Carlin’s Tom Blomqvist and Van Amersfoort Racing’s Max Verstappen finished FIA F3 race two at Imola in first and second to keep their respective title hopes alive.
Blomqvist drove a controlled race from pole to claim his fifth win of the year, while Verstappen battled his way up to runner-up from 11th on the grid, having served the final of his three ten-spot grid drop penalties.
The start saw poleman Blomqvist keep his lead off the line, while his squadmate Antonio Giovinazzi successfully challenged championship leader Esteban Ocon for second.
While Blomqvist was pulling away from Giovinazzi out front, Verstappen began climbing his way through the field. He was eighth after lap one, soon cleared Jake Dennis for seventh and overtook Will Buller for sixth shortly thereafter.
Meanwhile, points leader Ocon was not having it all his way as he came under pressure from teammate Antonio Fuoco, who then found his way past the Frenchman.
As the race leader pulled out a three-second gap in the early stages, he would soon find himself having to do it all over again as the safety car came out for the beached car of Alex Toril.
The top three stayed in position after the start, but it was Verstappen who was setting the pace behind – the Dutchman cleared Nicholas Latifi right away for fifth and then overtook Ocon round the outside into Variante Tamburello to bring himself back into championship contention.
The soon-to-be F1 racer would then inherit a podium spot when a slow puncture for Fuoco ruled the Italian out of contention, much to the chagrin of the local fans.
In the closing stages of the race, as Blomqvist was back to leading comfortably and eventually took the checkered flag in first, Verstappen began quickly gaining on Giovinazzi and managed to beat the Carlin man to the line by 0.02s of a second on the final lap.
Ocon settled for fourth, while Lucas Auer picked off Latifi to claim fifth, having fought his way up from ninth after the opening lap.
Dennis finished seventh, whilst Felix Serralles, Felix Rosenqvist and Gustavo Menezes rounded out the top ten.
In the standings, Ocon now leads with 439 points to Blomqvist’s 455 and Verstappen’s 443. Both of them will need to significantly outscore the Frenchman in the final Imola race to keep the title fight going as there will be just 75 points left up for grabs coming into the final round.
|1||Tom Blomqvist||Jagonya Ayam with Carlin||20 laps in 35:13.491|
|2||Max Verstappen||Van Amersfoort Racing||+4.263|
|3||Antonio Giovinazzi||Jagonya Ayam with Carlin||+4.282|
|4||Esteban Ocon||Prema Powerteam||+7.743|
|5||Lucas Auer||kfzteile24 Mucke Motorsport||+10.029|
|6||Nicholas Latifi||Prema Powerteam||+12.497|
|8||Felix Serralles||Team West-Tec||+17.388|
|9||Felix Rosenqvist||kfzteile24 Mucke Motorsport||+19.089|
|10||Gustavo Menezes||Van Amersfoort Racing||+19.746|
|11||Dennis van de Laar||Prema Powerteam||+22.246|
|12||Nick Cassidy||ThreeBond with T-Sport||+23.867|
|14||Tatiana Calderon||Jo Zeller Racing||+26.979|
|15||Jules Szymkowiak||Van Amersfoort Racing||+32.283|
|16||Sean Gelael||Jagonya Ayam with Carlin||+32.689|
|18||Spike Goddard||ThreeBond with T-Sport||+35.384|
|20||Sergio Sette Camara||EuroInternational||+37.902|
|21||Roy Nissany||kfzteile24 Mucke Motorsport||+37.932|
|22||Chang Wing Chung||Team West-Tec||+37.949|
|23||Sandro Zeller||Jo Zeller Racing||+42.918|
|24||Hong Wei Cao||Fortec Motorsports||+43.106|
|25||Antonio Fuoco||Prema Powerteam||+1 lap|
|Will Buller||Signature||+7 laps|
|Santino Ferrucci||Fortec Motorsports||+8 laps|
|Alexander Toril||ThreeBond with T-Sport||+14 laps|