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MEDIA RELEASE/FIA Formula 3 – Photos: supplied
Liam Lawson continued Hitech Grand Prix’s resurgence at their home event in Silverstone, with his second win of the season, and his first on a Saturday in Race 1. The Kiwi enjoyed a safety car escort to the line, as Oscar Piastri was forced to settle for second place.
Lawson’s victory makes it back-to-back wins at Silverstone for Hitech Grand Prix, after Jüri Vips’ victory at the British circuit in 2019. Last season’s vice-champions had endured a troublesome start to year, failing to finish higher than sixth in Race 1 in the opening three rounds, but the team handed Lawson a hugely competitive car for Round 4.
Starting from the front row for the first time, the Kiwi launched ahead of polesitter Logan Sargeant in the opening laps and brought the win home.
Rising from third, Piastri had been challenging Lawson hard for the win, but two late safety car periods meant he only got a brief window to attack the Kiwi after overtaking his teammate Sargeant. Piastri failed in his first attempt and then saw the window slam shut, as the SC took the field across the line.
Sargeant managed to hold on to third place, while Lawson’s teammate Fewtrell endured a much more torrid time of things at his home event. The Briton dropped down the order from P4 on the opening lap after he was forced wide, before being caught up in a late collision with Olli Caldwell and Lukas Dunner, which resulted in retirement.
Jake Hughes finally took his first full points of the season in the much-improved HWA RACELAB machine, beating out the third PREMA of Frederik Vesti for fourth place.
AS IT HAPPENED
After a rain-soaked opening three rounds of the season, the field had enjoyed a sun-kissed opening day of Round 4 in Silverstone, but the glorious conditions only lasted so long. By the time Saturday morning had come around, the familiar black clouds were looming over the circuit.
The rain stayed away and Sargeant got off the line smoothly. As did Lawson in P2, although he was unable to put together any form of challenge on first place. Lawson may not have been challenging for the lead, but he’ll be pleased to have kept Piastri at bay in third. The Aussie was too busy defending from Fewtrell, who had lunged down the right of him, and Vesti, who dived down the left.
In the end, Vesti eased off, but Fewtrell did not, though the PREMA had the stronger pace, which ensured he came out of the first corner ahead.
The fight with Piastri was where Fewtrell’s day peaked. When the Briton exited Turn 1 behind the Australian, he peered to his left and saw Vesti alongside him. The Hitech racer tried to defend but ran out of road and was instantly on team radio complaining that he had been pushed off track by the Dane. He ended up running through the grass and the gravel trap, returning to the circuit in 23rd place.
Having bided his time at the start, Lawson was now in a position to challenge Sargeant for the lead. The Hitech racer would have expected the American to put up more of a fight, but the PREMA just didn’t appear to have the pace, and Lawson glided down the side of him through Stowe and into first.
Piastri may have thought he was in the clear after seeing the challenge of Fewtrell disappear, but Vesti was instantly behind him. The Dane looked around the outside, but ran out of room, and backed off as he was about to clip his teammate’s rear wing knowing it wasn’t worth the risk.
Their fight gave Piastri the impetuous to push on, and it was case of out of sight, out of mind, as he pulled a gap between them and set his sights on challenging Sargeant for P2. Again, the American was unable put up much of a fight and Piastri smoothly edged ahead of his teammate with the aid of DRS.
The gap between the Championship leader and Lawson in first was a meagre 0.5s and this was quickly cut as he caught up and dived down the side of him at Stowe, but Piastri was shown the curb and his front wheels took off, allowing the Hitech to hold on.
Lawson was given some respite as the safety car made its first appearance of the day, after Jack Doohan and Bent Viscaal ended up in the barriers. The Dutchman had come to blows with debutant Ben Barnicoat and swerved across the track. Watching on behind, Doohan had nowhere to go and collected him, forcing them both into the barriers and out of the race.
The safety car returned to the pits, but only briefly. The back of the field was bunched up and went wheel-to-wheel as racing resumed. Fewtrell nudged the rear of Caldwell in his attempts to pass and spun the Trident around the wrong way at Club Corner. Dunner had nowhere to go and rammed into his rear wing. All three were out of the race, but clambered safely out of their cars.
With just two laps remaining, Lawson enjoyed a safety car escort to the finish line for his second win of the season. Piastri didn’t get another shot at challenging the Kiwi for the win and settled for second, ahead of teammate Sargeant.
Hughes ran home in fourth, narrowly missing out on a podium at his home event, ahead of the of Vesti. Alex Peroni finished where he started in sixth, ahead of Sebastian Fernandez, Clement Novalak, David Beckmann and Alex Smolyar.
Piastri retains his grip on the Championship lead with 94 points, ahead of Sargeant on 64. Lawson leaps to third on 50 points, 0.5 ahead of Beckmann in fourth, while Théo Pourchaire drops down to fifth after finishing 12th and failing to make the points.
In the Teams’ Championship, PREMA sit first with 210.5 points, ahead of ART Grand Prix on 88. Trident are third, with Hitech up to fourth and MP Motorsport fifth.
KEY QUOTE – LIAM LAWSON (HITECH GRAND PRIX)
“We were able to grab the lead early and control the race from there and take the win. I am very, very happy. It is definitely a step in the right direction, but we do still have a bit of work to do. Hopefully we can have a good race tomorrow.”
2020 Round 4 post-Race 1 press conference
THOUGHTS FROM LAWSON, PIASTRI AND SARGEANT
FIA Formula 3: Hello and welcome to the press conference with the top three finishers in Race 1 of this weekend’s FIA Formula 3 Championship round here at Silverstone. We are joined by race winner Liam Lawson for Hitech Grand Prix, in second place is Oscar Piastri for PREMA Racing, and third is Logan Sargeant, also for PREMA Racing. Liam, congratulations. Your second win of the season and done in great style, with the move on Logan and then defending from Oscar as well. Talk us through the race from your perspective.
Liam Lawson: I’m obviously very happy. As I said yesterday, we did a lot of work, mainly for Qualifying because that’s where we’re struggling so far this season. It was nice to have a good quali. The race car today was good. I think we definitely need to work on it. I was struggling a little bit towards the end of the race, but it was basically about managing it. We did a lot of prep for this. I’m really happy and proud of the team for all their hard work.
FIA Formula 3: It was quite a disjointed end to the race with a couple of Safety Cars in there, and then finishing behind it. Did that help today, with the pressure you were coming under, or did you feel you had it under control?
Liam: I wouldn’t say that I felt like I had it completely under control, but the safety car definitely helped. It took away laps and I think we were struggling a little bit more with the tyres. It played to us a little bit today, which was good. I think tomorrow’s going to be interesting with the reverse top ten. I don’t know what it was like for the others following, but it should be an interesting race.
FIA Formula 3: Thank you very much. Oscar, moving on to you. P2 from third on the grid. It was so nearly P1 as you tried to take the lead around the outside. Just talk us through that fight from your perspective.
Oscar Piastri: Liam was quite fast coming onto both DRS straights. I felt that was probably where he was the strongest on the track. That was making my life very difficult. I got a good run on to the Hangar Straight, and it was the best opportunity I had to go to the outside at Stowe. I almost made it work, but it wasn’t quite enough. I had in the back of my head that I didn’t want a shunt there, because we still have another race tomorrow. I didn’t want to throw away all my points for the weekend. It would have been nice to get the win, but it’s still solid points for second.
FIA Formula 3: I was going to say, you still extend you Championship lead with this result. Is that something that’s already on your mind as you look at a race weekend?
Oscar: No. I was fully trying to get that win. I was only taking it a little bit more cautiously for tomorrow’s race. There was no thought about the Championship in that race, I can tell you now.
FIA Formula 3: Well done today, thanks very much. Logan, moving on to you. You started from pole and finished in third place. Still a solid podium, but was the pace slightly lacking compared to these two today?
Logan Sargeant: It was definitely a difficult beginning to the race. I actually had a great start. Came of the line beautifully. Then I struggled to find the grip early on. I was a bit gutted when the Safety Car came because I was starting to find the grip at the end. I think we could have had a strong end to the race. Anyway, it wasn’t good enough in the beginning, so it’s a bit disappointing. It’s a learning day. I’ll go back and look over everything. Starting eighth tomorrow I really need to make up some ground, so we’ll have to look at that and come back better.
FIA Formula 3: Yesterday was obviously very different in the conditions. It was much hotter for Qualifying when you stuck it on pole. Do you feel that maybe had an influence in terms of the pace in the early part of this race?
Logan: It’s hard to say. Like you say, it is two different tracks when you consider the temperature, but I don’t think that was it. Oscar found the grip early on, and we’re definitely on something similar. I think it was maybe more something to do with the warm-up procedure, or something like that. That’s something I need to look at.
FIA Formula 3: Well done today. Liam, just returning to you. How important was this result specifically, given the fact that you’re last three race results were all DNFs?
Liam: It’s nice to finish a race for sure! I think it’s been really tough, the last round especially and the last round at the Red Bull Ring. It’s really good to finish a race and finish strongly. Obviously, we need points right now, so for us race wins is the focus and getting as many points as we can because we’ve got a lot of catching up to do. Championship-wise it’s very important. We’re still a long way back, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.
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