A masterful lights to flag victory by Pietro Fittipaldi started the 2017 season of World Series Formula V8 3.5 in style.
Fittipaldi made a great getaway at the start, however team mate Rene Binder was slow away and was relegated to 4th by Egor Orudzhev and Matevos Isaakyan. Elsewhere, contact forced an early retirement for Roy Nissany.
With a spread field, mainly due to the presence of only 12 cars, battles were few and far between, however team mates Konstantin Tereschenko and Nelson Mason endured a feisty battle, with Mason out braking himself and losing spots to both Tereschenko and Yu Kanamaru. The other battle of note involved Force India reserve Alfonso Celis Jr and Binder.
Fittipaldi was pulling away initially from Orudzhev at over a second a lap, and at times looked a level above the rest of the field. However by lap 10, Orudzhev started eating into the lead, which was four seconds. On lap 13, Mason mounted a feisty charge and dived past Kanamaru and into eighth place. This was a decent display from a man only confirmed to race on Friday morning.
By lap 14, Orudzhev was tearing into Fittipaldi’s advantage, which was now only 2.5 seconds. Behind, Celis Jr finally found a way past Binder and into 4th. By lap 16, the Teo Martin teammates Tereschenko and Mason were back together again. They got extremely close just after Copse corner but Mason held his nerve and was back ahead. Tereschenko lost a lot of momentum and fell into the clutches of Kanamaru, who performed a brilliant switchback around the final corner, and then dived down the inside of Copse.
Up ahead, Celis Jr was absolutely flying, and was all over Isaakyan for 3rd, and eventually forced a mistake by Isaakyan running wide before the Hangar straight, and was into the podium position. Up front, the gap between Fittipaldi and Orudzhev stabilised to around 1.5 seconds. Towards the end, Fittipaldi’s engine sounded distinctly rough, but It didn’t slow him down.
On the final lap, a huge battle for 8th between Tereschenko, Kanamaru and Diego Menchaca took place, with Tereschenko stealing the place.
But the day belonged to Fittipaldi, with Orudzhev and Celis Jr wrapping up the podium.