Rene Binder dominated the opening race of the weekend at the Circuit of the Americas, leading from start to finish without really being pressurised from behind.
After securing his maiden pole position for the race, the Lotus driver retained the lead at the start, with team-mate Pietro Fittipaldi slipping in behind ahead of the fast starting Matevos Isaakyan, who jumped from fifth on the grid into third heading into turn one.
However, Isaakyan did not have the pace to stay in touch with the Lotus duo, and soon found himself passed by SMP Racing by AVF team-mate Egor Orudzhev for third before finding himself embroiled in a battle with Teo Martin Motorsports duo Alex Palou and Konstantin Tereschenko.
The race was to be neutralised by a spin and retirement for Giuseppe Cipriani at turn seven that required the safety car to be deployed, and this allowed Orudzhev to make a pass on Fittipaldi for second on the first lap following the restart.
Palou eventually found a way passed Isaakyan for fourth but was penalised post-race one position for completing the move off-track, promoting the Russian back into fourth ahead of the Spaniard, while Roy Nissany ended up sixth for RP Motorsport after Alfonso Celis Jr lost a couple of places to the Israeli driver and Yu Kanamaru on the final lap.
Celis Jr’s Fortec Motorsports team-mate Diego Menchaca was the final classified finisher in ninth after Tereschenko’s efforts to pass Isaakyan ended four laps early, with the Russian having already hit the back of his compatriot’s car a handful of times before running across the kerbs at turn twelve that broke his suspension.
But no-one had an answer to Binder’s pace, who made a perfect restart after the safety car, eventually closing out the victory by 1.249 seconds from Orudzhev, with Fittipaldi almost eleven seconds back in third, although the Brazilian did manage to extend his advantage in the championship to eighteen points over Isaakyan with three races of the season remaining.