23 Jun Action packed weekend at Spa
The FIA Formula Three championship took to the Spa-Francorchamps circuit to contest in the fifth race weekend of the season. Matt Rao and Martin Cao both got off to a promising start. Cao charged through the grid, gaining thirteen positions from thirty-first to eighteenth in the opening lap while Rao, starting in twenty-seventh, gained eight places and progressed to nineteenth. Pietro Fittipaldi, after qualifying in an impressive fourth place, was caught up at the front of the pack and fell back two places.
During the opening stages of the race, Fittipaldi, amidst the formidable group fought well to defend his position but eventually lost three places, putting him in ninth. Meanwhile, both Cao and Rao continued their attack and were able to progress into seventeenth and eighteenth.
Although having lost another place, putting him in tenth, Fittipaldi fought back and by the mid way point, he had regained his position of ninth. Cao and Rao were not as fortunate and fell back into eighteenth and twenty-first place.
With just three laps remaining, Giovinazzi retired from the race resulting in Fittipaldi being propelled into eighth. Fittipaldi was able to hold onto the position, crossing the line in eighth. Cao finished the race in twentieth while Rao closely followed in twenty-third, both having made progress during the race.
The action packed second race of the weekend saw the safety car deployed on three occasions. After qualifying sixth, Fittipaldi was excluded from the session after failing scrutineering when the car did not yield the required 1kg of fuel for a sample. As a result, Fittipaldi had to start both races two and three from the back of the grid in thirty-first.
Although the safety car intervention meant there was little time to race, Fittipaldi nonetheless fought his way through the grid, gaining an impressive ten positions. Rao, starting fourteenth on the grid, lost a number of places in the opening stages, putting him in nineteenth.
Just a few laps in and an incident involving Ling Moreno and Calderón brought out the first safety car of the race.
After the restart, Rao was able to begin regaining places to eighteenth while Cao was in twentieth, after starting nineteenth. Fittipaldi had been able to progress into twenty-seventh. Shortly after, Stroll, Jensen and Rosenqvist collided. As a result, race control sent the safety car out for the second time.
Racing resumed on lap nine and the Fortec trio went in for the attack. Rao progressed to sixteenth while Cao closely followed in seventeenth. Fittipaldi was able to make up a significant number of positions into twenty-third. Only one lap later, Menezes barrel-rolled his car after finding himself unable to avoid a collision with Maïsano. During the third safety car intervention, the drivers made it safely to the finish.
Rao went on to make up another two places, crossing the line in fourteenth. Cao finished the race in twentieth while Fittipaldi finished behind in twenty-first.
The third and final race of the weekend saw Fittipaldi make huge progress throughout the race duration. Starting from the back the grid, Fittipaldi made up numerous gains, charging through the grid to make a top ten finish.
On lap two, Signature driver Boccolacci and Sette Câmara, driving for Motopark, collided which brought the safety car out. With ten laps remaining, Rao and Schiller made contact, causing Rao to retire from the race.
By the half way point, Fittipaldi had continued to charge through the pack, and had progressed up into eleventh. Meanwhile, Cao had not been so fortunate and was racing in eighteenth. In the final stages of the race, Cao had gained two places and crossed the line in sixteenth. Fittipaldi continued to make progress and finished tenth.
Photo – Thomas Suer