Jules Bianchi, who blitzed the British F3 field into submission as a guest competitor at the Algarve circuit, returned to the F3 Euroseries to take a pole position and a win in Barcelona, extending his series lead to 23 points with four races left.
Alexander Sims’ debut F3 season continues to gather momentum with each passing weekend, the Briton securing second place in both races. He has now finished in the top five at seven of the last eight Euroseries races.
By contrast, Sam Bird recorded a pair of DNFs and Nick Tandy did not compete in the second race after a first-lap accident in the opener.
ART’s Bianchi took an unruffled pole for the first race ahead of Andrea Caldarelli and Sims, ending his session while there was still time on the clock but still setting the fastest time by 0.065sec.
Sims made a strong start to the race, challenging Bianchi for the lead at the first corner as Caldarelli dropped back, but could not make the pass and remained wedded to the Frenchman’s rear wing for the rest of the race.
He said: “My start was very good. At the re-start after the safety car, I wasn’t fast enough and Andrea overtook me – however, I managed to counter-attack. My car was fantastic and I was able to close the gap to Jules again, but he was too far off to start an attack.”
Bird and Tandy were early casualties, Bird hit by team-mate Christian Vietoris on lap one while Tandy was involved in a three-car accident with Stefano Coletti and Jean Karl Vernay at the first corner, bringing out the safety car for five laps.
Bianchi only managed fifth in the second race, victory going to British F3 exile Renger van der Zande. The pole-sitter fought off Lebanon’s Basil Shaaban at the start and was untroubled from there on. Sims leapt from seventh to third on the first lap and passed Shaaban on lap 25.
He said: “I had a very good start and was third behind Basil. He drove a great race. When he did make a slight mistake, I managed to overtake him. Basil reacted very well when I pulled up alongside him.”
Bianchi leads the championship from Vietoris ahead of the next meeting in Dijon-Prenois on October 10-11, with Valtteri Bottas third. Sims’ results move him to fourth, overtaking Vernay and Bird.