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Blomqvist wins from Verstappen, battle for title still open

20-year-old British driver Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) claimed victory in the 29th season race of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship.

He dominated the race at the 4.909 kilometres long Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola and scored a lights-to-flag victory. In bright sunshine, the three years younger Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing) crossed the finish line in second place, having overtaken Italian Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) on the final metres. Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam) finished fourth and is now 84 points ahead of Blomqvist in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship drivers’ standings with four races remaining. Verstappen, who already signed a contract to race in Formula 1 with the Toro Rosso team for 2015, is 96 points down on Lotus Formula 1 junior driver Ocon.

At the start, Tom Blomqvist made the best use of his pole position and took the lead. Antonio Giovinazzi overtook Esteban Ocon for second in the first corner already. On lap three, Antonio Fuoco also managed to find a way past Ocon and thus blew the young championship leader’s hopes of a possible podium finish. At that time, Max Verstappen had already worked his way up to sixth position after having had to start from eleventh place in accordance with the regulations following an engine change. His progress was briefly interrupted on lap seven as a spin by Alexander Toril (ThreeBond with T-Sport) prompted the race director to send the safety car out.

After the restart, Blomqvist remained in front from Giovinazzi and Fuoco. Soon after the field was released again, Verstappen overtook Nicholas Latifi (Prema Powerteam) and then was right behind Esteban Ocon. Two laps later, the Dutchman also overtook the Frenchman. As Fuoco had to pit from third place due to a technical issue, Verstappen even moved up into the top three. However, third place was not enough for the Dutchman: he was so quick that he managed to close up to second-placed Giovinazzi just before the finish. Coming onto the main straight on the final lap, he managed to work his way past the Italian to finish second. Unfazed by the action behind him, Tom Blomqvist drove victory home.

Behind the three drivers on the podium, Esteban Ocon took the flag in fourth place. After 20 laps, Lucas Auer (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) finished fifth from Nicholas Latifi, Jake Dennis (Carlin), Félix Serrallés (Team West-Tec F3), Felix Rosenqvist (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) and Gustavo Menezes (Van Amersfoort Racing)

Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin): “I am very happy with this victory. I reckon that I showed a pretty strong race. My start was good and I succeeded in pulling a gap straight away. After the safety car intervention, I made a good restart and I managed to pull a gap once again. However, my car was also running perfectly throughout the race.”

Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing): “After having made a stupid mistake in yesterday’s race because of not being patient enough, I was determined to do better today and I think I managed to do so. The speed of my car was great and I am very happy to have made it all the way from eleventh on the grid to second at the flag.”

Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin): “All in all, it was a good race for me. After the start, I managed to overtake Esteban Ocon and I was up in second place. I never was close enough behind Tom to mount an attack. Unfortunately, Max Verstappen still caught me on the final metres, but I am also happy with third place in my home race.”