Evans on top in rain struck Spielberg Feature Race

Mitch Evans has come out on top of a dramatic feature race in Spielberg this afternoon, holding on in mixed weather conditions to claim his fifth career win as he led teammate Sean Gelael and Raffaele Marciello across the line for victory from tenth on the grid in a red flag affected race.

The race got underway in dry conditions, but with Formula One qualifying affected by rain the threat was known up and down the pitlane. When the lights went out poleman Sergey Sirotkin was slow off the line, handing a clear run to PREMA Racing teammates Antonio Giovinazzi and Pierre Gasly into the first corner, while further back Evans, the first driver on super soft tires, lost 3 spots before starting his charge back up the grid.

Gasly was looking for more than P2 and pushed his teammate hard for the lead: the inevitable happened on lap 5 as the Red Bull tester ran side by side up the hill before nicking inside Giovinazzi for the top spot into Turn 2. Meanwhile, Evans was the first man to pit, on lap 9, handing him clear track to try to put his race back together with a string of quick laps.

Marciello was on a charge too: the Italian finally mugged countryman Luca Ghiotto for P4 on lap 12 and started to close in on the top 3 as rain was spotted at Turn 2: a few drivers jumped in for wet tires but the changing conditions caught out the race leader as Gasly spun into retirement in the gravel trap at the top of the hill, with Alex Lynn narrowly missing the stricken car before the inevitable safety car emerged.

More cars jumped in for tires, with Norman Nato emerging as the first of the pitted drivers in P7, but the top 6 stayed out to get the most out of their soft tires and prayed for an end to the rain: Giovinazzi easily won the restart 3 laps later but Turn 2 was still heavily wet, with Marciello moving up to P2 and going one better a lap later when his countryman ran too deep at Turn 1, and Ghiotto joined them in the top 3 as he snuck inside Oliver Rowland before Marvin Kirchhöfer spun to a halt in the middle of Turn 2, bringing the safety car back out.

The leaders all took the opportunity to pit at last, but Artem Markelov had a torrid time of it: he suffered a slow stop and then hit the wall at the pit exit to finish his race and bring out the red flags, with Evans and Gelael now leading because of the late stop: race control was watching the conditions and made a call to restart the race behind the safety car, which came in on lap 32 to give the field 8 laps to make a difference.

Evans ran a string of fastest laps with the smell of victory in his nose: the New Zealander led home Pertamina Campos Racing teammate Gelael for an unexpected but joyously received 1-2, while Marciello pushed up to P3 at the restart but was unable to close the gap to the leaders before the flag dropped. Ghiotto brought home his best result to date with a fine fourth and just held off a fast charging Jimmy Eriksson, who emerged on top of a late race squabble with Rowland, while Nato mugged Sirotkin for P7 at the restart ahead of Gustav Malja, who moved up 3 places after the restart for P9, just ahead of Jordan King.

The result changed the drivers’ title race substantially, with Marciello now leading the points total with 58 ahead of Nato and Evans on 55, Markelov on 54, and Giovinazzi one point ahead of teammate Gasly 46 to 45 as they look forward to tomorrow’s sprint race.

Spielberg, Austria – Feature Race

Pos

Driver

Team

1.

Mitch Evans

Pertamina Campos Racing

2.

Sean Gelael

Pertamina Campos Racing

3.

Raffaele Marciello

RUSSIAN TIME

4.

Luca Ghiotto

Trident

5.

Jimmy Eriksson

Arden International

6.

Oliver Rowland

MP Motorsport

7.

Norman Nato

Racing Engineering

8.

Sergey Sirotkin

ART Grand Prix

9.

Gustav Malja

Rapax

10.

Jordan King

Racing Engineering

11.

Arthur Pic

Rapax

12.

Nicholas Latifi

DAMS

13.

Alex Lynn

DAMS

14.

Daniel de Jong

MP Motorsport

15.

Philo Paz Armand

Trident

16.

Rene Binder

ART Grand Prix

Fastest Lap : Mitch Evans (Pertamina Campos Racing) : 1 :15.534 on lap 38

Not Classified

Antonio Giovinazzi

PREMA Racing

Artem Markelov

RUSSIAN TIME

Marvin Kirchhöfer

Carlin

Pierre Gasly

PREMA Racing

Nabil Jeffri

Arden International

Sergio Canamasas

Carlin

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