Formula 3 is back in action this weekend at Monza for the penultimate round of the 2020 championship.
What stands out most of all as the F3 field heads to Italy’s Temple of Speed is how tight several of the key championship battles are this late in the season.
Obviously the first of those battles to look at is the one between Prema’s Logan Sargeant and Oscar Piastri for the F3 title itself. After Piastri retook the title lead with a sprint race win in Barcelona, Sargeant returned the favour at Spa with his second win of the season, and the American now has the lead over his teammate again.
It is mathematically possible for Sargeant to win the championship this weekend. However, with only seven points currently separating them, he’d need everything to align perfectly and to outscore Piastri by 42 points across the two races.
It’s not impossible, but given Piastri has only failed to score in one race this season (and aside from that, hasn’t finished lower than eighth), it’s much more likely that Monza will set up a title showdown next week in Mugello instead.
Of the two, Sargeant has had the better track record at Monza so far in his career. He won there in his 2018 Formula Renault NEC campaign, and last year in F3 he finished in the top ten in both races for the uncompetitive Carlin team.
But although Piastri has yet to reach the podium at Monza, Prema will surely give him a car as capable of winning as Robert Shwartzman’s was in last year’s feature race, meaning he’ll be more than ready to take the fight to Sargeant on Saturday.
Just behind the top two is the tightest battle in the field, between David Beckmann and Liam Lawson for third in the standings. Beckmann currently holds the place but only by half a point, with Lawson on a much better run of form with podiums in every round since Silverstone.
Lawson ran well in Monza last year as well, taking second in the sprint race. However, Beckmann has experience of winning at the Temple of Speed as recently as 2018, having taken the GP3 feature race for Trident.
For Lawson, taking third place in the championship is all about recovering from the disastrous run of retirements that derailed his title campaign early in the year, and also convincing Red Bull to move him up the F1 feeder series ladder next year.
For Beckmann, he’ll be thinking of helping Trident to beat ART in their battle for second in the teams’ standings.
Further back again, just 5.5 points cover Jake Hughes, Richard Verschoor and Alex Peroni in the lower positions of the championship top ten.
The three drivers have had wildly different seasons so far. Peroni has the most podiums of the trio with three, but Hughes’ feature race win in Barcelona means he’s currently the one on top, while Verschoor has only had the one podium but scored more consistently across the year.
Monza is sure to be a significant race for Peroni, as it was in last year’s feature race that a frightening crash at the Parabolica left the Australian with a fractured vertebrae.
Since then he’s come back much stronger to lead Campos this year, and it would be a great result for him to move on from last year with another good result this weekend.