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Imola Euro F3: Esteban Ocon claims title, Max Verstappen wins race

Esteban Ocon wins 2014 European F3 title, Imola

Lotus F1 junior Esteban Ocon became Formula 3 European champion by finishing third in a final race at Imola that was won by Max Verstappen.

Both poleman Verstappen and front-row partner Ocon were beaten away at the start by Ferrari protege Antonio Fuoco, who held the inside line to claim the lead into Tamburello.

New Toro Rosso Formula 1 signing Verstappen, who had stalled before the start and fired the engine up again just before the lights went out, managed to just hold off Ocon, with the champion-elect playing it safe.

Two early safety cars frustrated Verstappen's attempts to take on Fuoco.

The first was caused by Antonio Giovinazzi's car being left stranded after contact with Ed Jones; the second came when Sandro Zeller had a big crash, from which he emerged unscathed.

On the second restart, Verstappen got a fantastic run on Fuoco and the Van Amersfoort Racing car was already ahead of the Prema Powerteam machine when they reached the braking point for Tamburello.

There was a third safety car, caused by an enormous accident for Felix Rosenqvist at Tamburello after he briefly went airborne over the right-rear wheel of Jordan King.

The Swede stayed in the cockpit for some time after the impact, but was then on his feet before being taken to the medical centre, where he is uninjured but shaken.

That left just four more laps of racing, and the cautious Ocon, while he got close to Prema team-mate Fuoco, never really tried a move to get past.

Up front, Verstappen pulled away to win by just over two seconds.

"I did so many overtakes in the second race that this one on Antonio wasn't so exciting for me anymore," he quipped.

"I knew we had the speed, so I just stayed calm, and after I got past I had really good pace."

Fuoco, meanwhile, dedicated his podium to fellow Ferrari Driver Academy member Jules Bianchi.

Tom Blomqvist, like Verstappen, lost his final chance of the title in this race. He lost out to Nicholas Latifi on the opening lap, and had a lairy moment at Tamburello while trying to pass the Canadian after the final safety car, but had to settle for fifth.

Will Buller scored the first finish for the returning Signature team, emerging from a great fight with Jake Dennis and Lucas Auer for sixth, with Felix Serralles also latching onto the battle.

Gustavo Menezes completed the points scorers, with King next up.

RESULTS - 17 LAPS:

PosDriverTeamCarGap
1Max VerstappenVan Amersfoort RacingDallara/Volkswagen36m15.097s
2Antonio FuocoPrema PowerteamDallara/Mercedes2.100s
3Esteban OconPrema PowerteamDallara/Mercedes3.066s
4Nicholas LatifiPrema PowerteamDallara/Mercedes3.650s
5Tom BlomqvistJagonya Ayam with CarlinDallara/Volkswagen4.030s
6William BullerSignatureDallara/Volkswagen6.799s
7Jake DennisCarlinDallara/Volkswagen7.421s
8Lucas AuerKFZTeile24 Mucke MotorsportDallara/Mercedes7.960s
9Felix SerrallesTeam West-Tec F3Dallara/Mercedes8.291s
10Gustavo MenezesVan Amersfoort RacingDallara/Volkswagen9.391s
11Jordan KingCarlinDallara/Volkswagen10.135s
12Roy NissanyKFZTeile24 Mucke MotorsportDallara/Mercedes11.070s
13Dennis van de LaarPrema PowerteamDallara/Mercedes11.969s
14Jules SzymkowiakVan Amersfoort RacingDallara/Volkswagen12.786s
15Alexander TorilThreeBond with T-SportDallara/NBE13.846s
16Santino FerrucciFortec MotorsportsDallara/Mercedes16.144s
17Michele BerettaEuroInternationalDallara/Mercedes17.479s
18Andy ChangTeam West-Tec F3Dallara/Mercedes17.998s
19Richard GoddardThreeBond with T-SportDallara/NBE18.254s
20Martin CaoFortec MotorsportsDallara/Mercedes19.089s
21Sergio Sette CamaraEuroInternationalDallara/Mercedes19.395s
22Nick CassidyThreeBond with T-SportDallara/NBE24.934s
-Felix RosenqvistKFZTeile24 Mucke MotorsportDallara/MercedesRetirement
-Tatiana CalderonJo Zeller RacingDallara/MercedesRetirement
-Sean GelaelJagonya Ayam with CarlinDallara/VolkswagenRetirement
-Sandro ZellerJo Zeller RacingDallara/MercedesRetirement
-Edward JonesCarlinDallara/VolkswagenRetirement
-Antonio GiovinazziJagonya Ayam with CarlinDallara/VolkswagenRetirement

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS AFTER 30 OF 33 ROUNDS:

PosDriverPoints
1Esteban Ocon454
2Max Verstappen368
3Tom Blomqvist365
4Lucas Auer307
5Antonio Fuoco255
6Antonio Giovinazzi198
7Jordan King191
8Jake Dennis174
9Felix Rosenqvist168
10Nicholas Latifi128
11Gustavo Menezes85
12Felix Serralles80
13Edward Jones68
14Dennis van de Laar36
15Mitchell Gilbert28
16Tatiana Calderon25
17Santino Ferrucci24
18Roy Nissany20
19Sean Gelael20
20Jules Szymkowiak17

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