Jenzer’s Alessio Lorandi has taken his maiden GP3 victory in the sprint race at Jerez, as Mercedes protégé George Russell claimed the title by the narrowest of margins.
Lorandi led all 17 laps from pole position to stand on the podium for the fourth time in the series, finishing ahead of Dorian Boccolacci by 0.7s in a largely uneventful encounter.
Russell needed to outscore Aitken by a minimum of four points if Aitken did not win to claim championship triumph and the most important move was made by him on the opening lap as he passed ART team-mate Jack Aitken to move into sixth place.
Honda-backed Nirei Fukuzumi then passed the Renault academy racer for seventh moments later. Russell had a points advantage of three before claiming an additional two points for the fastest lap, set on his fourth lap.
A collision between Red Bull colleagues Niko Kari and Dan Ticktum with under four laps remaining promoted Russell to fifth and increased his on-track advantage to Aitken to six points behind team-mate Anthoine Hubert as Ticktum was left stranded in a gravel trap.
Ticktum attacked third-placed Kari in search of his first podium in his first sprint event following the cancellation of Sunday action at Monza, but the front right of Kari’s car made contact with left rear of Ticktum’s at the left-handed Turn 4 with five laps remaining, causing a safety car period.
This period ended to give the drivers one lap of racing before the end, but Russell defended to hold on to fifth and claim the title, moving 50 points ahead with 48 remaining at the final round at Abu Dhabi. It is his first championship since winning the BRDC Formula 4 series in 2014.
Ferrari academy member – and son of former F1 driver Jean – Giuliano Alesi was made to rue his move on Lorandi on Saturday after being demoted to ninth on the grid as he was unable to make any major progress up the field. Despite putting some pressure on Aitken, staying within a second throughout, he was eighth.
Sauber development driver Tatiana Calderon was just outside the points positions in ninth, while Julien Falchero completed the top 10.
Haas-backed Arjun Maini ended the contest in 13th place.