LYNN FLIES TO SPRINT RACE VICTORY
When the lights went out the Williams tester was gone: Lynn easily claimed the lead of the race into Turn one from the front row when poleman Antonio Giovinazzi was slow off the line, pushing Pic wide into the first turn as Oliver Rowland slid inside for P2 and Gustav Malja squeezed inside his teammate for P4, with Sirotkin moving up two spots from 8th ahead of a fierce battle between countrymen Raffaele Marciello and Luca Ghiotto for the final points positions.
As the race shook itself out Pierre Gasly, who started last on the grid after being disqualified from yesterday’s Feature Race due to a fire extinguisher failure, was already looking to claw something back from his weekend and was up to P14 by the end of the first lap. Just ahead of him Norman Nato and Nabil Jeffri were squabbling for position, with the pair clattering together over the kerbs, with the Frenchman out on the spot and the Malaysian limping back to the pits as the first VSC period commenced.
The top six were nose to tail as the race ran live on lap 8, with Lynn easing away as a train formed behind Rowland: eventually Giovinazzi had a go at Turn 5 but lost his front wing components on the back of the Briton’s car and didn’t have enough downforce to avoid the gravel trap, prompting another VSC period to remove the Italian’s stricken car. When the race ran live again on lap 15 Lynn had a big enough gap to easily hold the restart, but a train had formed behind Malja, now up to P3 on track.
Sirotkin tried in vain to get by at the restart and was soon biding his time for his tyres to make a difference: four laps later he ran around the outside of the Swede at the hairpin and was on the podium and looking for more. The Russian threw everything he had at Rowland, who was equal to the task until lap 23, when Sirotkin faked an outside move on the Briton before slicing inside and through at the hairpin, running side by side with Rowland until they reached the final complex where the Russian finally made the move stick.
And with the race coming to an end tyres were impacting the order up and down the race, but Lynn sailed on serenely: the Briton eased off late in the race to win by 3 seconds from Sirotkin, whose win and second place promoted him to the top of the drivers’ standings. Pic rounded out the podium by following in the Russian’s wake as he forced his way forward, with Ghiotto in P4 after a number of late race overtakes. Rowland held on despite tired tyres for 5th, ahead of a barnstorming drive by Gasly for P6, and Marciello held on for 7th ahead of Malja, who ran wide at Turn one late in the race and paid a high price but grabbed the final point at the expense of Artem Markelov, who had a time penalty for speeding in the pitlane.
A stunning weekend by Sirotkin and a disappointing penalty for Gasly saw the drivers’ standings shift once again, with the pair both on 113 points: the pair both have 2 wins and 2 seconds, but an extra third place give the Russian bragging rights going into the summer break, with Marciello third on 102 points from Giovinazzi on 100 and Rowland on 99. In the teams’ standings ART Grand Prix have closed the gap to leaders PREMA Racing, 213 points to 171, ahead of RUSSIAN TIME on 167 points, Racing Engineering on 161 and MP Motorsport on 105 points as the paddock recharges ahead of the next round at Spa-Francorchamps.