PALOU TAKES MAIDEN WIN AS OCON IS CROWNED 2015 GP3 CHAMPION
On top of the world! ART Grand Prix and Mercedes junior Esteban Ocon clinched the GP3 crown today at the season finale in Abu Dhabi by finishing in third place, to take the title by eight points from Trident’s Luca Ghiotto. It was also celebration time for Campos Racing rookie Alex Palou who pocketed his debut GP3 win ahead of Carlin and Ferrari Academy Driver Antonio Fuoco.
Palou started from reverse pole alongside Fuoco, but all eyes were on fourth and fifth place on the grid, with Ghiotto starting one position ahead of his title challenger. Ocon had a six point advantage in the Drivers’ Standings with the Italian knowing a win was a must if Ocon was on the rostrum.
It was a clean getaway from the 24 drivers: Palou retained the lead ahead of Fuoco and it was Ocon who made one his traditional good starts. The Frenchman was in the middle of Ghiotto and Koiranen GP’s Matthew Parry (the Brit making a lightning getaway) and made brief contact with them both down the straight and into T1. The trio continued as the fight was on with so much to play for…
Ghiotto quickly passed Parry and set after Ocon knowing he had to finish ahead of him to keep his title hopes alive. Meanwhile at the front Palou was driving a calm and confident race and increasing the deficit back to Fuoco in P2.
On lap six, Jimmy Eriksson joined the fun and he was on the rear of Ghiotto’s Trident machine. At this point, Ghiotto began to fall away ever so slightly from Ocon and more into the clutches of the eager Swede. Palou began to increase his pace up front, while Ghiotto appeared not to be able to match the pace of Ocon in third.
On lap 10 of 14, Ghiotto was almost seven seconds behind race leader Palou and was busy holding off the advances of Eriksson for fourth. Arden International’s Emil Bernstorff also joined the fray in the closing laps as he was hot on the tail of the Koiranen GP star; but he was unable to clear him before the chequered flag.
A jubilant Palou crossed the line for not only his maiden podium in the category, but also his first victory which he achieved by over 4s. It was also the first win for Campos Racing in their debut season – queue smiles all round! Fuoco in second was pleased to return to the rostrum, with the biggest round of applause going to the newly crowned Champion, Ocon, in third who literally bounced his way onto the podium in front of his overjoyed ART Grand Prix crew.
2015 GP3 Series runner-up Ghiotto finished in fourth ahead of Eriksson, Bernstorff, Marvin Kirchhöfer and Pal Varhaug. Kirchhöfer edged Bernstorff in the Drivers’ Standings to finish third overall this season by six points.
ART GP did the double with both the Drivers’ and Teams’ titles wrapped up; and it was Trident who finished runner-up, just ahead of Arden International.
After a superb nine rounds of yet another enthralling GP3 Series season, the action resumes next week on the 02-03-04 December for post-season testing at the Yas Marina Circuit.