Russell extends GP3 Series Championship lead at Silverstone
ART GP and Mercedes-AMG F1 Junior George Russell extended his lead in the GP3 standings by taking 4th position in the reverse grid race after winning the opening race of the weekend yesterday at Silverstone.
Russell started from eighth position on the grid following his race one triumph at the end of yesterday. An early start to the proceedings today meant the track conditions differed hugely to those experienced in Qualifying and the opening race of the weekend.
Polesitter Dorian Boocolacci was unable to make it to the grid due to a technical issue, meaning Russell actually started a net seventh on the grid for the second race. When the lights went out, in contrast to the first race, Russell made a great getaway - passing rival Alessio Lorandi before they even reached turn one and up into 6th position. Russell then made a bold move around the outside of teammate Anthoine Hubert to take 5th position into the loop section, before defending successfully down the Wellington Straight.
Over the couple of laps, a train of cars developed behind the Jenzer Motorsport car of Arjun Maini - seemingly struggling with pace and acting as a cork in the bottle for the drivers behind. The safety car was deployed on lap four after a collision behind going into turn one. Racing resumed on lap 7 and Russell immediately put Maini under attack as he tried to clear the Jenzer as soon as possible.
Maini's defence became increasingly lairy as the laps reeled off. The BRDC Superstar managed to overtake Maini around the outside at Stowe using DRS to great effect - immediately scampering off into the distance.
Russell then set a ballistic pace in his pursuit of the podium places and Red Bull Junior Driver Niko Kari. Russell set successive fastest laps of the race - nearly one second a lap faster than any of his rivals! The fastest lap earned Russell an additional two championship points to further boost his championship challenge.
By lap 11, Russell was just 0.4s behind Kari and had the podium within his grasp. However Kari was within DRS range of Russell's ART teammate Jack Aitken, meaning an overtake was far from easy!
With two laps to go, the leading quartet were separated by only 1.5s. The leaders all bunched up going into the final lap of the fifteen lap second race. Russell had saved his final DRS usage for the two zones as he attacked Kari for the final podium place. Russell launched a final attack down the Hangar straight, but was just unable to sneak past his rival - settling for 4th position at the checkered flag.
Championship rival and teammates Hubert and Nirei Fukuzumi both succumbed to tough second races, with the former taking home a single point for eighth position in the race, whilst Fukuzumi endured a luckless weekend with no points across the weekend. This has given Russell a nice cushion in the championship standings, as he leaves his home event leading the GP3 Series Championship on 92 points - 35 ahead of his nearest rival.
George Russell "That race was great fun! Going from P8 on the grid to finish P4, taking the fastest lap and being within striking range of a second victory was a brilliant way to end the round at my home race.
Huge thanks to ART GP for such a fantastic car all weekend, as well as all my friends, family and supporters for joining me this weekend. We will have a celebration tonight, but the focus then switches straight onto Budapest in a couple of weeks to keep up the momentum."
The championship heads to the Hungaroring, Budapest in a fortnights time on the 28-30 July for Round 4 / Races 7-8 of the 2017 GP3 Series Championship - with Russell aiming to build upon his very successful test session at the Hungarian Circuit last month, translating it into more points for his title aspirations.