Frederik Vesti edged out Jake Hughes for victory in a thrilling Tuscan Race One, whilst the title fight is set to go to the final race with three drivers in contention for glory.
Hughes battled pole-sitter Lirim Zendeli throughout the opening 13 laps before eventually making an outside move on the German, with Vesti rapidly drawing in on the pair.
Zendeli eventually fell to Vesti on lap 15 when the Dane made an inside move to quickly set about chasing down Hughes for the win, with the Brit seemingly set for victory after a late move into San Donato on lap 20, only for Vesti to hit back into the same corner on the final lap to snatch the win.
Speaking post-race on his stunning win after a cracking battle with Hughes, Vesti said; “We won a crazy race with really high degradation. It was really difficult to manage throughout the race.
“On the last lap, I passed for the lead after a great battle with Jake Hughes.”
Theo Pourchaire snatched third from Zendeli on the last lap to keep himself within nine points of Logan Sargeant who finished sixth behind Enzo Fittipaldi, although the American moved himself level on 160 points with Oscar Piastri but the Aussie still leads by virtue of two wins to Sargeant’s one.
Aleksandr Smolyar, David Beckmann, Sebastian Fernandez and Liam Lawson rounded out the top ten as Piastri could only recover five positions from 16th on the grid to finish 11th without any points.
Vesti, Lawson and Beckmann were consequently eliminated from the title race through a mixture of their own results and other results elsewhere not going in their favour.
Zendeli got a clean start from pole to lead Hughes who tucked in behind the German as Vesti held third from Sargeant who along with Pourchaire demoted Fittipaldi from fourth to sixth. Piastri meanwhile failed to make up places at the start as he found himself stuck in 16th behind the dueling Campos and Jenzer cars of Alex Peroni and Matteo Nannini.
Pourchaire slipstreamed Sargeant on the run to San Donato on lap two to take fourth whilst one lap later, Piastri cleared Nannini for 15th then Peroni for 14th on lap six.
Up front, Zendeli fended off the threat of Hughes with better exit speed out of Bucine with the duo surviving contact into San Donato on lap five, as Hughes tried an inside pass but got slightly wide and banged wheels with Zendeli who retained his lead.
Two laps later, Hughes cleared Zendeli with an outside move round San Donato to take the lead only to lose it immediately at the start of the next lap as the German utilised DRS to allow him to reclaim the lead using the outside line through San Donato.
Piastri meanwhile banged wheels with Hauger into the same corner on the very same lap but Piastri eventually passed the Norwegian driver for 13th into San Donato on the following lap.
Just behind Zendeli and Hughes, Sargeant passed Pourchaire on the inside of San Donato on lap seven with the Frenchman hitting back into that very corner just two laps later on the same inside line.
Hughes eventually cleared Zendeli on lap 13 after delivering round the outside of San Donato to take the lead, before fending off Zendeli with traction from inside line on the next lap which saw Sargeant run wide on the exit of Bucine to lose pace on Pourchaire who broke clear in fourth.
Further ahead, Vesti cleared Zendeli into San Donato with the help of DRS on lap 15 before passing Hughes into that corner just two laps later to take the lead, but found himself fending off Hughes for the next two laps until the Brit made an outside pass for the lead at the start of lap 20.
Vesti however was able to stick to Hughes’ rear and was rewarded with DRS out of Bucine to make a sweeping outside move around San Donato at the start of the final lap to clinch his third victory of the season by 0.324 seconds at the flag,
Zendeli meanwhile struggled with tyre degradation in the closing stages as he found himself dumped off the podium at the start of the final lap by Pourchaire who keeps himself within title contention, as Sargeant failed to catch and pass Fittipaldi for fifth and the championship lead.
Elsewhere, Piastri cleared Richard Verschoor on lap 13 before taking 11th from Jack Doohan five laps later with Verschoor following through but ultimately couldn’t catch Lawson for tenth and reverse pole, meaning that the championship leader starts the final race of this season just outside the top ten whilst Sargeant will start fifth and Pourchaire will begin from eighth on the grid.
|1||Frederik Vesti||Prema||21||34m 42.873|
|2||Jake Hughes||HWA Racelab||21||+ 0.324|
|3||Theo Pourchaire||ART GP||21||+ 2.369|
|4||Lirim Zendeli||Trident||21||+ 4.783|
|5||Enzo Fittipaldi||HWA Racelab||21||+ 7.816|
|6||Logan Sargeant||Prema||21||+ 8.511|
|7||Aleksandr Smolyar||ART GP||21||+ 10.540|
|8||David Beckmann||Trident||21||+ 11.019|
|9||Sebastian Fernandez||ART GP||21||+ 11.505|
|10||Liam Lawson||Hitech GP||21||+ 12.496|
|11||Oscar Piastri||Oscar Piastri||21||+ 13.483|
|12||Richard Verschoor||MP Motorsport||21||+ 15.308|
|13||Jack Doohan||HWA Racelab||21||+ 19.489|
|14||Dennis Hauger||Hitech GP||21||+ 25.862|
|15||David Schumacher||Carlin||21||+ 26.311|
|16||Matteo Nannini||Jenzer||21||+ 26.834|
|17||Olli Caldwell||Trident||21||+ 26.900|
|18||Federico Malvestiti||Jenzer||21||+ 32.604|
|19||Calan Williams||Jenzer||21||+ 33.910|
|20||Alex Peroni||Campos||21||+ 35.469|
|21||Lukas Dunner||MP Motorsport||21||+ 35.509|
|22||Sophia Floersch||Campos||21||+ 39.588|
|23||Cameron Das||Carlin||21||+ 40.793|
|24||Clement Novalak||Carlin||21||+ 48.067|
|25||Alessio Deledda||Campos||21||+ 50.078|
|26||Roman Stanek||Charouz||20||+ 1 Lap|
|27||Michael Belov||Charouz||20||+ 1 Lap|
|28||Bent Viscaal||MP Motorsport||3||Engine|