One Hand on the Title? Da Costa impresses with another masterclass in Berlin

Is there any stopping Antonio Felix da Costa on his charge to his first Formula E title? After the first two races in Berlin, it’s beginning to certainly look that way.  There was a sense of deja vu in Formula E’s second race of the season finale as da Costa continued his assault on the title with a stunning performance to put himself squarely in title contention.

The Techeetah man dominated qualifying again, pipping Nissan’s Sebastien Buemi to the pole position by three tenths. It was another masterclass from the Portuguese driver to hand himself another three points and secure his second pole position in two races. A surprise addition to superpole was Alex Lynn. Returning for the third time to the electric series into the seat vacated by Pascal Wehrlein, Lynn scored bragging rights over teammate Jerome D’Ambrosio and again highlighted the exceptional pace of the Mahindra over one lap. De Vries again featured in superpole but was only able to manage P4 after struggling with oversteer on his flying lap. However, it was a better day for Audi power with both Robin Frijns and Lucas di Grassi managing to slide into superpole, but ultimately, both drivers had scrappy laps and had to settle for P5 and P6 respectively.

Credit: Formula E

Da Costa led the race from pole and again looked unbothered by his competitors, with only a slight wobble when he took his first attack mode,  just managing to stay clear of Buemi in P2. He held off the Nissan man to take his third win of the season and extend his advantage on his title rivals, opening up the gap to a massive 41 points. On the other side of the garage, reigning champion Jean-Eric Vergne struggled again with Max Gunther and Sam Bird both managing to jump him at the start. After scoring no points in the first round of the first race, he eventually had to settle for P10 after struggling with tyre degradation in the latter stages of the race, allowing both Edo Mortara and ex-teammate Andre Lotterer to get the jump on him.

Robin Frijns had a reversal in fortune as the Envision Virgin Racing driver managed to send it up the inside of Alex Lynn to snatch P4 in the opening stages of the race, before pouncing on de Vries for the final podium position a few laps later. However, his hopes of a podium were dashed by Lucas di Grassi who pounced during the first round of attack mode, taking advantage of Nyck de Vries’ stricken Mercedes who came to a halt, bringing out the full course yellow.

Frijns began to fight back in the dying stages of the race, but it was to no avail and the former champion held out for the final podium position. Vandoorne was also brought into the podium fight as he executed a stunning move, sweeping past both Oliver Rowland and Sam Bird. However, despite using his fanboost, he was not able to get past Frijns and di Grassi to record his first podium finish of the season, leaving Buemi and di Grassi to reap the benefits.

DAC is back! Da Costa reigns supreme for first race of FE finale

Driving a Techeetah, winner of Formula E’s constructors championship last year, Antonio Felix da Costa was always expected to achieve great things at the Chinese-based team. The Portuguese driver has had somewhat of an interesting journey in Formula E, starting out from the doldrums of Aguri, a team that couldn’t keep up with the financial demands of the electric series and folded in the second season. Da Costa settled at Amlin Andretti, but it wasn’t until the fifth season when BMW entered the fray full-time that the team began to really challenge for race wins. It wasn’t a shock last year when Da Costa was announced to be filling the seat alongside double world champion Jean-Eric Vergne. His previous season with BMW i Andretti had been one of his strongest showings and he had claimed victory in the first race at Riyadh before trailing off towards the latter end of the season. Da Costa entered this season, hungry and eager to prove himself – and he has so far. Before the covid-20 pandemic put the season on pause, Da Costa had taken his first win with the team in Marrakesh and had two second place finishes in Santiago and Mexico.

Credit: Formula E

It was critical that he kept the momentum going and pressure on his other title rivals after a lengthy break as Formula E returned to Berlin for a blockbuster six race season finale to be held over the next nine days. The Techeetah man did his job by taking a dominant pole position, beating out his teammate and defending champion Jean-Eric Vergne by a margin of three tenths. Andre Lotterer put in a decent first two sectors to slot into P3, whilst Nissan’s Sebastien Buemi too held promise but fell just short in the final sector, having to settle for P4. Nyck de Vries had to settle for P5 after a costly mistake in sector 2, a disappointing result for the Dutchman who had been the quickest in the final practise session and Jerome D’Ambrosio was finally able to lift his struggling Mahindra into P6.

Da Costa held his position at the start of the race, whilst Lotterer made a poor start and was immediately pressured by Buemi. The Nissan man was forced to yield, but after a few laps, the train of cars behind Lotterer became difficult to ignore as the two Techeetahs of Da Costa and Vergne began to build a gap. However, it was soon wiped away as Robin Frijns was punted into the wall by Max Gunther, bringing out the safety car to erase the time the two Techeetahs had carved out.

Credit: Formula E

As the race restarted, Da Costa got away with no problems as Sam Bird managed to pounce on D’Ambrosio for P6 and began to pressurise fifth placed de Vries as Lotterer began to mount a challenge on his ex-teammate Vergne for P2. His hard work was undone as he missed the attack mode marker and fell victim to de Vries, before snatching the final podium position back a few laps later by pressurising the Dutchman into a mistake. Massa was the second casualty of the race, the Brazilian locked up on the approach to turn one, stranding for Venturi at the corner and bringing out a full course yellow as the time ticked down. The racing soon got underway once again and Da Costa just held onto the lead when deploying his final attack mode to stay ahead of teammate Vergne, as Lotterer and Bird battled for the final podium position, it was a fight that would continue into the latter stages. Vergne soon began to drop down the order in the final stages of the race, presumably struggling with energy consumption issues before any hope of points was wiped out as Audi’s Lucas di Grassi hit him on the penultimate lap, sending the reigning champion back to the garage to lick his wounds.

Da Costa cemented his status as championship leader and looked relatively unbothered for the majority of the race, despite a nervy last half lap where he looked in danger of running out of energy, claiming his second win of the season, ahead of Andre Lotterer and Sam Bird who finally got his championship hopes back on track. However, despite this seemingly easy win, Berlin threw some sparks out in the form of the building pressure between Da Costa and teammate Vergne, the Frenchman not impressed by what he felt was overconsumption of energy needed to make sure he kept up with his teammate. Only time will tell in the next nine days as Formula E will return tomorrow.

 

 

F2 Great Britain preview: Silverstone reset for Shwartzman and Ilott

Formula 2 is back this weekend for the fifth round of the 2020 championship, returning to Silverstone in support of the F1 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.

For title protagonists Robert Shwartzman and Callum Ilott, revisiting Silverstone will provide a much-needed second chance at the circuit after a trying round for them both last weekend.

For Shwartzman, who had previously only finished outside the top four once this year, the British Grand Prix weekend was little short of a nightmare. What began with a lowly qualifying position of 18th for the feature race ended with a best finish of 13th in the sprint race and no points scored for the championship leader.

Shwartzman’s pain was lessened somewhat by Ilott stalling on the feature race grid and spinning out of contention for the sprint race victory, meaning the UNI-Virtuosi driver was unable to capitalise on Shwartzman’s struggles and snatch away the championship lead. However, Ilott’s recovery to fifth in the feature race moved him to within eight points of Shwartzman.

Robert Shwartzman, Prema (Courtesy of Prema Racing)

Shwartzman and Ilott’s struggles mean they’ll now be driving with renewed focus on the chasing pack behind them.

In particular, Christian Lundgaard underlined the pace he’s been showing all season with fourth place in the feature race and second in the sprint race last weekend, putting him just four points behind Ilott and twelve behind Shwartzman. Another strong finish ahead of his rivals this weekend could well see Lundgaard leave Silverstone as the new championship leader.

The top two will also be keenly aware of Hitech’s Nikita Mazepin. The Russian came alive at Silverstone last weekend, taking his first F2 win in the feature race and battling up to fifth in race two, and certainly has the pace to be a threat again this time out.

What’s more, Dan Ticktum is lurking just one point behind Mazepin after taking his own maiden victory in the last sprint race. However, Ticktum’s three podium visits so far have all come in sprint races, so he’ll need to translate that clear speed to a top three in the feature races if he’s going to start troubling the title contenders.

Nikita Mazepin, Hitech (Joe Portlock / Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Just behind the top five, a kind of “Class B” is forming between Guanyu Zhou, Louis Deletraz, Felipe Drugovich, Mick Schumacher and Yuki Tsunoda. While their results over the season so far haven’t kept them in touch with the title battle, they’re all still formidable over a race weekend and each proved this last time out in Silverstone.

Zhou, Deletraz and Tsunoda were all on the podium across last weekend, while Drugovich took pole for the feature race and Schumacher was in contention for the victory before his tyres gave up on him in the final stages.

All of them bar Drugovich are still looking for their first win this season, and given the pace they’ve already shown around Silverstone, that could come for any of them this weekend.

Yuki Tsunoda, Carlin (Dutch Photo Agency / Red Bull Content Pool)

Indianapolis 500 U-turn, closes doors to fans

The 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 will take place without fans for the first time in its history. This will arguably be the biggest impact “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” has seen since the series of cancellations between 1942 and 1945 during America’s intervention in World War Two.

The US has been significantly effected by the Coronavirus pandemic, and while federal laws try their best to limit the spread of the disease, state laws can take matters into their own hands. It seems this is what has happened.

A few weeks ago, it had been reported that the 500 was to happen with spectator capacity capped at 50%. The speedway then lowered that number to 25%, releasing an 88-page document detailing the safety procedures that were to be implemented.

The seating capacity of the speedway holds upward of 250,000 people. Given this, the upward trajectory of fans would have been close to 62,500 people, not including staff, teams, media and drivers.

The Indiana State Department of Health on Tuesday reported an additional 836 cases and 14 deaths from Coronavirus, bringing the state’s totals to 69,255 cases and 2,794 deaths.

Indiana’s seven-day moving average positivity rate was 7.3% compared to earlier averages of 5%. Therefore, discussions were held between local and state governments and the speedway took the decision to remove the prospect of fans in the speedway so as to mitigate the risk of transmission.

Chris Owens / IndyCar Media

Roger Penske, owner of the circuit, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the U-turn was:

“The toughest business decision I’ve ever made in my life.” “We didn’t buy the Speedway for one year, we bought it for generations to come, and it’s important to our reputation to do the right thing,”

This will be financially devastating, as the circuit makes most of its revenue from the 500 and will inevitably come under economic pressure as a consequence.

Penske continued by saying: “We need to be safe and smart about this, obviously we want full attendance, but we don’t want to jeopardize the health and safety of our fans and the community. We also don’t want to jeopardize the ability to hold a successful race.”

It was clear how the situation would unfold when IU Health, the state’s largest health care system and a partner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, publicly criticised the attendance of fans at the raceway.

“Until we sustain better control of this virus and its spread,” IU iterated, “we strongly encourage IMS to consider an alternative to running the Indy 500 with fans in August.”

This follows a wave of schedule alterations, including the cancellation of Portland, Laguna Seca and the postponement of the Mid-Ohio race scheduled for the weekend of the 8th August, with many races including at Road America and Iowa already holding races with fans in attendance, but at a reduced capacity.

Tim Holle / IndyCar MediaThe 500 is still scheduled to take place from Memorial weekend to August 23rd.

Feature image courtesy of Joe Skibinksi / IndyCar Media

Listen: PitCast interview with Sabré Cook

In the latest special episode of the PitCast, we caught up with Indy Pro 2000 and W Series driver Sabré Cook.

Fresh off the back of the second round of the Indy Pro 2000 season at Mid-Ohio, we spoke to Sabré about her Road to Indy journey, her W Series goals and involvement in their esports league, and her work with the Renault F1 team and Infiniti Engineering Academy last year.

Sabré is currently competing part-time in the 2020 Indy Pro 2000 championship with Team Benik and was due to race in the second season of the W Series before its cancellation earlier in the year.

You can listen to the latest episode of the PitCast below, and also here on YouTube. Catch up on all our past episodes here.

 

F3 Great Britain: Smolyar loses sprint race win to post-race penalty

Aleksandr Smolyar has lost the victory he took in the Formula 3 sprint race at Silverstone on Sunday following a post-race time penalty for weaving, handing the win to David Beckmann.

Smolyar’s driving while defending the lead from Beckmann late in the race was noted by the stewards on lap 16, and the Russian was repeatedly told on team radio to stop weaving. The stewards elected to investigate the issue after the race, and have since awarded Smolyar a five-second penalty which demotes him to sixth.

The penalty promotes Trident’s Beckmann to his second win of the season, with Clement Novalak second and Alex Peroni third. Frederik Vesti and Logan Sargeant move up to fourth and fifth respectively.

The revised result means Sargeant is now 17 points behind Piastri in the standings, while Vesti moves ahead of Liam Lawson into fourth. Smolyar drops a place to tenth behind Novalak.

Revised race result:

Pos. Driver Team Points
1 David Beckmann Trident 15
2 Clement Novalak Carlin Buzz Racing 12
3 Alex Peroni Campos Racing 10
4 Frederik Vesti Prema Racing 8
5 Logan Sargeant (FL) Prema Racing 8
6 Aleksandr Smolyar ART Grand Prix 5
7 Liam Lawson Hitech Grand Prix 4
8 Theo Pourchaire ART Grand Prix 3
9 Richard Verschoor MP Motorsport 2
10 Jake Hughes HWA Racelab 1
11 Lirim Zendelli Trident
12 Ben Barnicoat Carlin Buzz Racing
13 Federico Malvestiti Jenzer Motorsport
14 Calan Williams Jenzer Motorsport
15 David Schumacher Charouz Racing System
16 Bent Viscaal MP Motorsport
17 Dennis Hauger Hitech Grand Prix
18 Roman Stanek Charouz Racing System
19 Enzo Fittipaldi HWA Racelab
20 Max Fewtrell Hitech Grand Prix
21 Sophia Floersch Campos Racing
22 Sebastian Fernandez ART Grand Prix
23 Lukas Dunner MP Motorsport
24 Matteo Nannini Jenzer Motorsport
25 Cameron Das Carlin Buzz Racing
26 Olli Caldwell Trident
27 Jack Doohan HWA Racelab
28 Alessio Deledda Campos Racing
Ret. Oscar Piastri Prema Racing
Ret. Igor Fraga Charouz Racing System

F3 Great Britain: Smolyar fights off Beckmann for first F3 win

Aleksandr Smolyar took his first Formula 3 win in the Silverstone sprint race, fighting off a rapid David Beckmann in the closing laps.

Smolyar got a good start from his reverse grid pole to hold the lead from Beckmann on the first lap. By lap 4 the Russian was able to just break out of DRS range of Beckmann, but this gap was lost on the following lap when Igor Fraga stopped on track and brought out the safety car.

At the restart Smolyar and Beckmann again held position, but Beckmann was able to stick with the ART and prevent Smolyar breaking more than a second away. After setting the fastest lap, Beckmann made his first move for the lead on lap 14, diving to the inside at Stowe. Beckmann momentarily took first, but Smolyar was able to repass him immediately.

Beckmann tried the same move on the following lap, but was again unsuccessful and fell back from Smolyar into the clutches of third-placed Clement Novalak. Beckmann managed to recover and get within two tenths of Smolyar in the final laps, but ultimately was unable to find a way around the ART. Smolyar eventually crossed the line with just half a second in hand over Beckmann, with Novalak close behind in third.

David Beckmann, Trident (Bryn Lennon / Getty Images)

Alex Peroni finished fourth, capping off a strong weekend at Silverstone. Frederik Vesti and Logan Sargeant took fifth and sixth for Prema, with Sargeant also taking the points for fastest lap. Vesti and Sargeant were able to take advantage of technical woes for their championship rival and teammate Oscar Piastri, who was forced to retire on lap 11 when his DRS flap stuck open.

Saturday’s feature race winner Liam Lawson finished seventh after a fierce battle with the Premas ahead. Theo Pourchaire, Richard Verschoor and Jake Hughes rounded out the top ten.

Despite logging his first retirement of the year, Piastri still leads the championship after round four with 94 points over Sargeant’s 76. Beckmann’s podium keeps him in third place ahead of Lawson. Smolyar’s sprint race win moves him up to ninth.

In the teams’ standings, Prema have extended their lead over ART to 117.5 points. Trident remain in third with only 8.5 points between them and ART, while Hitech move up to fourth following Lawson’s win this weekend. Find the full Formula 3 drivers’ and teams’ standings here.

Formula 3 returns to Silverstone next weekend in support of the Formula 1 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.

Clive Mason / Formula 1 via Getty Images

Full race result:

Pos. Driver Team Points
1 Aleksandr Smolyar ART Grand Prix 15
2 David Beckmann Trident 12
3 Clement Novalak Carlin Buzz Racing 10
4 Alex Peroni Campos Racing 8
5 Frederik Vesti Prema Racing 6
6 Logan Sargeant (FL) Prema Racing 7
7 Liam Lawson Hitech Grand Prix 4
8 Theo Pourchaire ART Grand Prix 3
9 Richard Verschoor MP Motorsport 2
10 Jake Hughes HWA Racelab 1
11 Lirim Zendelli Trident
12 Ben Barnicoat Carlin Buzz Racing
13 Federico Malvestiti Jenzer Motorsport
14 Calan Williams Jenzer Motorsport
15 David Schumacher Charouz Racing System
16 Bent Viscaal MP Motorsport
17 Dennis Hauger Hitech Grand Prix
18 Roman Stanek Charouz Racing System
19 Enzo Fittipaldi HWA Racelab
20 Max Fewtrell Hitech Grand Prix
21 Sophia Floersch Campos Racing
22 Sebastian Fernandez ART Grand Prix
23 Lukas Dunner MP Motorsport
24 Matteo Nannini Jenzer Motorsport
25 Cameron Das Carlin Buzz Racing
26 Olli Caldwell Trident
27 Jack Doohan HWA Racelab
28 Alessio Deledda Campos Racing
Ret. Oscar Piastri Prema Racing
Ret. Igor Fraga Charouz Racing System

F2 Great Britain: Mazepin storms to maiden feature race win

Hitech’s Nikita Mazepin took his maiden Formula 2 win in the Silverstone feature race, prevailing over a rotation of challengers behind.

The race started with a slow launch for polesitter Felipe Drugovich, allowing Mick Schumacher to take the lead into Turn 1 while Mazepin jumped Christian Lundgaard for third. Drugovich, starting on the hard tyres compared to the medium runners around him, continued to struggle for pace through lap 1 and dropped to fourth behind Mazepin and Lundgaard.

Mazepin quickly got his own tyres up to temperature, closing up to Schumacher on lap 3 and then passing the Prema for the lead shortly after. By lap 5, Mazepin had already broken the DRS range to Schumacher, while Schumacher himself seemed to drop back towards Lundgaard.

Mick Schumacher, Prema (Clive Mason / Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Mazepin and Schumacher made their stops for hard tyres on lap 8, followed by Lundgaard a lap later. Although Schumacher gained time on Mazepin in the pitlane, he struggled more than the Russian when making his way through traffic.

On lap 12 Schumacher lost half a second passing Guilherme Samaia, then got stuck behind Artem Markelov. On lap 15 Lundgaard overtook Schumacher for net second, while Louis Deletraz closed to four tenths behind him.

Deletraz eventually passed Schumacher on lap 24, which prompted a fall through the order as the German lost out to Guanyu Zhou, Yuki Tsunoda and Callum Ilott over the next two laps.

Yuki Tsunoda, Carlin (Dutch Photo Agency / Red Bull Content Pool)

Deletraz didn’t stay in third for long, being passed himself by Zhou and Tsunoda on lap 25. Zhou and Tsunoda were running the alternate strategy with hard tyres, and lapping much faster than those on mediums. On lap 27 Zhou quickly caught and passed Lundgaard for second, while Tsunoda demoted the ART off the podium on the final lap.

But despite their pace advantage, Zhou and Tsunoda ran out of laps to catch Mazepin and had to settle for second and third respectively behind the Hitech.

Lundgaard finished fourth, while Ilott recovered from stalling on the formation lap and starting from the pitlane to take fifth ahead of Deletraz. Polesitter Drugovich suffered a slow pit stop and eventually finished down in seventh ahead of Dan Ticktum. Schumacher finished ninth, and Nobuharu Matsushita took the final point in tenth after passing Jehan Daruvala through the final corner of the last lap.

Felipe Drugovich, MP Motorsport (Rudy Carezzevoli / Getty Images)

Full race result:

Pos. Driver Team Points
1 Nikita Mazepin Hitech 25
2 Guanyu Zhou (FL) UNI-Virtuosi 20
3 Yuki Tsunoda Carlin 15
4 Christian Lundgaard ART 12
5 Callum Ilott UNI-Virtuosi 10
6 Louis Deletraz Charouz 8
7 Felipe Drugovich MP Motorsport 6
8 Dan Ticktum DAMS 4
9 Mick Schumacher Prema 2
10 Nobuharu Matsushita MP Motorsport 1
11 Pedro Piquet Charouz
12 Jehan Daruvala Carlin
13 Jack Aitken Campos
14 Robert Shwartzman Prema
15 Sean Gelael DAMS
16 Marcus Armstrong ART
17 Luca Ghiotto Hitech
18 Artem Markelov HWA
19 Giuliano Alesi HWA
20 Marino Sato Trident
21 Guilherme Samaia Campos
Ret. Roy Nissany Trident

F3 Great Britain: Lawson holds off Premas for feature race win

Liam Lawson took his second win of the Formula 3 season at the Silverstone feature race, seeing off the Premas of Oscar Piastri and Logan Sargeant in a race fraught with incidents.

Lawson started from second behind polesitter Sargeant. Although Sargeant held first off the line, Lawson was close enough to harry him throughout the opening lap and make a lunge around the outside of Stowe to steal the lead.

After a brief interruption on lap 4, when Matteo Nannini slowed on track and brought out a Virtual Safety Car, Lawson began pulling away from Sargeant. The American driver then dropped back into the clutches of teammate Piastri, who demoted Sargeant to third on lap 7.

Piastri was better able to keep pace with Lawson than Sargeant, closing to within half a second by lap 9. On lap 11 Piastri drew alongside Lawson under DRS and looked set to take first place, but the Australian ran wide over the kerbs and couldn’t complete the move.

Oscar Piastri, Prema (Bryn Lennon / Getty Images)

With Piastri right on his tail, Lawson was handed a saving grace shortly after when the safety car was deployed for Bent Viscaal, who spun after contact with Ben Barnicoat through Luffield and collected Jack Doohan’s HWA.

The safety car remained out for four laps, but was then redeployed almost immediately when Olli Caldwell spun in the middle of the pack and was hit heavily by Lukas Dunner and Max Fewtrell.

With Caldwell’s rear wing and suspension across the track, the race went on to end under the safety car, preserving Lawson’s first place over Piastri and Sargeant.

Jake Hughes finished fourth ahead of the third Prema of Frederik Vesti, with Alex Peroni climbing up from 18th on the grid to take sixth. Sebastian Fernandez finished seventh, Clement Novalak took eighth and the fastest lap, David Beckmann was ninth, and Aleksandr Smolyar took the reverse grid pole for the tomorrow in tenth.

Logan Sargeant, Prema (Rudy Carezzevoli / Getty Images)

Full race result:

Pos. Driver Team Points
1 Liam Lawson Hitech 25
2 Oscar Piastri Prema 18
3 Logan Sargeant Prema 15
4 Jake Hughes HWA 12
5 Frederik Vesti Prema 10
6 Alex Peroni Campos 8
7 Sebastian Fernandez ART 6
8 Clement Novalak (FL) Carlin 6
9 David Beckmann Trident 2
10 Aleksandr Smolyar ART 1
11 Richard Verschoor MP Motorsport
12 Theo Pourchaire ART
13 Lirim Zendelli Trident
14 Calan Williams Jenzer
15 Igor Fraga Charouz
16 Dennis Hauger Hitech
17 Roman Stanek Charouz
18 Enzo Fittipaldi HWA
19 Federico Malvestiti Jenzer
20 Ben Barnicoat Carlin
21 Cameron Das Carlin
22 Sophia Floersch Campos
23 Matteo Nannini Jenzer
24 Alessio Deledda Campos
25 David Schumacher Charouz
Ret. Olli Caldwell Trident
Ret. Max Fewtrell Hitech
Ret. Lukas Dunner MP Motorsport
Ret. Bent Viscaal MP Motorsport
Ret. Jack Doohan HWA

F3 Great Britain preview: can ART or Trident halt Prema’s dominance?

Formula 3 returns this weekend at historic Silverstone, for the fourth round of the 2020 season.

As things stand coming into Great Britain, championship leader Oscar Piastri has begun to break into a dominant position in the title fight. On 76 points so far, he is more than a feature race victory ahead of his nearest rival, teammate Logan Sargeant.

Apart from one eighth place in the first Austria sprint race, Piastri has consistently finished in the top five in every race so far this season, including a double podium last time out in Hungary. Meanwhile, Sargeant has yet to take victory this year, while third-placed driver Theo Pourchaire didn’t score points at all in the first round of the season.

David Beckmann, Trident (Joe Portlock / Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Piastri’s rivals might take some heart from the fact that Silverstone was one of the few rounds Prema didn’t dominate last year, with Juri Vips and Leonardo Pulcini taking both victories for Hitech Grand Prix.

Hitech don’t look to be the same contenders they were last year, despite Liam Lawson winning the first sprint race of the year in Austria and Dennis Hauger finishing third in Hungary. However, Trident and ART have both been close challengers to Prema in 2020 and will be pushing to deal any blow they can to the Italian team this weekend.

One driver in particular who could be a real headache for Prema and Piastri is David Beckmann, who comes to Silverstone off the back of his first F3 win in the Hungary sprint race. With two further podiums already to his name, Beckmann is also one of only three drivers—alongside Piastri and Richard Verschoor—to score in every race so far this season.

Aleksandr Smolyar, ART (Joe Portlock / Formula 1 via Getty Images)

As for ART, Pourchaire underlined his own championship credentials in Hungary by becoming the only repeat race winner of the season so far. The young Frenchman has a bit of ground to make up after his slow start to the campaign, but clearly has the speed to challenge for the podium this weekend.

But it’s not just Pourchaire carrying ART’s hopes. The French team has plenty more talent in its lineup in Sebastian Fernandez and Aleksandr Smolyar, both of whom have taken a feature race pole this year.

So far luck hasn’t been on their side, with Fernandez and Smolyar both retiring early from their respective pole position starts. But if either of them can marry up another strong qualifying performance with a clean race on Saturday, there’s no reason they can’t join the fight at the front with their teammate.