GP3: Arjun Maini endures torrid weekend at Jerez after difficult qualifying
Arjun Maini started Round 7 in the 2017 GP3 Series season with a 12th place finish in the lone practice session on Friday at Jerez – 0.962s off ART’s George Russell’s time.
The qualifying was a difficult one for the Indian as the Jenzer driver only managed 19th position, after he was unable to better his practice time in the 15 laps he did.
The pole battle was among the ART drivers as Honda protégé Nirei Fukuzumi snatched the top spot from Jack Aitken, while Russell completed the Top 3.
It was a steady start to Maini’s race from the back, with him losing out to DAMS’ Bruno Baptista but still gaining a place after contact for other drivers.
The Indian had another position gained to be 17th on Lap 10 after an unscheduled stop for Campos’ Marcos Siebert.
He was then in a fight with Baptista for 16th, with the two involved in a wheel-to-wheel action briefly on a track which is difficult for overtaking.
The Brazilian utilised the difficulty to stay ahead, as Maini was forced to settle for a meager 17th place. Up front, Fukuzumi took a lights-to-flag win as Russell cleared Aitken in the opening lap to finish second and third respectively.
The Sprint race on Sunday started with Maini making up three places off the line to move to 14th, as teammate Alessio Lorandi led the way at the front from reverse-grid pole.
It was then a procession of a race with little action until the last few laps when Arden's Niko Kari and DAMS' Dan Ticktum came together, bringing out the safety car.
A last lap shootout didn't change things as Lorandi still managed to take his first win of the season and Jenzer's second, ahead of Trident's Dorian Boccolacci.
Behind, Kari survived the bump to take his second podium of the season, while a fifth place for Mercedes junior Russell sealed the 2017 GP3 title with two races to spare.
For Maini, the Indian made up a position due to Ticktum's retirement to be 13th - keeping Baptista at bay, whom he couldn't clear in Saturday's race.
The Bangalorean was also stuck behind the fighting Arden pair of Leonardo Pulcini and Steijn Schothorst all-through the 17 laps.
After seven rounds in the 2017 season, Russell has the GP3 title with 188 points, while Maini sits ninth with 53 to his name.
The championship now heads for the season-finale during the November 24-26 weekend at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.
UPDTAE: A post-race time penalty to Kari, gave ART's Anthoine Hubert a podium finish, while Maini finished 12th as a result.