Sochi F3: Red Bull junior Vips wins season finale

Red Bull junior Juri Vips ended a barren run winning the FIA Formula 3 season finale at Sochi, while Ferrari protege Marcus Armstrong secured second in the championship.

Sochi F3: Red Bull junior Vips wins season finale

Hitech Grand Prix driver Vips led away from pole and went unchallenged until DRS was activated, when HWA’s Jake Hughes closed in.

But the key moment of the race came when Vips’s teammate Leonardo Pulcini put pressure on Hughes, the two banging wheels at Turn 4 on lap five of 20. One corner later they made contact and Pulcini spun out.

The drama allowed Vips to break the tow and on the next tour he set a fastest lap of the race to move three seconds clear.

After the incident Prema Racing’s race one winner Armstrong moved up to second and began to erode Vips’s lead, moving within 1.4s in the last three laps.

But the New Zealander couldn’t make any further meaningful inroads to give Vips a third win of the year and his first since July's Silverstone round.

Second was enough to give Armstrong second in the championship as his Prema teammate Jehan Daruvala had a technical issue on the grid and had to start from the pits. 

The Indian driver had fought back to the top 10 but fell to 15th at the finish due to a penalty.

Spa race winner Pedro Piquet was set to take the final spot on the podium but had to retire with a technical issue three laps from the end, promoting newly-crowned champion Robert Shwartzman (Prema) to the place.

SMP Racing-backed Shwartzman ran eighth in the early stages but steadily worked his way forward, passing Hughes with five laps to go at Turn 13.

Hughes ended up fourth after Piquet's retirement while Niko Kari (Trident) ended his best weekend of the year in fifth.

Sixth went the way of Renault junior Yifei Ye (Hitech), his best finish of the year, ahead of MP Motorsport duo Richard Verschoor and Liam Lawson, who made a double pass on the final lap on Christian Lundgaard and Logan Sargeant for the last point.

The two new drivers to the series finished lying astern, with Ralf Schumacher’s son David taking 20th for Campos Racing ahead of Macanese driver Charles Leong (Jenzer).

Race results:

Sochi F3: Armstrong wins, Shwartzman wraps up title

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