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.
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.
Joey Alders has been one of the standout feeder series drivers since starting his single seater racing career in 2018.
After a strong debut in ADAC Formula 4, Joey swept the 2019 Asian Formula Renault Series. Driving for BlackArts Racing, he took eight wins, two second places and eleven poles from the championship’s twelve races, and won the title with 314 points.
Joey then moved onto the 2019–20 F3 Asian Championship, which he also dominated with BlackArts Racing, before making his Formula Renault Eurocup debut with MP Motorsport in the summer.
We spoke to Joey about his championship successes, his 2020 season, and his plans for the future.
1. First of all, you had a great start to the year by winning the F3 Asian Championship, after winning the Asian Formula Renault Series title in 2019. Can you describe what it means to win both titles and with such dominant campaigns as well?
Well, I have learned so much in a short period. With my team BlackArts Racing there was a chemistry, dedication, passion and a lot of fun. Even if we won, we worked harder to do better.
I can not describe how much this means to me. I can say it sucks that achievements in Asia are not highly regarded in general by people within the racing community in Europe.
2. Your move to Formula Renault Eurocup this year didn’t quite work out. What were some of the difficulties you had adapting to the Eurocup series and its car, and also what did you enjoy about it?
We had some very good testing days at Paul Ricard. I had never been there and I did enjoy it very much. I was within the top 5, and fastest in the rain most of the time. We did good and I was very grateful to Renault for this opportunity.
The budget is always a struggle for us, we were looking from race to race for support and sponsorship. In the end we went for a team [MP Motorsport] where we had the most chance for Dutch support. But I had never tested with this team.
When we look back, it was a gamble and unfortunately it turned out to be the biggest mistake we could make. It’s hard seeing the team we did test with battling for the podium.
3. You’ve said that your Formula Renault Eurocup season ended early because of budget. This year we’ve seen a lot of young drivers speak out about the rising costs of the feeder series’. Do you think more needs to be done to control the cost of single seater racing?
Well the costs are extreme. With this it’s more important having the budget than driving and getting good results. I don’t think that’s what we want.
4. You said earlier this year that you were targeting a move to Formula 2 for 2021. Can you give us any update on how that’s going? And are you looking at other options, like FIA F3 or Formula Regional?
Getting the budget is a race on its own. We’re still trying hard and I do have a unique concept with a cooperation with TrackSide Legends and Druktemaker. A sponsor gets these marketing companies with all opportunities with us.
I got the support of my team sponsor last year, Oloi, but I am a long way from the total budget. I have to keep my eyes open for other opportunities in single seaters because I am not done and I hope I still get the chance to show myself in Europe.
5. With your racing season having finished in July, how have you been keeping yourself ready and race fit for 2021 since then? Has the pandemic impacted how you would normally train this year?
The pandemic of course didn’t help at all. Finding support just got harder. I haven’t raced since July but the focus was on being physically fit and I did also E-Racing like everybody else.
It’s not ideal but also not a problem. I learn fast and after a few laps I know I will be there. It’s one of the strongest things of me as I have always have been the one with the least track time.
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.
“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.
Prema Racing have announced that Oscar Piastri will step up to Formula 2 with the Italian team next year.
Renault junior Piastri had been set to graduate to F2 after winning the Formula 3 title with Prema earlier this year, beating rivals Theo Pourchaire and Logan Sargeant in the final race at Mugello.
It is expected that Piastri will take the place of Prema’s current driver and F2 championship leader Mick Schumacher, who is widely reported to be joining the Haas F1 team for 2021.
Piastri will also take place in the post-season F2 test in Bahrain next week.
“I’m super excited to be racing with Prema in the FIA Formula 2 championship,” Piastri said. “We had a very successful 2020 season, winning the Formula 3 championship together, and I’m hoping for another successful year with them.
“Prema has proven to be the team to beat once again in F2 this year, so I’m extremely happy to be moving into the championship with them.”
Prema team principal René Rosin said: “We are delighted to welcome Oscar to our FIA Formula 2 team. Having witnessed his progress and success throughout the 2020 season, taking our relationship to the next step for the 2021 FIA Formula 2 Championship felt like the natural thing to do and we look forward to having him on track right from Bahrain.”
Prema has yet to announce whether Schumacher’s current teammate Robert Shwartzman, who sits fourth in the F2 standings with four wins, will remain alongside Piastri for next year.
Formula 2 and Formula 3 have announced that they will run separate calendars in 2021, rather than both running on the same Grand Prix weekend, to cut costs in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Under the new calendar plans, F2 and F3 will run three races across their respective weekends instead of both running two races as they currently do. This change means that F2 can match its 2020 total of 24 races by running at eight F1 events, while F3 will increase to 21 races across seven events.
The changes are being made to cut the logistical costs incurred by teams by reducing the number of different venues travelled to throughout the season.
F2 and F3 CEO Bruno Michel said of the calendar changes: “One of our core values since the launch of the GP2 Series back in 2005 has been cost control. Today, more than ever, it has to be at the heart of our strategy.
“We strongly feel that [the calendar split] has to be done and put in place as quickly as possible to ensure the stability of both championships in the years to come.”
As well as the new schedule, F2 and F3 also announced changes to its technical and sporting regulations also aimed at lowering the costs of the championships.
F2 will not introduce a new chassis for its next three-year regulation cycle beginning in 2021, instead keeping the Dallara F2 2018 until 2023. F3 is also likely to do the same with its current chassis, which was introduced in 2019, when its next three-year cycle begins in 2022.
Furthermore, the costs of engine leases and certain spare parts, as well as logistical and freight costs, will be cut for both championships.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.