The first F3 race of the weekend was a thriller as the slipstream effect was incredibly strong due to the headwind down the Mistral straight, and into the Turn 11 - Le Beausset - double right-hander. 

Smolyar’s impressive race pace was apparent from the early laps despite not running inside the top four as he held the fastest lap for much of the race.

The Russian’s charge started on Lap 9 as he overtook ART Grand Prix teammate Juan Manuel Correa into Turn 1.

Smolyar made light work of Calan Williams into the first corner on Lap 14 as the Australian couldn’t maintain enough pace to continue running inside the top three, having having started from pole. 

Two laps later, Smolyar was past Logan Sargeant before overtaking Ayumu Iwasa into the Turn 8 chicane.

Iwasa had claimed the lead after overtaking Williams into Le Beausset, but the stewards deemed that he had completed the move off the track and thus was handed a five-second penalty. 

As Smolyar made his charge through the field, Martins was doing the same from 10th on the grid. 

The Frenchman took the lead on Lap 18 into Turn 8 before relinquishing the lead again on the final lap to Smolyar.

Iwasa crossed the line in third, but his five-second penalty dropped him to eighth, handing Williams his first podium and points of the season.

Sargeant held onto fourth, having led the race at one point, ahead of Clement Novalak, Juan Manuel Correa and Jack Doohan. 

Dennis Hauger could only recover to ninth in the Prema, with Olli Caldwell rounding out the top ten.

It was an impressive showing by Jak Crawford to finish 11th after starting 16th.

The 16-year-old will share the front row in this afternoon’s second sprint race alongside Arthur Leclerc. 

Leclerc started 30th after suffering a mechanical issue in qualifying, but the Monegasque will line up on reverse grid pole.

Click here for the full Formula 3 race result from the first sprint race at Paul Ricard.