George Russell wasted no time in making progress from third as he squeezed his way past his teammate, Jack Aitken, before they had even got to turn four. Fukuzumi got a great start and, with his teammates squabbling behind, was untroubled during the first lap, securing his lead.
Kevin Joerg picked up a puncture and, following a trip to the gravel, made a pitstop at the end of lap 1 with only hopes of a safety car keeping him going, but it wasn’t to be. Calderon took contact in lap one and slipped from eighth into 13th with Raoul Hyman also falling victim to lap one damage and pitting for a new wing.
For the next 15 laps they paced themselves, dropping back a few tenths from the car in front to prepare to mount an attack in the latter stages, most managing to stay within DRS range of the car in front.
For the duration, the ART guys traded fastest laps up front but Aitken began to come under pressure from Dan Ticktum in the Dams in fourth. Jerez isn’t known for it’s array of overtaking opportunities and, despite Ticktum closing the gap to the ART, he wasn’t able to find a way past and crossed the line as he started, in fourth. Impressive stuff in this, his second race in GP3.
There was a fierce battle for reverse grid pole between Giuliano Alesi in ninth and Alessio Lorandi ahead. On the final lap of the race, Alesi found space where no one else could into turn six, making the move stick to take provisional reverse grid pole for Race 2.
It was a close one with a kiss of wheels on the way past, so the stewards are having a look at it and the order may yet change.
Nirei Fukuzumi lead every lap to take the win ahead of George Russell and Jack Aitken, making it another ART 1, 2, 3. With that, Russell extends his lead in the championship to 46 points, meaning he can still clinch it tomorrow.
Here is the provisional classification following Race 1
Race 2 gets underway at 10am UK time on Sunday.