Hitech GP secured a clean sweep of race wins last weekend at Silverstone, which marked Round 4 of the FIA F3 Championship and the home race for the Silverstone-based team. Winning both races, the team move up to 2nd in the championship standings following an impressive points haul.
After showing excellent pace in Friday morning’s practice session, the Hitech drivers put on a hard-fought battle to top the time sheets in qualifying. Red Bull Junior driver Vips came out on top in Friday’s qualifying, after firing in a 1:43.902s in the last few minutes of the session – enough to secure him his first ever pole position for Saturday’s Race 1. Pulcini qualified in 5th with a 1:44.139s and Renault Sport Academy driver Yifei Ye in 10th following a lap of 1:44.461s.
Lights-to-flag victory for Vips
Estonian driver Jüri Vips started on pole for the first race of the Silverstone weekend, completing a faultless lights-to-flag victory. Surviving several overtake attempts from PREMA’s Daruvala, the Estonian spent almost the entirety of the race with him in tow, but fought off multiple attacks on his position to cross the line first. The win marked his second victory of the season following his win at Red Bull Ring and the first lights-to-flag victory of the campaign.
Pulcini fought the field, attacking and defending his position seamlessly. The Italian came locked in a three-way battle with Armstrong and team-mate Vips for the final podium places. Just narrowly missing out on a podium position as the checkered flag fell, the Italian had to settle for 4th place. Teammate Yifei fought to finish Race 1 in 12th following a strong battle amongst the grid of 30 drivers.
Juri Vips on his Race 1 victory: “If you watch the live stream then you will have seen [how close] it was. I think four or five times we [Daruvala] were side-by-side and it was a case of whoever breaks the latest gets the lead. I wasn’t going to let him by. Whenever we got side-by-side I had the inside – I released the break and didn’t give him any room, which I think was good racing – it was very close. He clearly had the better pace and it was just really, really hard work, but in the end, very satisfying to keep him behind.”
Maiden win for Pulcini
Leonardo Pulcini had his first taste of champagne, securing the top step in Race 2. The Italian took home the teams second win of the weekend. After a blistering run in the Hitech GP machinery, Pulcini had his eyes on the top step. With just two laps to go in the final race of the Silverstone weekend, Pulcini managed to charge ahead, earning him the lead. Team mate Yifei pressured the field throughout the race, moving up from P12 to finish the race in P11, just missing out on a points-paying position. Vips had his eyes on a provisional podium spot, shadowing the cars in front of him before enduring nail-biting wheel-to-wheel battles. In an unfortunate turn of events, the Red Bull Junior driver made contact with Hughes, resulting in a 5 second time penalty. The Estonian initially finished the race in 13th, but dropped down to 15th following the penalty.
Leo Pulcini on his Race 2 win: “It feels very good especially after three difficult rounds. It’s also good for the team. We’ve had a double win this weekend so I’m very happy for them. They are working really hard, pushing really hard, and big thanks to them for giving me a very fast car today. I had a good start and I felt very good, I was controlling a little bit at the beginning with [Pedro] Piquet and [Liam] Lawson. When I saw they were struggling a little bit with tyres I decided to push hard and overtake them. After that I was just pushing to open a gap. As soon as I broke the gap for DRS I just controlled my tyres and it went very good at the end. To finish with my first podium of the year, especially with a win, is a very good feeling. It came a little bit late but I hope that from now we just continue like this.”
Hitech GP will head to the Hungaroring in Budapest at the start of August to contest the fifth round of the FIA F3 Championship.