F3 Sochi: Doohan seals Trident teams’ title with contentious feature win

Jack Doohan took his fourth win of the season in the Sochi feature race and helped Trident to snatch the Formula 3 teams’ championship away from Prema, albeit by ignoring team orders in his battle with Clement Novalak.

Doohan and Novalak started alongside each other on the front row, and although Novalak got a quick launch to challenge Doohan into Turn 2, Doohan was able to hold his lead from pole position. Behind them Jonathan Hoggard kept third place while Frederik Vesti dropped from fourth to sixth behind Juan Manuel Correa and Lorenzo Colombo.

Vesti soon took those places back however, repassing Colombo by the end of the first lap and Correa on lap 3. On lap 5 he then caught and passed Hoggard’s Jenzer to bring himself up into the podium positions with just over three seconds separating him from the Tridents out front.

Jonathan Hoggard, Jenzer (Lars Baron, Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images / FIA F3)

Colombo and Correa continued to fall back through the field after those opening laps. Colombo dropped to ninth place after running wide while being passed by Vesti, and was then bumped out of the points altogether by Oliver Rasmussen by the end of lap 1. Meanwhile Correa lost fifth and sixth to Logan Sargeant and Jak Crawford, although he managed to hold seventh by seeing off the new F3 champion Dennis Hauger.

Hauger continued to pressure Correa for seventh, closely pursued himself by Victor Martins. Their battle came to a head on lap 7 as the three of them ran side by side through Turn 7. Correa came out ahead as Martins ran wide, but Hauger was spun around by Rasmussen who tried to take advantage of the melee.

Hauger dropped to the back of the field while Rasmussen and Martins both ended up outside the points. Arthur Leclerc benefited from the incident to sneak through and take seventh from Correa, while Ayumu Iwasa and Alex Smolyar were promoted into the points.

Arthur Leclerc, Prema (Courtesy of Prema Racing)

At the front of the field Doohan and Novalak were separated by just a few tenths of a second as they fought for the lead. Novalak set the pace early on with the fastest lap and ran just two tenths behind Doohan by lap 7. On lap 9 Novalak tried a move around the outside of Turn 2 for the lead, but he ran deep into the corner and was forced to slot back into second.

While Doohan and Novalak battled, Vesti was closing in fast on the pair of them. By lap 10 he’d halved his gap to 1.5 seconds behind the Tridents, while Novalak was being visibly held up by Doohan who was sliding through the hard right-handers.

With Vesti coming up fast behind them and the team needing to protect the win to take the teams’ title, Trident instructed Doohan to let Novalak through as he appeared to be the faster driver. But unsurprisingly with a win on the line Doohan didn’t let his teammate past, even though that allowed Vesti to close to just half a second by lap 15.

Trident were spared some anxiety a lap later when Vesti ran wide and dropped out of DRS range of Novalak. But Doohan also ran wide on the same lap which gave Novalak a run on his teammate down the straight at the start of lap 17. Novalak initially got ahead through Turn 2, but Doohan used the corner to set up the inside line into Turn 3 and retake the lead.

Clement Novalak, Trident (Rudy Carezzevoli, Getty Images / FIA F3)

To make matters worse for Novalak he then lost grip in Doohan’s wake and not only dropped out of DRS range of Doohan, but into Vesti’s clutches. Vesti was just a tenth behind Novalak heading through the middle sector while Novalak was warned about weaving in his defence.

When they got to the DRS straight out of Turn 10 Vesti had little trouble pulling alongside and passing Novalak for second. But despite his earlier speed, Vesti’s brief but close battle with Novalak had given Doohan the opportunity to open up a slight lead with two laps remaining, and he ended up crossing the line with two seconds in hand.

Vesti held onto second while Novalak completed the podium in third, but despite losing the 1–2 Trident were still able to take the teams’ title by six points from Prema. Sargeant completed a quiet race in fourth ahead of Crawford and Hoggard, while Leclerc finished seventh and Martins, Iwasa and Olli Caldwell rounded out the points.

Winning the race meant that Doohan keeps his second place in the championship, while Novalak finishes the season in third place ahead of Vesti and Martins.

Frederik Vesti, ART (Bryn Lennon, Getty Images / FIA F3)

F3 Hungary: Nannini storms to first victory in race two

Matteo Nannini took his maiden Formula 3 victory in the second Hungaroring sprint race, while Dennis Hauger put in another charging drive to increase his championship lead.

Nannini started the race from third on the reverse grid behind Enzo Fittipaldi and Roman Stanek, neither of whom had won before in F3 either. Although Fittipaldi looked to have the lead covered heading into Turn 1, Nannini made a late braking lunge around the outside to jump from third to alongside the Charouz.

Fittipaldi held the position, helped in part by a lockup from Nannini through Turn 3, forcing Nannini to settle back into second ahead of Stanek. The trio led a chaotic opening lap that also saw three cars stalled on the starting grid, and a collision between Oliver Rasmussen and Olli Caldwell that left Caldwell with a broken front wing and well outside the points.

Olli Caldwell, Prema (Courtesy of Prema Racing)

Fittipaldi set an early fastest lap, but Nannini stuck with him. At the start of lap 4, Nannini closed to the back of Fittipaldi under DRS and passed him for the lead around the outside into Turn 1. Fittipaldi tried to fight back through the following corners, but although Nannini locked up at Turn 3 the HWA managed to stay ahead.

Once in front, Nannini put the clear air ahead to good use to open up a 2-second gap by lap 8. As that increased even further to almost three seconds by the halfway stage, Fittipaldi was unable to keep up and instead had Stanek and fourth-placed Alex Smolyar on his tail.

Fittipaldi managed to stabilise by lap 15 and drop Stanek out of DRS range, but by this point Nannini was too far up the road to catch. Nannini crossed the line with a comfortable lead to take the victory, with Fittipaldi and Stanek following him across the line in second and third.

While the podium battle was settled early on, the midfield played host to several close fights in the closing laps. Jack Doohan was running in fifth behind Smolyar for most of the race, but his tyres faded on lap 16 and he was passed by teammate David Schumacher at Turn 3.

David Schumacher, Trident (Bryn Lennon, Getty Images / FIA F3)

Doohan then fell prey to Dennis Hauger two laps later at the outside of Turn 1, before tumbling back through the order. Lorenzo Colombo and Clement Novalak demoted him to ninth at the start of lap 19, which then became eleventh as Logan Sargeant and Ayumu Iwasa found their way past the Trident before the end of the lap.

On the penultimate lap Hauger made up another place by launching around the outside of Schumacher at Turn 1 to take fifth. He even managed to catch up to fourth-placed Smolyar by the end of the lap, although didn’t have enough time to pass the ART before the chequered flag.

Hauger crossed the line fifth behind Smolyar to add another six points to his championship tally. Schumacher was sixth, and Colombo, Novalak, Sargeant and Iwasa rounded out the points.

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.