Terrific Tsunoda soars to first F3 win in Monza

From left, Liam Lawson, Yuki Tsunoda, Jake Hughes
From left, Liam Lawson, Yuki Tsunoda, Jake Hughes

Yuki Tsunoda completed his remarkable upturn of form in Monza, with his, and his team’s first ever win in the FIA Formula 3 Championship. The Jenzer Motorsport driver romped to a third podium in as many races, after a lengthy battle with Jake Hughes, which ended in him finishing ahead of Liam Lawson in second and the HWA RACELAB driver in third.

The Japanese driver’s victory marked a successful weekend for Honda Dream drivers, matching his F2 counterpart Nobuharu Matsushita, who won in yesterday’s Feature Race. The feat earns him his seventh points’ finish in a row, having scored just two of them in the first seven of the campaign.

The track was damp from overnight showers and the cars started against a shower of spray, but this didn’t stop Jake Hughes from bolting off the line, as the HWA RACELAB man lunged down the left of polesitter Fabio Scherer and into the lead. Behind him, Tsunoda had started his march from sixth and leapt to third at the first turn.

The Japanese driver pulled off a similar move for second on the next tour of the track. He had Hughes in his sights, but the duo both went wide at Turn 4 as they battled with the greasy track surface. They then collided at the following corner, as Tsunoda’s front wing scraped the back of Hughes’ rear tire, but luckily they avoided any damage.

Former leader Scherer was struggling to keep Lawson at bay behind him, as the Kiwi eyed his second podium of the season. Less than a second separated the Swiss driver in third, with Leonardo Pulcini in sixth. Space opened up down the side of Scherer and the Red Bull F1 junior took a tow and slipstreamed down the right of him.

Hughes and Tsunoda had begun to pull away from those behind them, collecting a 3s gap, but the battle between the two remained on-going. The Jenzer driver got close enough to gain the advantage of DRS and flashed past the Brit for the lead.

Hughes fought back and went side-by-side with Tsunoda around the outside of Parabolica, but the Japanese driver out-braked him and retained P1. Their drawn out fight for first handed Lawson a shot at P2 and the MP Motorsport man began to attack the back of Hughes. The duo went side-by-side down the pit straight, and with the aid of DRS, and the inside line, the Kiwi completed the move and made it stick at Turn 1.

Tsunoda ran home cleanly at the checkered flag and was followed by Lawson and Hughes in the top three, as Richard Verschoor and Pedro Piquet completed the front five. The final points’ positions went to Pulcini, Scherer and Robert Shwartzman.

The Russian’s P8 finish hands him an extra point in the Championship and marginally stretches his lead to 33 points, ahead of Jehan Daruvala on 147 points. Juri Vips remains third on 122 and Marcus Armstrong on 119. In the Teams’ standings, Champions PREMA Racing lead with 446, ahead of Hitech Grand Prix on 188, ART Grand Prix on 174, Trident on 105 and HWA RACELAB on 84.

Shwartzman holds the cards heading into the season finale, at his home race in Sochi, Russia, at the end of September.

Winner Quotes

The Honda Formula Dream Project driver was the man of the weekend, especially considering that it was his first time at the classic venue and the variety of conditions thrown at him.

“Yeah, obviously I am happy, a good weekend, a lucky weekend," he smiled. “Honestly I am quite surprised to get the win, my first time in Monza. Early in the weekend it did not go so well, I struggled in difficult wet conditions early on and we had changeable conditions all weekend, it was very difficult."

“In Race 2 I got a really good start and passed three cars off the line. That helped a lot. I kept pushing and got into P1 but I also knew I had to manage the tires as the track would be drying and I needed to keep something for the end."

“Also in Race 1 I made a good start but then I lost one position before Turn 2. I managed the tires, overtook when I could and also I was a bit lucky with cars ahead, two got punctures but still it was a good race."

“I am happy that I gained experience and was driving consistently as well as getting my first win. I know that there are still things to improve on certainly, still qualifying must be better. Thanks to the team for a great car and I am happy that we got the win," concluded the Jenzer Motorsport driver.

Race 2 Results

1 Yuki Tsunoda Jenzer Motorsport 22 0.000s
2 Liam Lawson MP Motorsport 22 1.312s
3 Jake Hughes HWA 22 2.018s
4 Richard Verschoor MP Motorsport 22 2.803s
5 Pedro Piquet Trident 22 6.861s
6 Leonardo Pulcini Hitech GP 22 7.930s
7 Fabio Scherer Charouz 22 14.329s
8 Robert Shwartzman Prema Racing 22 14.952s
9 Christian Lundgaard ART Grand Prix 22 15.019s
10 Logan Sargeant Carlin 22 16.320s
11 Juri Vips Hitech GP 22 16.417s
12 Felipe Drugovich Carlin 22 19.285s
13 Jehan Daruvala Prema Racing 22 22.373s
14 Marcus Armstrong Prema Racing 22 23.517s
15 Niko Kari Trident 22 25.101s
16 Devlin Defrancesco Trident 22 25.759s
17 Raoul Hyman Charouz 22 25.970s
18 Lirim Zendeli Charouz 22 30.267s
19 Yifei Ye Hitech GP 22 35.425s
20 Simo Laaksonen MP Motorsport 22 36.412s
21 Max Fewtrell ART Grand Prix 22 37.328s
22 Keyvan Andres HWA 22 38.842s
23 Giorgio Carrara Jenzer Motorsport 22 44.302s
24 Andreas Estner Jenzer Motorsport 22 47.238s
25 Alessio Deledda Campos Racing 22 1m16.932s
26 Sebastian Fernandez Campos Racing 22 1m37.975s
27 Bent Viscaal HWA 21 1 Lap
28 David Beckmann ART Grand Prix 21 1 Lap
29 Teppei Natori Carlin 21 1 Lap
Alex Peroni Campos Racing 0 Withdrawn

Drivers' standings

1 Robert Shwartzman 180
2 Jehan Daruvala 147
3 Juri Vips 122
4 Marcus Armstrong 119
5 Christian Lundgaard 97
6 Pedro Piquet 90
7 Jake Hughes 74
8 Yuki Tsunoda 67
9 Leonardo Pulcini 66
10 Max Fewtrell 57
11 Liam Lawson 40
12 Richard Verschoor 31
13 David Beckmann 20
14 Niko Kari 15
15 Bent Viscaal 10
16 Felipe Drugovich 8
17 Fabio Scherer 7
18 Lirim Zendeli 6
19 Logan Sargeant 5
20 Alex Peroni 5
21 Simo Laaksonen 2
22 Teppei Natori 1

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