Puncture scuppers Barnicoat hopes

Ben Barnicoat rescued a championship point-scoring finish following an incident-strewn opening FIA European Formula 3 race in Austria which was cut short after a heavy mid-field accident.

Starting third on the grid in the warm, sunny conditions, Barnicoat lost a single place to fellow second row starter Lance Stroll heading into turn one.

Despite a lock up and having to run wide, the Racing Steps Foundation-backed driver continued in his position heading down the long straight to the sharp turn two, Remus.

Barnicoat’s progress was blighted however, when he was hit from the rear by Motopark’s Joel Eriksson. The contact caused a puncture to Barnicoat’s rear right tyre.

A safety car was required soon after following a three-car collision behind, enabling Barnicoat to pit immediately to replace his deflated rubber, returning in 18th place.

When the race restarted, Barnicoat wasted no time in scything his way up the order, moving up to 12th place with brave moves past his Hitech GP team-mate Nikita Mazepin and Anthoine Hubert (Van Amersfoort Racing) and immediately cutting half a second off the margin to 11th placed Niko Kari.

A scrap ahead between Kari and Carlin’s Alessio Lorandi handed Barnicoat the chance to take advantage. Kari forced Barnicoat off the track and on to the grass, collecting a drive-through penalty in the process.

That promoted Barnicoat into 10th place but with work to do to catch Prema’s Ralf Aron, four seconds ahead.

Before the Briton was able to do so, a very large incident between Carlin drivers Ryan Tveter, Zhi Cong Li and Pedro Piquet out of Wurth Kurve immediately brought out a red flag with seven minutes remaining, with drivers stopping on the grid. Officials soon decided that there would be no restart and Barnicoat was classified 10th.

Barnicoat was later handed a post-race three-place penalty for his skirmishes with Kari, Lorandi and Pedro Piquet. He will therefore start race two from 14th on the grid.

Callum Ilott scored an assured race victory from pole position ahead of Lance Stroll and Maximilan Gunther.