George Russell takes the 2017 GP3 Series title at Jerez
Mercedes-AMG F1 Junior George Russell took the GP3 Series title with two races to spare, after building up an unassailable points lead at the end of race two at Jerez.
Russell needed to outscore his main championship rival Jack Aitken by 3 points to take the GP3 Series Championship title before the season finale, with two more races left to run at Abu Dhabi.
A championship defining moment
Russell started from 7th on the grid after his 2nd place finish in opening race of the weekend yesterday. The Mercedes-AMG F1 Junior got a good start to draw alongside Aitken into turn one - who shut the door and defended well.
Russell kept on his rivals gearbox throughout the opening sequence of corners, making the decisive move into the turn six hairpin - taking 6th position. Teammate Nirei Fukuzumi also managed to follow Russell through, dropping Aitken down to 8th position in the process.
The BRDC Superstar then pumped in two consecutive fastest laps of the race - provisionally earning the two extra points for fastest lap. This put Russell into championship winning position, providing he kept Fukuzumi and Aitken behind him for the rest of the race.
Russell had closed in on ART teammate Anthoine Hubert, but later dropped back in order to manage the gap behind to his rivals with the championship title firmly on his mind.
Fukuzumi managed to reduce the gap to Russell, moving just under one second behind the Brit and within DRS range at half distance, but Russell resisted his challenge to maintain track and championship position.
Late race drama
A late safety car was deployed when Red Bull Juniors Niko Kari and Dan Ticktum made contact into turn two, leaving the latter beached in the gravel trap - promoting Russell up another position.
The race was restarted with just two laps to go, setting up a dramatic and tense finale. Fukuzumi was all over the back of Russell who valiantly defended his position until the chequered flag - coming home in 5th position and taking the championship title in the process.
Sealing the championship two races early
Russell took the championship after amounting a 50 point lead over Aitken, with only 46 points on offer in the final two races of the season.
His championship winning campaign has seen him take 4 victories, 6 podium finishes, 3 pole positions and 5 fastest laps on his way to sealing the 2017 GP3 Series title.
George Russell "It's been an incredibly hard fight between me and my three teammates - but in the end we came out on top, which is fantastic!
I would like to say first a massive thanks to ART Grand Prix, this season they have been absolutley dominant and it's been great to have the car underneath me - knowing every event I had the car underneath me to get pole and win the race.
Secondly a big thanks to Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, they put the faith in me at the end of last season for 2017 and I really worked hard to pull it off for them, just as much as for as myself.
Finally a massive thanks to everyone else who has helped me through the season."
Russell has been crowned the championship before the final round of the 2017 GP3 Series, which takes place on the 24-26 November at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.
With the main job now done, attention focuses on ending the season in style - before getting back into work for the 2018 season and the next chapter in George Russell's rise up the motorsport ladder.