The two most recent GB3 champions Zak O’Sullivan and Luke Browning finished first and second in the opening FIA Formula 3 race of the weekend at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
The Williams F1 Academy members started alongside each other on the front row of the grid, with 2021 GB3 champion O’Sullivan just holding off 2022 winner Browning on the run to the first corner.
After a safety car period, Hitech driver Browning challenged Prema’s O’Sullivan for the lead again on lap 10, and a lap later, with the latter resisting.
Another safety car neutralised the contest, and O’Sullivan was able to control the restart and his second win of the year by 1.6 seconds from Browning, who fended off late pressure from Leonardo Fornaroli.
“It was pretty good,” said O’Sullivan. “The early part of the race was managing Luke behind, and then at the end the pace seemed a bit better.
“Luke was quite close to me into turn one but I knew as long as I braked as late as I could, I was doubtful he could brake any later and that was the case. Throughout the race a couple of times he got alongside with DRS into turn one, but luckily not enough alongside that I lost the position.”
Browning’s second place was his first podium after his graduation to the F1 feeder series.
“Nice, long-awaited!” he said. “It's nice to be on the podium of course, and Barcelona is a nice place to do it. An enjoyable race, it has to be said. Sometimes it was difficult to manage tyre wear, I wasn't too far away in the opening half of the race but we were following so close for so long.
“I thought after the Safety Car I might be able to cool the surface temperatures down but I got some marbles on the SC laps and therefore I couldn't quite attack. Regardless I think Zak controlled the race well, and I did as much as I could do really.
“I'm getting more and more comfortable, I've never raced around this circuit before, it's been a big learning curve, to be honest. I'm playing catch-up a little bit, but with the help of Williams and Hitech we're really pushing to speed up that development curve and I think it's showing.”
Browning and O'Sullivan sit seventh and eighth in the standings, after the first seven races of the year.