Carlin’s William Buller claimed his maiden victory in GP3 today in a race that was full of drama and excitement until the very end! It concluded a fantastic weekend for Carlin after achieving their first win in the Series on Saturday with Antonio Felix Da Costa and then sealing a double victory at home in front of a massive crowd. The Brit started from 25th on the grid to pick up the 15 points on offer for the top step on the podium in one of the best GP3 races we have had!
With light rain starting to fall as the drivers were on the grid preparing, strategic calls came into play and it was Carlin and Buller who made the brave decision to start on slick tyres as the rain fell. Pole man Kevin Ceccon made a good start but it was Marussia Manor Racing’s Tio Ellinas who got the jump on front row man Alex Brundle (the latter starting on slicks). Also on the move was Series leader Mitch Evans who surged through from seventh to third. The battle was on as Felix Da Costa and the New Zealander fought over third place with the Portuguese star on a mission and finding a way through.
Ellinas was not content with second and soon set after race leader Ceccon and made his way to P1 by the end of the first lap. By lap 3, Ellinas had pulled a 3.2 second margin as the drivers got to grips with tricky and changeable conditions. The majority of the field started on wets and for some their tyres soon started to fade away as the rain that was expected to come down, didn’t.
Felix Da Costa moved up to P2 passing Ceccon, whilst Evans began to struggle with his tyres and was overtaken by Daniel Abt (Lotus GP) and soon had to defend from teammate Matias Laine. With the track drying it soon became evident that the quicker tyre to be on were the slicks, as demonstrated by Buller who began setting purple sectors and fastest laps. Jenzer Motorsport’s Patric Niederhauser and Robert Visoiu began their charge through the pack on the wet tyre and began to take advantage.
Ellinas remained in front ahead of Felix Da Costa, Niederhauser, Ceccon and Visoiu. Mitch Evans spun at turn 7 and at the midway point of the race came in for tyre change. Buller was climbing his way up to P6 at this point with Conor Daly (Lotus GP) also on the up. There was a new race leader after Niederhauser overtook both Felix Da Costa and Ellinas and looked in a dominant position in P1. Ellinas also pitted for slicks from P2 whilst Buller continued to set an impressive pace on slicks moving to P2. The Brit was all over the back of the Swiss for the lead and he grabbed P1 and pulled out a large gap.
The track conditions started to catch the drivers out with Alice Powell ending her race in gravel, soon to be followed by Abt. Before Abt could climb out of his car Marlon Stockinger (Status Grand Prix) joined him for a company, tapping the Lotus GP car after spinning off in the same place. There was drama still to come with one of the main contenders for the GP3 crown, Aaro Vainio (Lotus GP) hitting the back of Laine and sending his car up into the air. That was a premature end to the Finn’s race and no points.
Buller continued to increase his advantage over the front whilst Daly (who started on slicks) rose to P2 passing Niederhauser. The Brit crossed the chequered flag with an eight second lead to celebrate his maiden victory, with Daly enjoying a solid points score. Niederhauser hung onto the final spot on the rostrum after nursing his wet tyres home to finish ahead of Ellinas, Visoiu, Felix Da Costa and Ceccon. The final point went to Atech CRS GP new driver Fabio Gamberini making his debut here at Silverstone.
With the top two in the Drivers Standings failing to score points, Evans continues to hold his 11 point advantage over Vainio with Felix Da Costa closing the gap in third.
GP3 Series is back in action at Hockenheim in Germany on 20-22 July.