George Russell is 2017 GP3 Series champion; Maini finishes outside points in both races

By | October 8, 2017

George Russell wins GP3 Series title with a P5 in the Sunday’s race. Image from GP3 Series

Jerez: George Russell managed to finish fifth in Race 2 and grabbed enough points to take a 50-point lead in the championship which virtually sealed his championship on Sunday morning at the Circuito de Jerez. Thus he became the 2017 GP3 Series Champion with one round remaining in the season.

Meanwhile, Arjun Maini of Jenzer Motorsport finished 13th, 6.576 behind the winner. Earlier in Race 1 on Saturday, Maini could only finish 17th. With no points from these two races, the Indian driver remains on 53 points with one round to go.
Alessio Lorandi claimed his first GP3 Series win with a strong race from pole to flag , leading home Dorian Boccolacci and Niko Kari. In sunny and warm conditions, Lorandi got away well when the lights went out and easily contained Boccolacci and Kari into turn 1 before the trio ran together all the way round the circuit. Then the Italian started to build a small but significant gap to his rivals as Anthoine Hubert and Dan Ticktum started to close in, with the Frenchman running wide on lap 2 to clear a path into P4 for the Briton.
If the leaders were focused on their shot at victory, all other eyes were on the fight for the title: Russell started behind Jack Aitken but forced his way past at Dry Sac, with the Renault junior driver running slightly wide at the exit and allowing Nirei Fukuzumi to run through too. When Russell grabbed the fastest lap the potential points difference was 47, 1 short of a title confirmation, but with Giuliano Alesi just 0.5s behind Aitken anything could still happen.
Up front Lorandi was easily controlling the pace, running his own lines and looking comfortable even if he was unable to break the 1s DRS barrier back to Boccolacci, who had a similar problem with Kari. Aitken was pushing hard to grab the fastest lap but was unable to close down the time set by Russell, and with the laps rolling down it looked as though the fight was going to continue to Abu Dhabi.
But on lap 13 Ticktum, who had been fast all weekend and was looking for more than another P4, pushed hard and got inside Kari, towing Hubert with him as they ran 3 wide into turn 4, where there was only space for 2: Ticktum was into the gravel and retirement, Kari just held off an attack from Hubert, the safety car was out to allow the marshals to retrieve the stranded DAMS, and the points bump meant that the gap from Russell to Aitken was now 50, enough to claim the title.
The race restarted for the final lap, with Lorandi comfortably controlling Boccolacci and Kari for his maiden win, with Hubert leading home his ART teammates Russell, Fukuzumi and Aitken, the latter two having a look at Russell at Dry Sac but unable to make anything stick, with Alesi rounding out the points in P8 as Jenzer celebrated their second win of the season and ART basked in the glory of success after claiming the 2017 GP3 Series Drivers’ and Teams’ titles ahead of the final round of the season, in Abu Dhabi on 24-26 November.
Provisional Race 2 Classification
Driver
Team
Gap
1
Alessio LORANDI
Jenzer Motorsport
2
Dorian BOCCOLACCI
Trident
+0.743
3
Niko KARI
Arden International
+1.511
4
Anthoine HUBERT
ART Grand Prix
+1.696
5
George RUSSELL
ART Grand Prix
+2.722
6
Nirei FUKUZUMI
ART Grand Prix
+3.065
7
Jack AITKEN
ART Grand Prix
+3.617
8
Giuliano ALESI
Trident
+4.077
9
Tatiana CALDERON
DAMS
+4.376
10
Julien FALCHERO
Campos Racing
+5.198
11
Steijn SCHOTHORST
Arden International
+5.563
12
Leonardo PULCINI
Arden International
+5.948
13
Arjun MAINI
Jenzer Motorsport
+6.576
14
Bruno BAPTISTA
DAMS
+6.960
15
Ryan TVETER
Trident
+7.229
16
Raoul HYMAN
Campos Racing
+7.723
17
Juan Manuel CORREA
Jenzer Motorsport
+8.096
18
Marcos SIEBERT
Campos Racing
+8.637
19
Kevin JOERG
Trident
+8.746
20
Daniel TICKTUM
DAMS
+4 Laps
Japanese driver wins Race 1
Earlier, Nirei Fukuzumi reminded everyone of his abilities with a strong, unopposed victory on Saturday morning’s Race 1 at the Circuito de Jerez, making a tremendous start and soaring off into the distance untroubled by the intra-team battle behind him for his first win since Barcelona, leading home an ART 1-2-3 ahead of teammates George Russell and Jack Aitken.
If most eyes were on the title fight between his teammates, the Honda development driver was determined to make the most of his opportunity and grab the win on offer: under gloriously sunny skies Fukuzumi tore away when the lights went out for a lead which never looked in question, while Aitken made a strong start from P2 but was slightly conservative into turn 1, opening the door to Russell.
The Series leader didn’t need any further invitation: the Mercedes F1 junior driver slid inside his teammate into turn 1, with the pair running side by side through 2 before Russell edged ahead at turn 3, with Aitken left thinking about DRS strategies and the mounting challenge behind him from newcomer Dan Ticktum, who made a good start and was running on the same pace as his countryman.