Prema driver and Red Bull junior Dennis Hauger dominated the first feature race of the Formula 3 season, putting in a lights-to-flag performance and taking the fastest lap for maximum points.
Hauger looked to have lost the lead at the start as he got bogged down at the launch and had to fight a four-wide battle down to Turn 1 with Jack Doohan, Victor Martins and Matteo Nannini. But Hauger managed to keep ahead going into the first corner, while Martins and Nannini assumed second and third and Doohan was shuffled down to fourth.
Nannini moved up to second at the end of the second lap, as Martins ran wide through the final corner and allowed the HWA through. But as Hauger set the fastest lap out front and moved out of DRS range, Nannini was unable to make any in-roads into the Prema’s lead.
Nannini and Martins then both came under pressure from Doohan as he recovered from his start. After taking third from Martins on lap 9, Doohan then reeled in Nannini and passed him for second on lap 12.
But just like Nannini, Doohan was unable to catch Hauger, who was more than three seconds further up the road by this point. Hauger eventually crossed the line with almost four seconds in hand, with Doohan and Nannini completing the podium.
Martins lost another position in the final laps, finishing fifth behind yesterday’s second race winner Olli Caldwell. Clement Novalak took sixth ahead of Frederik Vesti, Caio Collet and Logan Sargeant, and Hitech’s Roman Stanek took his first point of the year in tenth.
Hauger now leads the drivers’ championship after Barcelona with 34 points, two ahead of teammate Caldwell and six clear of Novalak. Prema leads the teams’ standings with 66 points, 17 ahead of Trident in second. Find the full F3 championship standings here.
Olli Caldwell took his first Formula 3 win in the second Barcelona sprint race, inheriting the lead late on after two separate battles for the win ahead of him ended in collisions.
The race started with Enzo Fittipaldi on reverse pole ahead of David Schumacher, Matteo Nannini, Victor Martins and Dennis Hauger. At lights out the top five all got away in order, while Caldwell went from seventh to sixth by passing Frederik Vesti.
The first four laps ran behind the safety car, after Logan Sargeant and Alex Smolyar came together further back at the start. When the race resumed on lap 5, Schumacher started pressuring Fittipaldi for the lead by keeping within DRS range, while Hauger and Caldwell took advantage of Martins running wide to take fourth and fifth respectively.
After making several attempts to pass Fittipaldi under DRS into Turn 1, Schumacher finally took the lead of the race on lap 12. However, Schumacher wasn’t able to pull clear at the front and Fittipaldi attempted to retake the lead at Turn 1 on lap 14.
Schumacher fended off Fittipaldi on that occasion, but the Brazilian came back around the outside of Turn 1 on the following lap. But as they went side by side through Turn 2, the pair made contact which took them both out of the race, brought out the safety car, and handed the lead to Nannini.
When the safety car came in at the end of lap 17, Hauger immediately challenged Nannini from second but was rebuffed into the first corner. Hauger kept close to the HWA through the next couple of laps and tried another move up the inside of Turn 1 on lap 20, but remarkably they too collided as they went side by side into Turn 2.
As Nannini was spun round and Hauger lost his front wing, Caldwell avoided the incident to lead from Martins and Vesti with three laps remaining. Martins tried to pass Caldwell into the first corner on the final lap but bailed out of the move onto the runoff area, leaving Caldwell clear to take the win.
Martins finished in second and Vesti third, ahead of Clement Novalak and Caio Collet. Red Bull juniors Jonny Edgar, Ayumu Iwasa, Jack Doohan and Jak Crawford finished in formation from sixth to ninth, and Juan Manuel Correa took the final point on his first weekend back racing.
ART’s Alex Smolyar took the first win of the 2021 Formula 3 season in Barcelona, beating Clement Novalak and rookie Caio Collet.
Smolyar and Collet started from second and third behind reverse polesitter Jonny Edgar, and held position behind the Carlin at the start. Behind them, Novalak jumped from sixth to fourth by passing Logan Sargeant and David Schumacher.
Smolyar stuck with Edgar through the opening laps, and on lap four he took the lead at the inside of Turn 1 under DRS. Edgar tried to return the move on the following lap, but Smolyar was able to hold the Carlin off and start pushing out of DRS range.
As Smolyar opened up a gap at the front, Edgar started to struggle with his tyres and came under pressure from Collet and Novalak. On lap 10 Collet tried a move for second at Turn 1 but lost momentum around the outside, which allowed Novalak to pass the Brazilian for third.
Novalak then overtook Edgar for second on lap 14, while Collet got through for third a lap later. As the race entered its final stage, Smolyar reported losing rear grip as Novalak started to eat into the Russian’s lead.
But as Novalak got close to DRS range, the race was halted when Oliver Rasmussen went off into the gravel on lap 18 and brought out the safety car.
This proved to be Smolyar’s saving grace, as there wasn’t enough time for the safety car to come in before the chequered flag — aided somewhat by the tractor recovering Rasmussen’s car getting stuck in the gravel itself.
Smolyar therefore took the win ahead of Novalak and Collet, while Sargeant finished fourth for Charouz having passed Edgar just before the safety car was deployed. Olli Caldwell finished sixth in his first race for Prema, ahead of Frederik Vesti, Dennis Hauger, Victor Martins and Matteo Nannini.
Smolyar took the additional points for fastest lap, and Enzo Fittipaldi finished twelfth to start the second sprint race on reverse pole.
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.