George Russell Crowned GP3 Series Champion in Abu Dhabi
Mercedes-AMG F1 Junior and ART GP Driver George Russell finished the final race of the season in 4th position - before being officially crowned champion in the GP3 Prize Giving in Yas Marina
The 2017 GP3 Series kicked off under the heat of Spain for the first round of the championship. ART Grand Prix driver George Russell hit the ground running by setting the 5th fastest time in the opening Official Practise session on Friday morning.
Russell followed this up with another strong performance in qualifying, setting his best time on the final lap of the session to snatch 4th on the grid for the first race of the weekend.
ART Drivers filled the first two rows of the grid for the first race of the season - Russell made a decent get away, but was thwarted by the dirty side grid slot that had a lot of rubber on it. On the long drag into turn one, Russell was forced to concede position to avoid contact - eventually dropping to 9th position after the opening few laps.
From there Russell kicked on with salvaging a strong result despite the difficult start - The Mercedes Junior Driver used his six DRS usages to great effect, masterfully carving his way through the field.
Within the first ten laps, Russell had reached 5th position after reeling off a brace of fastest laps and using his DRS to make up ground. In the clsoing stages, Russell managed to take 4th position - however the podium was just out of reach, so he managed the gap to teammate Antoine Hubert to the chequered flag.
The reverse grid nature of the second race of the weekend meant Russell would start 5th on the grid. However again it was not the best of starts for George - despite tucking into the slipstream into turn one, he found himself in between two cars and was forced to yield. Russell took two places back though immediately to take back 6th position at the end of the first lap.
Russell spent the first few laps of the race then hunting down rival Alessio Lorandi. Russell used the first of his DRS uses to get a great run down the main straight and went for a brave move around the outside. Russell just ran out of grip on the outside and had to take to the escape road and rejoin back in 6th.
With five laps to go, Russell had caught Raoul Hyman after a sequence of fast laps and launched an attack into turn one before running out of grip in turn two and falling back in behind. Immediately he had to defend hard from teammate Fukuzumi, which he managed to hold off for the rest of the race. Russell managed to overtake and getthe better of Hyman at the end of the DRS zone on the thirteenth lap of the race.
The final four laps were spent managing the gap to Fukuzumi to bag another solid points haul.
After the opening round of the championship, Russell is 6th overall in the standings and tied for 5th overall on 20 points. There is a lengthy break in the calendar until the second round at the Red Bull Ring, Austria on the 7-9 July 2017.
Russell goes into the second round of the championship just 9 points off the summit, with the aim to take his maiden GP3 podium and victory very soon.