammate Arthur Leclerc could only manage to recover up to 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 would be no easy feat, however, with four of the top six title contenders lining up on the first 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 daunting fightback on their hands from P14 and P20 respectively.
Martins would have been rubbing his hands with glee as the ART Grand Prix driver nailed his getaway off the line, immediately going side-by-side with Maloney up the inside of Turn 1. The Trident driver attempted to cover him off but went wide soaring over the kerbs.
Luckily, he was able to recover 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 close in on his teammate. The Monegasque showed no hesitation in trying to lunge around the outside of Turn 1 but to no avail.
With the battles showing no sign of settling down, it wasn’t long until the Safety Car 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 pull clear along the main straight. This left the Bajan driver vulnerable to Crawford behind with the Red Bull junior gambling on a move around the outside of Turn 1. Unfortunately, the attempt backfired as the American suffered a heavy lock-up, skirting his wheels across the grass and dropping him down to ninth.
Several drivers were getting their elbows out to climb up the order. Sprint Race winner Collet muscled his way past Edgar up the inside of 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. Going on a battle of the brakes into Turn 1, the Trident driver repeated the ART’s earlier move to regain his place at the front of the pack. Meanwhile, Crawford was on a recovery charge, swinging his way past Edgar and Montoya to steal seventh.
There was no doubt Martins was beginning to struggle. A rough looking left front tyre left him vulnerable to Colapinto behind but the Van Amersfoort Racing driver couldn’t get past him, as the race leader Maloney pulled over a second clear of the chaos behind.
Another curveball would soon be thrown the field’s way. Campos Racing’s David Vidales pulled over at Turn 2 to bring out the Virtual Safety Car on Lap 17, which became a full Safety Car two laps later.
On the restart, Bearman’s charge through the pack continued. The Brit refused to give in, jostling his way past 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 way past Zak O’Sullivan into the points.
Racing would soon ground to a halt once more, as Rafael Villagómez skidded off into the gravel trap after contact with Juan Manuel Correa to bring out the Safety Car on Lap 24. This created a two-lap charge to the end, 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, as the American moved through into sixth on the final 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 year, ahead of Martins and Colapinto.