The Chinese continues driver to be unbeatable but was today challenged by new rivals, as Manuel Maldonado (Motopark) and Sebastian Estner (VAR) took 2nd and 3rd, their best results so far
CryptoTower Racing Team’s Yifei Ye dominated the opening Euroformula race in the Styrian Alps at the Red Bull Ring, claiming his fourth win from five races by 8.838 seconds.
The Chinese driver managed his pace throughout, and the drivers he shared the podium with were not the ones who were the closest to him in qualifying. Before the race, Motopark’s Manuel Maldonado and Van Amersfoort Racing’s Sebastian Estner had their best lap times reinstated after they were initially deleted for disregarding track limits, meaning they rose up to second and third on the grid.
Neither could challenge Ye at the start, but they held position to secure their first podiums in the series behind dominant points leader Ye.
“The start was not the best I’ve had, but I managed to hold on to P1 until Turn 2 and Turn 3,” said Ye. “And from that onwards I was just trying to manage my pace. I was seeing that the cars behind me could not follow my pace, so I was managing my rhythm throughout the race; managing the tyres as well in case there was a safety car. Fortunately for me there wasn’t a safety car, so I was able to hold the gap to the end of the race and bring home the victory.”
In addition to victory, Ye extended his championship lead by claiming the additional points for pole position and fastest lap over the day.
For both Maldonado (and his team Motopark), and for Sebastian Estner (who took win and lead in the Rookies’ Trophy), today’s was their best result of the season so far.
The second of VAR’s Estner brothers, Andreas, finished the race in fourth to solidify his second place in the standings, while Carlin’s Ido Cohen spent the whole race keeping Double R Racing’s Ayrton Simmons in his mirrors and not letting him get close enough to attempt an overtake.
Drivex School’s Glenn van Berlo had to be similarly defensive as Motopark’s Niklas Krutten closed in on him at the end of the race. Krutten had stalled at the start and dropped to the back, but charged back up the order – including a great pass on Shihab Al Habsi – and ended up just short of finishing in seventh and still earning four points and a rookie podium finish for his effort.
A spin for van Berlo’s team-mate Al Habsi meant he lost ninth place to CryptoTower driver Rui Andrade, and a similar mistake left VAR’s third driver Alexandre Bardinon a lap down.
Title contender Zane Maloney had an unfortunate race, as he picked up an early puncture on his Carlin-run car then returned to the pits several times on the way to finishing five laps down.