Barnicoat ends Pau GP in 11th

Ben Barnicoat completed the FIA European Formula 3 Championship weekend at Pau with an 11th place finish in a disrupted third and final race, the blue riband Pau Grand Prix.

Starting from seventh place, Barnicoat did well to avoid a two-car collision ahead through the opening bends. As further cars collided towards the back of the grid, a safety car period was called for.

Ben had moved up to sixth position ahead of the safety car, but was then forced to pit, relegating him to 15th and at the back of the pack.

With 22 minutes remaining, the race restarted and Barnicoat set out on a charge up the grid. He eventually reached 11th position, past Pedro Piquet and championship leader Maximilian Gunther.

Barnicoat closed up on the rear of Van Amersfoort Racing’s Harrison Newey, cutting the margin to less than half a second. But having made the move to pass, Newey became stuck, forcing his fellow British rival to reverse and him. The delay enabled Piquet to re-take 10th place, leaving Barnicoat to settle for 11th by the flag.

Carlin’s Alessio Lorandi scored victory ahead of Prema’s Lance Stroll and Barnicoat’s Hitech GP team-mate George Russell.

The fourth round of the FIA European Formula 3 Championship will take place next weekend, May 20-21, at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.

“I made a good start but sustained front wing damage when the two cars in front collided in the first couple of bends. It was plain unlucky,” Barnicoat said.

“I was praying that the race would be red flagged and you’d 100 per cent expect that to happen in that situation. I decided to box under the safety car as others around me had the same front-end damage.

“I made some good overtakes of Piquet and Gunther in turn four at the restart. I then tried to throw Newey a dummy to force him into making a mistake. It worked and he got stuck halfway around the corner, but it boxed me in and I had to back out and start again.

"I’m happy with my overtakes and got as much as I could out of the race. Overall it’s been a very positive weekend. I got another win under my belt, I managed to make good ground in race two that moved me from P7 to third in the championship. If the race three damage hadn’t happened I would have had a cushion in that position.

“As it is, fourth in the standings is great at this stage of the season. I’m doing a good job and I’m happy with my progress. My pace was very strong in the wet, and I showed that in the dry too at the end of race three considering I still had damage.

“The next round at the Red Bull Ring will be a tough one. I’ve never been there before but I’m very confident if I come out of it well, it leaves me in a good place for the championship as the rest of the circuits on the calendar, I have experience of.”