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F3: Oliver Goethe wins hectic Imola sprint

Written by Sean McKean

Credit - Dutch Photo Agency

Editor's note, May 18th 18:22 UK: The previous version of this article stated that León took the victory ahead of Goethe in second and Tramnitz in third. However, following post-race penalties, the finishing order of the top three changed. This has since been amended.

In a safety-car filled and dramatic sprint race, Oliver Goethe secured his second FIA Formula 3 victory with the Campos Racing team. Not only is this Campos' first win of the season, but it’s also their first podium of the season.

As it unfolded

From pole position, Red Bull junior Kacper Sztuka got a lacklustre getaway, resulting in him getting swallowed up by Noel León behind, who took the lead. Further back, Sztuka continued to lose positions, falling behind Tim Tramnitz and Oliver Goethe.

However, before the leaders could begin to battle, the safety car would come out. In the mid-pack, León’s teammate Tommy Smith hit the rear of Mari Boya in the Campos, putting the Spaniard out of the race. This resulted in a 10-second time penalty for the Australian driver.

The race resumed on lap four. On-track, the attention returned for a three-way battle for sixth between the Prema, of Dino Beganovic Trident’s and Sami Meguetounif and ART’s Laurens van Hoepen. 

Before any battles could really play out, though, the safety car came back out. At turn seven, Rodin’s Callum Voisin went straight into the barrier – seemingly with damage beforehand. On top of that, Leonardo Fornaroli came to blows with Nikita Bedrin – leaving both with damage but still able to continue.

The ensuing restart on lap eight wasn’t any cleaner. Leader León had massive pressure to defend from Tim Tramnitz behind him. Despite this, he kept the lead for the time being.

But, Sami Meguetounif – one of the drivers in the previous top six spat – went straight-on in turn one in avoidance of Beganovic ahead on the restart, beaching him in the gravel. With this as well as many other drivers who went off near him, the safety car was required yet again.

On the next restart on lap 11, León got away early and built a healthy gap to Tramnitz behind. Subsequently, with the enabling of DRS soon following, Oliver Goethe was easily able to get by his fellow Red Bull junior to move into second.

Although this bit of green flag racing was the most we had up to that point, the safety car came out again on lap 13. After problems at the start of the race, AIX’s Tasanapol Inthraphuvasak pulled off with a mechanical issue, putting him out of the race.

The restart was odd: the top three had a two-second gap from Kacper Sztuka behind, who seemingly wasn’t paying attention to the gaps ahead. Though this was great for León, Goethe and Tramnitz, this left Sztuka vulnerable, as one lap later, on lap 17 he was overtaken by Dino Beganovic.

However, trying to follow the Prema, championship leader Luke Browning hit the back of the Polish driver in an attempt to send a move to the inside in turn seven, resulting in a virtual safety car.

Under the VSC though, Goethe closed up to León on the 18th and final lap, managing the delta well. And dramatically at the penultimate corner, the race resumed and the Mexican driver wasn’t ready, as Goethe easily swung by to take the win on the road. But following a five-second time penalty, the 2023 Euroformula Open champion secured his maiden F3 victory.

However, post-race, a penalty for León meant that Goethe would inherit the race victory, the second of his career. This is not only Goethe's first win of the season, but this also continues a streak of points finishes that hasn't been broken since season's beginning.

The German came home ahead of fellow Red Bull junior and countryman Tim Tramnitz in second. Though unhappy with the penalty, León finished on the podium to get Van Amersfoort Racing's first points of the season. Rounding out the top five was Dino Beganovic in fourth and Kacper Sztuka in fifth. 

Gabriele Minì finished in a quiet sixth followed by Laurens van Hoepen in seventh. Arvid Lindblad held onto eighth despite pressure from Nikita Bedrin behind in ninth. Taking the final points-paying position was feature race polesitter Santiago Ramos.


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