F3 Paul Ricard: Leclerc breaks points drought with sprint race win

Prema’s Arthur Leclerc dominated the second Paul Ricard sprint race, leading from pole position to the chequered flag to score his first win and first points of the season.

Leclerc got a perfect start from the head of the field, as second-placed Jak Crawford stalled as the lights went out and Olli Caldwell and Dennis Hauger had to avoid the Hitech rather than challenge for the lead.

Hauger initially got past Caldwell for second, but Caldwell retook the position after the first few corners and Hauger dropped back towards Ayumu Iwasa instead. But Iwasa wasn’t able to keep up the challenge and instead fell to fifth behind Jack Doohan by the end of lap 1.

Jack Doohan, Trident (Bryn Lennon, Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images / FIA Formula 3)

After the opening lap, the three Premas then started to pull away from Doohan and the rest of the field. Meanwhile, Victor Martins put in moves as he improved from 11th on the grid. By the end of lap 1 Martins was already up to sixth ahead of Juan Manuel Correa and Clement Novalak. On lap 3 Martins picked off Iwasa, then passed Doohan for fourth on lap 7.

At the front, Caldwell set a couple of fastest laps to keep within DRS range of Leclerc. But he was unable to get close enough to challenge for the lead, and instead he dropped to third on lap 8 as Hauger passed him into Turn 1.

However, Hauger was no more able to close the gap than Caldwell was, and Leclerc began setting fastest laps of his own. By lap 10 Leclerc was already more than two seconds clear of his teammates, helped somewhat by Hauger needing to drive defensively to keep Caldwell at bay.

Dennis Hauger, Prema (Clive Rose, Getty Images / FIA Formula 3)

As Leclerc built his gap up to three seconds in the closing laps, Caldwell’s pace dropped off and brought Martins into play for the podium. Martins managed to cut the gap from 2.3 seconds on lap 13 to a second on lap 18, before then taking third away from Caldwell on the penultimate lap.

Leclerc led Hauger across the line for a Prema 1–2, while Martins’ third place marked his second podium of the day. Doohan finished fifth behind Caldwell and ahead of teammate Novalak. Alex Smolyar, Calan Williams, Iwasa and Frederik Vesti rounded out the points.

F3 Paul Ricard: Smolyar denies Martins victory in frantic first sprint race

ART’s Alex Smolyar took his second win of the Formula 3 season in the opening Paul Ricard sprint race, seeing off four other race leaders including home favourite Victor Martins.

Smolyar started the race from sixth while Jenzer’s Calan Williams led the field away from reverse grid pole. While Williams held the lead at the start, David Schumacher was slow away from second and dropped to fifth behind Logan Sargeant, Ayumu Iwasa and Juan Manuel Correa.

Williams was unable to pull out of DRS range of Sargeant in the opening laps. Although Sargeant ran wide several times while in the Jenzer’s dirty air, the American overtook Williams for first place on lap 7.

Calan Williams, Jenzer (David Ramos, Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images / FIA Formula 3)

But Sargeant didn’t last long in the lead, as Iwasa followed him past Williams on the same lap and continued to pressure the Charouz. Iwasa took the lead himself on lap 10 at Signe, although he was handed a five second penalty for completing the move off the track.

While Iwasa continued to lead despite his penalty, Smolyar and Martins came into play in the leading pack. Smolyar had already passed Schumacher for fifth by the second lap, and took fourth from teammate Correa on lap 9. Martins meanwhile was climbing up the field from tenth on the grid, and was on Smolyar’s tail in fifth by lap 11.

Smolyar moved into the podium positions with a move on Williams for third on lap 14, then passed Sargeant for second when Sargeant again struggled in the dirty air behind Iwasa. Martins repeated the same moves on lap 16 to run third behind Iwasa and Smolyar.

Victor Martins, MP Motorsport (Rudy Carezzevoli, Getty Images / FIA Formula 3)

Smolyar and Martins then both overtook Iwasa on lap 17 with the Russian becoming the fourth leader of the race. But on the following lap, oversteer at Signe allowed Martins through to take the lead of his home race.

While Martins looked set to win with just three laps remaining, Smolyar remained within a few tenths to keep him under pressure. Smolyar then closed up behind Martins on the final lap, and retook the lead out of Signe. Martins came home in second, and Williams completed the podium after Iwasa’s penalty was applied.

Sargeant finished fourth ahead of Clement Novalak, Correa and Jack Doohan. Iwasa’s penalty dropped him to eighth, with championship leaders Dennis Hauger and Olli Caldwell rounding out the top ten. Their Prema teammate Arthur Leclerc finished 12th for the reverse grid pole for race two, having started at the back of the grid after crashing in qualifying.

F3 Paul Ricard preview: will Prema dominate again in France?

FIA Formula 3 returns this weekend for the second round of the season in Paul Ricard.

It’s a circuit that Prema will be very happy to return to. The last time F3 raced at Le Castellet, the Italian team dominated proceedings with a win apiece for Robert Shwartzman and Jehan Daruvala.

That past form bodes well for Prema considering they’ve also started this season with two wins out of the opening three races. But it’s an especially good omen for championship leader Dennis Hauger, who last time out took a near-perfect feature race win with pole and the fastest lap, and looked set to win the second sprint race too but for a collision with Matteo Nannini just three laps from the finish.

But while Hauger will enter the weekend as the early favourite, he’s not going to have it all his own way. His teammate Olli Caldwell, who inherited that second sprint race win from Hauger’s crash and sits just two points behind Hauger in the standings, will be looking for more podiums this weekend to establish his championship campaign.

Crucially, Caldwell has experience around Paul Ricard from his Formula 4 and Formula Regional European days while Hauger has never raced here before, so expect Caldwell to be a threat from the off.

Fresh start for Leclerc?

Arthur Leclerc, Prema (Courtesy of Prema Racing)

Speaking of Prema’s title protagonists, one name is conspicuously absent — Arthur Leclerc. The Monegasque had a torrid opening weekend in Barcelona. After qualifying just 15th for the feature race, Leclerc then had a puncture in race one, started from the back in race two, and finished 13th in the feature race itself.

He’ll be coming into Paul Ricard hoping to put that weekend behind him and reset his championship campaign with a solid result. Luckily for him, like Caldwell he’s also raced at Le Castellet before in previous categories, including two wins and a second place in his 2020 FREC season.

Leclerc will also know that this early in the season, he only needs a little reversal of fortune for himself and his Prema teammates and he’ll be right back in the game.

Novalak and Martins aiming for home glory

Victor Martins, MP Motorsport (Bryn Lennon, Getty Images / FIA F3)

Prema may be leading both championships, but their drivers are far from the only contenders for victory this weekend. And of their challengers, Clement Novalak and Victor Martins — third and fourth in the standings respectively — will have extra incentive to take up the fight as they come to their home race.

Martins burst onto the F3 scene in Barcelona with a superb third place in qualifying and a podium in the second sprint race. Expect to see him threaten the front in qualifying again, as one lap pace has been one of his strengths throughout his junior career so far.

Novalak meanwhile has shown some of the best race pace so far this season, and looks so at home with his new Trident team. Not that he’s any slouch in qualifying either, so he will be in the mix in any of the three races this weekend as he hunts his first F3 win.

Keep an eye out for Crawford

Jak Crawford, Hitech (Dutch Photo Agency / Red Bull Content Pool)

If experience is going to play any part in the results this weekend, then it’s hard to ignore Hitech’s Jak Crawford. The 18-year-old Red Bull junior had a respectable start to his rookie year with points in the second Barcelona sprint race, but it’s arguably his exploits outside of F3 that have marked him as a contender this time out.

Alongside F3, Crawford’s also doubling up a Euroformula Open campaign with Motopark. And at the last round at Paul Ricard, Crawford took pole position, scored the fastest lap across all three races, and came away with two wins and a second place.

Another Paul Ricard win might be a long shot for Crawford in F3, but at the very least look out for him running in the points or possibly challenging for a podium across the weekend.

F3 Barcelona preview: All eyes on the class of ’21

Formula 3 will take to Spain’s Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya this weekend for the opening round of the 2021 season.

This year, F3 will be following the same new weekend format used by Formula 2 in Bahrain. That means there will be two sprint races on Saturday, and one feature race before the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday.

Can anyone stop Prema?

Arthur Leclerc, Prema (Scuderia Ferrari Press Office)

As we get into a new season, the big question is whether Prema will once again be the team to beat. And looking at their new lineup, it would be hard to bet against them.

Dennis Hauger and Arthur Leclerc, from the Red Bull and Ferrari junior teams respectively, have already been outlined as title favourites. Hauger comes with an impressive resume of Formula 4 results as well as a season of F3 under his belt with Hitech last year, which included a podium at Hungary. As for Leclerc, he came close to winning last year’s Formula Regional European Championship, with only a retirement in the last round leaving him as runner-up.

Olli Caldwell will be the wildcard in Prema’s lineup. Like Hauger, Caldwell brings F3 experience after running with Trident last year, although he only scored points four times across the season. But don’t write him off based on that — Logan Sargeant did the same in his debut F3 year, before going on to be a title contender with Prema last year.

But while Prema has an impressive lineup, they won’t have it all their own way this year. New Mercedes junior Frederik Vesti, who won the joint-most races of anyone last year while driving for Prema, has moved to ART and will be aiming to challenge for the title there as Theo Pourchaire did in 2020.

Meanwhile, Prema’s closest challengers last year Trident have looked rapid during testing with their new lineup of Clement Novalak, Jack Doohan and David Schumacher. Novalak in particular will be one to watch, as he comes off the back of a debut F3 year that included two podium finishes for Carlin.

Watch out for the midfield pack

Jak Crawford, Hitech (David Ramos, Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images / courtesy of FIA F3)

But it’s not just the top three teams who could start their season off on top this weekend, as there’s an impressive crop of drivers in the midfield pack ready to make their mark.

For F1 fans, there are plenty of potential future Grand Prix drivers making their F3 debuts this weekend. As well as Hauger and Doohan, Red Bull have three more irons in the fire in the form of Jak Crawford and Ayumu Iwasa at Hitech, and Jonny Edgar at Carlin. Iwasa and Edgar were both F4 champions last year, while Crawford was runner-up to Edgar and a five-time race winner in ADAC F4.

Alpine has two exciting prospects in Victor Martins and Caio Collet, who are both racing for MP Motorsport this year. The two juniors spent last year duelling for the Formula Renault Eurocup title, with the crown going the way of Martins, and have carried that rivalry into F3 already as they topped three days of pre-season testing between them. Watch out for these two springing surprise results at the front of the field.

Victor Martins, MP Motorsport (David Ramos, Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images / courtesy of FIA F3)

Outside of the F1 junior spotlight, there’s also Matteo Nannini and Roman Stanek. They were two of the quieter revelations from last year, and now driving for HWA and Hitech respectively they’re well placed to make a big impression in their sophomore year.

Lastly, there’s the good news story that is the racing comeback of Juan Manuel Correa. Driving for ART, Correa will be returning to motorsport for the first time since the F2 crash at Spa in 2019 which left him with severe injuries and claimed the life of Anthoine Hubert.

Although this is Correa’s first time racing since 2019, and first time driving at this level since his 2018 GP3 season with Jenzer, he performed well in both pre-season tests earlier in the year. What’s more, with ART he’s got a great team to help him get up to speed quickly, so Correa’s progress this weekend will be well worth watching.

Check out the full list of F3 teams and drivers for this weekend here.

Arthur Leclerc joins Prema for 2021 F3 debut

Prema has announced that Arthur Leclerc will join their FIA Formula 3 team for the 2021 season.

Leclerc, a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy and young brother to Ferrari Formula 1 driver Charles, enters F3 after finishing runner-up in this year’s Formula Regional European Championship, also with Prema. Leclerc took six wins and eight poles to contend for the title, but a retirement in the final round left him unable to challenge eventual champion Gianluca Petecof.

In preparation for his move to F3, Leclerc has also driven for Prema in both of the post-season F3 tests at Barcelona and Jerez.

Arthur Leclerc, Prema (Joe Portlock / Formula 1 via Getty Images)

“I am really happy to announce that I will step up to FIA F3 with Prema Racing next year,” Leclerc said. “It will be a completely new challenge for me, a lot more drivers on the grid and a weekend format that looks really exciting! I can’t wait to start the season.”

Prema team principal René Rosin said: “I am delighted to welcome Arthur to our FIA Formula 3 operation. He experienced a high quality season in 2020, ending up with more wins than anybody else in the Regional championship.

“His skills come with a dedicated approach to the hard work behind the scenes, which is clearly what we are looking for at this level.”

Leclerc is set to be joined by Red Bull junior and F3 sophomore Dennis Hauger, who also ran with Prema throughout post-season testing. Prema also rotated David Schumacher, Roman Stanek, Caio Collet and Oliver Rasmussen between its third car.

F3: Doohan tops final post-season test

Trident’s Jack Doohan set the fastest time in Formula 3’s final post-season test at Jerez, ahead of teammate Clement Novalak.

Doohan set his best time of a 1:29.041s during his qualifying simulations in the morning session. This session was interrupted multiple times with red flags brought out for Alessandro Famularo (Campos), Olli Caldwell (ART), Francesco Pizzi (MP Motorsport) and Jonathan Hoggard (Campos), but Doohan was still able to log a respectable 42 laps in between the stoppages.

Novalak came close to Doohan in the sister Trident, but was ultimately kept off the top of the timesheets by just 0.019s. However, Novalak recorded more laps than his teammate with 45 in the morning session, and a day’s total of 101 to Doohan’s 92.

Jenzer’s Calan Williams had another strong day of testing as he again finished the day third-fastest. Williams was also second-fastest in the second session, with his 1:30.238s being only 0.14s slower than afternoon pacesetter Igor Fraga.

Igor Fraga, Hitech (Joe Portlock / Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Hitech rookie Jak Crawford was fourth-fastest overall ahead of Charouz’s David Beckmann. Dennis Hauger (Prema) and Caio Collet (ART) were early pacesetters before Doohan’s run, but ended the day sixth and seventh respectively.

Hoggard was eighth fastest despite ending the morning session early with his spin into the gravel at Turn 5. Arthur Leclerc (Prema) and Enzo Fittipaldi (HWA) were ninth and tenth.

Leclerc logged the fewest laps of the day with 60, while Charouz rookie Konsta Lappalainen recorded the most with 103, despite finishing 28th in the overall times.

Overall classification:

Pos. Driver Team Time (best) Laps (total)
1 Jack Doohan Trident 1:29.041 92
2 Clement Novalak Trident 1:29.060 101
3 Calan Williams Jenzer Motorsport 1:29.328 77
4 Jak Crawford (R) Hitech Grand Prix 1:29.336 97
5 David Beckmann Charouz Racing System 1:29.350 61
6 Dennis Hauger Prema Racing 1:29.361 64
7 Caio Collet (R) ART Grand Prix 1:29.461 93
8 Jonathan Hoggard (R) Campos Racing 1:29.514 68
9 Arthur Leclerc (R) Prema Racing 1:29.516 60
10 Enzo Fittipaldi HWA Racelab 1:29.558 90
11 Igor Fraga Hitech Grand Prix 1:29.622 102
12 Pierre-Louis Chovet HWA Racelab 1:29.628 88
13 David Schumacher Trident 1:29.674 75
14 Frederik Vesti ART Grand Prix 1:29.698 90
15 Olli Caldwell ART Grand Prix 1:29.705 86
16 Matteo Nannini Hitech Grand Prix 1:29.718 92
17 David Vidales (R) Campos Racing 1:29.728 87
18 Bent Viscaal MP Motorsport 1:29.833 72
19 Cameron Das Carlin Buzz Racing 1:29.917 72
20 Jonny Edgar (R) MP Motorsport 1:30.099 86
21 Oliver Rasmussen (R) Prema Racing 1:30.135 61
22 Reshad de Gerus (R) Charouz Racing System 1:30.285 87
23 Nazim Azman (R) Carlin Buzz Racing 1:30.310 82
24 Ido Cohen (R) Carlin Buzz Racing 1:30.410 80
25 Sophia Floersch HWA Racelab 1:30.590 89
26 Francesco Pizzi (R) MP Motorsport 1:30.634 75
27 Rafael Villagomez (R) Jenzer Motorsport 1:30.744 65
28 Konsta Lappalainen (R) Charouz Racing System 1:30.924 103
29 Filip Ugran (R) Jenzer Motorsport 1:30.960 75
30 Alessandro Famularo (R) Campos Racing 1:31.082 64

F3 testing: Stanek leads Leclerc in Jerez

Roman Stanek topped the first day of Formula 3’s final post-season test at Jerez, pipping Prema’s Arthur Leclerc by 0.048s.

Stanek, driving for ART after testing for Prema himself in Barcelona, bucked the trend of the first post-season test by setting his best and the overall fastest time in the afternoon session. The Czech driver was only 11th in the morning session, but in the afternoon he was one of only two drivers to dip below 1:30s with a 1:29.928s.

Leclerc was the other driver to do so with a 1:29.976s. Jonathan Hoggard, driving for Hitech, picked up his impressive display from the first test by finishing the day third-fastest, just 0.086s off Stanek’s benchmark.

Jack Doohan, returning with Trident, finished fourth overall after topping the morning session. Dennis Hauger was fifth for Prema and second behind Doohan in the morning.

Enzo Fittipaldi (HWA), Clement Novalak (Trident), Igor Fraga (Hitech), Frederik Vesti (ART) and rookie Caio Collet (Prema) rounded out the top ten.

Jack Doohan, Trident (Joe Portlock / Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Overall classification:

Pos. Driver Team Time (best) Laps (total)
1 Roman Stanek ART Grand Prix 1:29.928 67
2 Arthur Leclerc (R) Prema Racing 1:29.976 60
3 Jonathan Hoggard (R) Hitech Grand Prix 1:30.014 67
4 Jack Doohan Trident 1:30.161 54
5 Dennis Hauger Prema Racing 1:30.199 57
6 Enzo Fittipaldi HWA Racelab 1:30.202 63
7 Clement Novalak Trident 1:30.222 60
8 Igor Fraga Hitech Grand Prix 1:30.297 67
9 Frederik Vesti ART Grand Prix 1:30.338 70
10 Caio Collet (R) Prema Racing 1:30.356 61
11 David Schumacher Trident 1:30.431 74
12 David Beckmann Charouz Racing System 1:30.462 42
13 Calan Williams Jenzer Motorsport 1:30.473 65
14 Olli Caldwell ART Grand Prix 1:30.540 69
15 David Vidales (R) Campos Racing 1:30.541 67
16 Matteo Nannini MP Motorsport 1:30.566 63
17 Oliver Rasmussen (R) HWA Racelab 1:30.576 84
18 Pierre-Louis Chovet HWA Racelab 1:30.585 89
19 Jak Crawford (R) Hitech Grand Prix 1:30.688 62
20 Cameron Das Carlin Buzz Racing 1:30.696 54
21 Jonny Edgar MP Motorsport 1:30.748 62
22 Nazim Azman (R) Carlin Buzz Racing 1:30.927 65
23 Ido Cohen (R) Carlin Buzz Racing 1:31.151 62
24 Peter Ptacek (R) Campos Racing 1:31.159 71
25 Francesco Pizzi (R) MP Motorsport 1:31.255 66
26 Reshad de Gerus (R) Charouz Racing System 1:31.363 43
27 Alessandro Famularo (R) Campos Racing 1:31.390 68
28 Rafael Villagomez (R) Jenzer Motorsport 1:31.454 68
29 Filip Ugran (R) Jenzer Motorsport 1:31.870 68
30 Konsta Lappalainen (R) Charouz Racing System 1:32.037 68

F3: Novalak leads Trident 1–2 in post-season test

Clement Novalak ended the second day of Formula 3 testing in Barcelona on top of the timesheets, with Trident teammate Jack Doohan in second.

Novalak was on the pace throughout the morning session. Hitech’s Igor Fraga set the initial pace with a 1:33.033s, but this was swiftly beaten by Novalak. The Trident driver was briefly deposed by Matteo Nannini, driving from ART after topping yesterday’s test with Campos, but by the end of the session Novalak was back on top with a benchmark of 1:31.989s.

Nannini stayed in second until late in the session, when Doohan put in a 1:32.147s to drop Nannini to third ahead of Fraga. Doohan also recorded the most laps of the day with 91.

Jonathan Hoggard, Jenzer (David Ramos / Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Jenzer rookie Jonathan Hoggard impressed by ending the day fifth-fastest ahead of ART’s Olli Caldwell, and then topping the afternoon session which focused on race simulations.

Renault junior Victor Martins made it all three ARTs in the top seven, while Dennis Hauger (Prema), Calan Williams (Jenzer) and David Schumacher (Trident) rounded out the top ten.

Hauger was the only Prema driver in the top ten in the morning session, with Roman Stanek P17 and Arthur Leclerc P22. However, the reigning champions had a much stronger afternoon with Stanek and Hauger second and third behind Hoggard, and Leclerc fifth behind Fraga.

Overall classification:

Pos. Driver Team Time (best) Laps (total)
1 Clement Novalak Trident 1:31.989 80
2 Jack Doohan Trident 1:32.147 73
3 Matteo Nannini ART Grand Prix 1:32.252 91
4 Igor Fraga Hitech Grand Prix 1:32.290 86
5 Jonathan Hoggard (R) Jenzer Motorsport 1:32.328 73
6 Olli Caldwell ART Grand Prix 1:32.332 77
7 Victor Martins (R) ART Grand Prix 1:32.457 85
8 Dennis Hauger Prema Racing 1:32.472 67
9 Calan Williams Jenzer Motorsport 1:32.478 61
10 David Schumacher Trident 1:32.549 81
11 Enzo Fittipaldi HWA Racelab 1:32.575 84
12 Ben Barnicoat Carlin Buzz Racing 1:32.596 71
13 Jak Crawford (R) Hitech Grand Prix 1:32.599 77
14 Caio Collet (R) MP Motorsport 1:32.665 85
15 Pierre-Louis Chovet Hitech Grand Prix 1:32.784 85
16 Jonny Edgar (R) MP Motorsport 1:32.878 78
17 Roman Stanek Prema Racing 1:32.930 69
18 Michael Belov Charouz Racing System 1:33.056 65
19 William Alatalo (R) Campos Racing 1:33.079 79
20 Amaury Cordeel (R) MP Motorsport 1:33.087 77
21 Sophia Floersch Carlin Buzz Racing 1:33.092 71
22 Arthur Leclerc (R) Prema Racing 1:33.169 71
23 Patrik Pasma (R) Charouz Racing System 1:33.219 77
24 Ido Cohen (R) Carlin Buzz Racing 1:33.240 68
25 Alessandro Famularo (R) Campos 1:33.251 65
26 Oliver Rasmussen (R) HWA Racelab 1:33.339 68
27 Filip Ugran (R) Jenzer Motorsport 1:33.837 57
28 Rafael Villagomez (R) Campos Racing 1:33.840 79
29 Tijmen van der Helme (R) HWA Racelab 1:33.947 77
30 Josef Knopp (R) Charouz Racing System 1:34.604 78