F3 Barcelona: Hauger dominates in near-perfect feature race

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.

Jack Doohan, Trident (Clive Mason, Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images / courtesy of FIA F3)

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.

F3 Barcelona: Caldwell takes maiden win in chaotic second sprint race

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.

L-R: Victor Martins, Olli Caldwell, Frederik Vesti (Joe Portlock, Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images / courtesy of FIA F3)

F3 Barcelona: Smolyar takes first blood in opening sprint race

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.

Jonny Edgar, Carlin (courtesy of Carlin Buzz Racing)

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.

Clement Novalak, Trident (Alexander Scheuber, Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images / courtesy of FIA F3)

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.

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.

Red Bull announces feeder placements for Vips, Lawson, Daruvala

The Red Bull Junior Team announced a raft of feeder series’ placements for its drivers today, including seats in Formula 2 for Juri Vips, Liam Lawson and Jehan Daruvala.

Vips will return to the series full-time after making a stand-in appearance for Sean Gelael at DAMS last year, and will partner New Zealander Lawson at Hitech Grand Prix. Lawson graduates to F2 from Formula 3, where he also drove for Hitech and took three wins in his 2020 sophomore season to finish fifth in the standings.

Daruvala will remain with Carlin for his second F2 campaign. The Indian driver improved on a difficult start to his rookie year with a run of strong results in the last five rounds, which were capped off with his first podium and sprint race win in the Bahrain double header.

Jehan Daruvala, Carlin (Joe Portlock / Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Red Bull also announced that three of its juniors will make their F3 debuts this year. Jonny Edgar and Jak Crawford, who finished first and second in the 2020 ADAC F4 championship, will race for Carlin and Hitech respectively. Honda-backed 2020 French F4 champion Ayumu Iwasa will also join Crawford at Hitech as a new member of the Red Bull Junior Team.

This follows Red Bull-supported Dennis Hauger being announced as one of Prema’s drivers at the end of last year.

Red Bull also added 13-year-old Swedish-British karter Arvid Lindblad to its junior team, following his championship victory in the 2020 OK Junior WSK Super Master Series.

Jonny Edgar, Red Bull Junior Team (Dutch Photo Agency / Red Bull Content Pool)

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

F3: Nannini fastest in first post-season test

Matteo Nannini topped the first day of Formula 3’s post-season test in Barcelona ahead of Jake Hughes and Calan Williams.

On his first day driving for Campos Racing, Nannini set his time of a 1:32.170s in the morning session, before switching to race simulations in the afternoon and logging a total of 64 laps. Hughes, returning to HWA, was only 0.257s slower than Nannini and set 62 laps overall.

Jenzer’s Williams led a tight trio of drivers with less than three tenths separating him from Dennis Hauger at Prema and ART rookie Victor Martins in fifth. Renault junior Martins, currently leading the 2020 Formula Renault Eurocup championship, was the only rookie within the top ten and had one of the highest lap counts with 74.

Victor Martins, ART (Photo Alexandre Guillaumot, DPPI / Renault Sport Media)

Enzo Fittipaldi (HWA) and Roman Stanek (ART) were sixth and seventh, while Jack Doohan was eighth-fastest overall and topped the afternoon session for Trident. Clement Novalak (Trident) and David Schumacher (Prema) rounded out the top ten.

HWA rookie William Alatalo recorded the most laps of the day with 93, while Novalak had the fewest with 49.

Six drivers set their fastest laps in the afternoon session, all of whom were rookies: Alessandro Famularo (Campos), Amaury Cordeel (MP Motorsport), Jonny Edgar (MP Motorsport), Patrik Pasma (Charouz), Rafael Villagomez (Trident) and Josef Knopp (Charouz).

Overall classification:

Pos. Driver Team Time (best) Laps (total)
1 Matteo Nannini Campos Racing 1:32.170 64
2 Jake Hughes HWA Racelab 1:32.427 62
3 Calan Williams Jenzer Motorsport 1:32.500 60
4 Dennis Hauger Prema Racing 1:32.512 74
5 Victor Martins (R) ART Grand Prix 1:32.527 74
6 Enzo Fittipaldi HWA Racelab 1:32.615 73
7 Roman Stanek ART Grand Prix 1:32.625 77
8 Jack Doohan Trident 1:32.777 57
9 Clement Novalak Trident 1:32.816 49
10 David Schumacher Prema Racing 1:32.948 73
11 Igor Fraga Hitech Grand Prix 1:33.069 70
12 Franco Copalinto (R) MP Motorsport 1:33.085 77
13 Jonathan Hoggard (R) Jenzer Motorsport 1:33.096 54
14 Artur Leclerc (R) Prema Racing 1:33.161 71
15 Jak Crawford (R) Hitech Grand Prix 1:33.286 72
16 Michael Belov Charouz Racing System 1:33.331 50
17 Ben Barnicoat Carlin Buzz Racing 1:33.450 51
18 Oliver Rasmussen (R) Hitech Grand Prix 1:33.492 74
19 Pierre Louis Chovet Campos Racing 1:33.509 64
20 Olli Caldwell ART Grand Prix 1:33.530 72
21 William Alatalo (R) HWA Racelab 1:33.772 93
22 Sophia Floersch Carlin Buzz Racing 1:33.819 61
23 Ido Cohen (R) Carlin Buzz Racing 1:33.838 61
24 Alessandro Famularo (R) Campos Racing 1:33.988 68
25 Amaury Cordeel (R) MP Motorsport 1:34.139 75
26 Jonny Edgar (R) MP Motorsport 1:34.389 71
27 Patrik Pasma (R) Charouz Racing System 1:34.911 64
28 Rafael Villagomez (R) Trident 1:35.062 65
29 Filip Ugran (R) Jenzer Motorsport 1:35.170 56
30 Josef Knopp (R) Charouz Racing System 1:35.758 70

F3 2020 season review

The 2020 FIA Formula 3 season ended with a bang last weekend at Mugello. ART’s Theo Pourchaire came within touching distance of flipping the championship on its head after title contender Logan Sargeant crashed out on the opening lap, but ultimately it was Prema’s Oscar Piastri who came through to be crowned the 2020 drivers’ champion.

With all the prizes now handed out, it’s time to look back on what will go down as a memorable season—not just for the circumstances surrounding it, but for the brilliant racing seen all year long.

Oscar Piastri, Prema (Courtesy of FIA Formula 3 media)

The fight at the top

Obviously, any review of this year’s F3 season has to start with its champion Oscar Piastri and his rivals for the crown.

From his win in the first race of the season, there was little doubt that Piastri would be one of the major players in the title battle right through to the end. Although it took him until the Barcelona sprint race to win again, Piastri’s podiums and strong points finishes kept him in the championship lead right up until round five at Silverstone, when Logan Sargeant’s first F3 win set up a close title fight between the two Premas.

His season wasn’t perfect. Considering he won the title, it’s surprising that Piastri did so with fewer wins than Frederik Vesti or Liam Lawson, and fewer podiums than Theo Pourchaire. More surprisingly, Piastri scored no pole positions at all this year—by comparison, Sargeant took three and qualified ahead of Piastri in almost every round.

All of which must make the final result of the 2020 season tough to swallow for the four drivers above. Despite all outperforming Piastri by one metric or another, the Australian’s consistency meant he was still able to come out on top.

But hopefully, they’ll all come away from the season emboldened by their performances, and the knowledge that the championship could have so easily swung in any of their directions. Pourchaire, Sargeant, Vesti and Lawson would all have been just as deserving a champion as Piastri, and will surely be contenders once again if they stay in F3 next year.

Alex Peroni, Campos (Joe Portlock / Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Who else impressed?

While much of the focus this year was on the battle for the championship, there were still plenty more standout performances from drivers up and down the grid.

Alex Peroni was one such. His 2019 F3 debut didn’t start particularly strongly with only two lower points finishes, but it was his vertebrae fractures sustained at Monza that defined it. But Peroni came back a different driver in 2020, taking his maiden podium in the first round with two more to follow at Silverstone and Barcelona, and scoring all of Campos’ 64 points.

Another impressive podium challenger was ART’s Aleksandr Smolyar. While the Russian was a long way off teammate Pourchaire’s results, he showed serious pace all season with a pole position at the Hungaroring and a win at Silverstone, although the latter was taken away by a post-race penalty.

Smolyar’s results wobbled a little after his lost win, but two fourth places at Spa and a podium he could keep at Monza put him back on track and will hopefully set up an even stronger sophomore year in 2021.

Mention should also be made of Ben Barnicoat, Michael Belov and Pierre-Louis Chovet, who all managed to score points acting as last-minute stand-ins for Carlin, Charouz and Hitech respectively. No easy feat by any means, given the steep learning curve of Formula 3.

Jack Doohan, HWA (Dutch Photo Agency / Red Bull Content Pool)

Who needs to improve?

As for drivers who’ll need to step up their game if they return to F3 next year, the easy answer is the likes of Cameron Das, Sophia Floersch, Lukas Dunner and Alessio Deledda. Each of these stood out for the unfortunate reason that they scored no points all season, while their respective teammates were able to take frequent points and occasional podiums.

Another driver with the same distinction is Jack Doohan, who finished 26th in the championship while his HWA teammate Jake Hughes took two wins and two further podiums to finish 7th. Doohan is one of a trio of Red Bull juniors along with Dennis Hauger and Igor Fraga who will need to find new form next year after being significantly overshadowed by Lawson this year.

And speaking of F1 junior drivers, there’s also Ferrari’s Enzo Fittipaldi. The Brazilian showed some good speed at certain races this year, and particularly found his form at Mugello where he finished fifth and fourth in the two races. But over the whole season Fittipaldi only finished in the points six times in 18 races.

With highly-rated Ferrari juniors like Gianluca Petecof and Arthur Leclerc potentially targeting F3 next year, Fittipaldi will need to flip this ratio around to avoid falling behind them in the FDA pecking order.

While we won’t know for a while who’ll make up Formula 3’s 2021 grid, the talent and potential seen throughout 2020 gives us a lot to look forward to. In the meantime, F3 will be back on track next month for two post-season tests, at Barcelona on October 5th–6th and Jerez on October 27th–28th.

Igor Fraga, Charouz (Dutch Photo Agency / Red Bull Content Pool)