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Esteban Ocon takes lights-to-flag win

Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam) was back on the top step of the podium at Imola. The 18-year-old Frenchman won the 28th race of the season and also wrapped up the title in the rookie classification of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship.

In the 20 lap race, British drivers Jordan King (Carlin) and Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) finished second and third. Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing), who came to Italy in second place in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship drivers’ standings, retired after a chaotic race. As a result, the 17-year-old Dutchman, who participated in his first free practice session in Formula 1 last week, lost his second place in the championship to Tom Blomqvist who is now 97 points behind the leader.  
The safety-car was deployed on the opening lap following a collision between Santino Ferrucci (Fortec Motorsports) and Hongwei Cao (Fortec Motorsports). At that moment, Esteban Ocon was in the lead after a good start from pole position. Jordan King was in second place followed by Tom Blomqvist and Felix Rosenqvist (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport).
After the restart, Ocon shot to the front again and was soon able to open up a slight gap over his main rival Jordan King. While the Lotus F1 junior driver controlled the race from the front, his rival in the battle for the title, Max Verstappen, had to work his way up through the field. Following an engine change in the previous round at the Nürburgring he was put back ten places on the grid for the first and second race at Imola in compliance with the regulations, the Dutchman started from 15th place on the grid. After one lap, he was already ninth and continued to push. A mistake while attacking Jake Dennis (Carlin) cost Verstappen two positions. Soon after that, Antonio Fuoco (Prema Powerteam) pushed him into the gravel trap and the Van Amersfoort driver dropped out of the top ten. Following another collision with Roy Nissany (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport), he had to retire in the pits with three laps remaining.
Up front, Ocon drove on to his ninth victory of the season followed by King and Blomqvist. Rosenqvist finished fourth from Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin), Lucas Auer (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport), Jake Dennis, Félix Serrallés (Team West-Tec F3), Tatiana Calderón (Jo Zeller Racing) and Sean Gelael (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin).
Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam): “Pole position certainly helped me to take the lead after the start. After that, I immediately managed to open up a gap over Jordan. After the restart, the situation was similar. When Jordan increased his speed during the race, I had to take a few more risks to maintain the gap.”
Jordan King (Carlin): “I didn’t make the best of starts and throughout the race I never managed to get close enough to Esteban to be able to mount an attack. But second place is a pretty good result.”
Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin): “After the restart, I had to defend my position from Felix Rosenqvist, which I managed to do. Thus, I held on to third and that’s where I finished. Before the race, we made some changes to the set-up of my car and I needed some time to get used to it.”