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 Zandvoort: Leclerc soaks up pressure from Sargeant to win sprint race

Prema’s Arthur Leclerc took his second Formula 3 victory in the opening sprint race at Zandvoort, despite race-long pressure from a rapid Logan Sargeant behind.

Leclerc started the race in third behind Sargeant and reverse polesitter Amaury Cordeel. At lights out Sargeant jumped past Cordeel for the lead, but Leclerc got an even quicker launch off the line to pass both of them out of Tarzan. Cordeel’s start went from bad to worse as he was passed for third by Ayumu Iwasa, then spun around by Alex Smolyar through Turn 3.

Sargeant stuck close to the back of Leclerc through the opening stint of the race, rarely lapping more than three tenths behind the Prema. As Sargeant pushed Leclerc and Leclerc set early fastest laps to escape him, they started pulling clear of Iwasa, Jak Crawford and Caio Collet behind.

Logan Sargeant, Charouz Racing System (Dan Istitene, Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images / FIA F3)

On lap 5 Sargeant closed to just a tenth behind Leclerc as they crossed the line and looked to the outside heading into Tarzan. Leclerc held Sargeant off on that occasion, but the Charouz driver didn’t lose any time by backing out and kept up the assault.

Two laps later Sargeant pressured Leclerc into a lockup at Tarzan. Losing pace as he managed the flat spots on his tyres, Leclerc found himself leading a DRS train as Iwasa, Crawford, Collet and Jack Doohan all joined the pursuit of the lead. But despite locking up a second time on lap 11, Leclerc was still able to fend off Sargeant’s best efforts at an overtake as he took a better line through Turns 3 and 4 to counter Sargeant’s advantage into Turn 1.

Leclerc was handed another problem to manage on lap 16 when Jonathan Hoggard and Hunter Yeany ended up in the barriers to bring out the safety car and the field was bunched up together. But with Zandvoort’s tight nature making for a particular difficult recovery of the two cars, the stoppage ended up benefiting Leclerc as it left Sargeant with just four laps to rebuild momentum and make a move.

In the end, Leclerc was able to pull away from Sargeant at the restart as the Charouz had to back out of attacking the lead to defend second place from Iwasa. When they crossed the line four laps later Leclerc had more than a second in hand over Sargeant, the largest gap he’d had all race.

Iwasa finished third for his second podium of the season. Crawford took fourth for Hitech, ahead of Collet and Doohan.

L-R: Logan Sargeant, Arthur Leclerc, Ayumu Iwasa (Lars Baron, Getty Images / FIA F3)

Championship leader Dennis Hauger managed seventh place after starting 12th on the grid. The Prema driver made up places at the start to get into ninth between Victor Martins and Clement Novalak, then spent the rest of the race shaping up to improve.

Hauger momentarily lost out when an attempt around the outside of Martins on lap 14 sent him driving through the gravel and behind Novalak. But he managed to recover the position from Novalak at the restart, before claiming seventh from Martins two laps from the flag. Martins finished eighth, while Frederik Vesti and Olli Caldwell demoted Novalak out of the points in the final laps.

F3 Spa preview: can anyone stop Hauger’s runaway title challenge?

After taking several weeks off over the summer break, the 2021 Formula 3 season is back this weekend, with another trio of races around the Circuit Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.

There are only three rounds left to go this season — at Spa, Zandvoort and the Circuit of the Americas — and at this point it’s hard to imagine anyone toppling Prema’s Dennis Hauger from the position of title favourite.

Hauger took his third win of the season in the Hungaroring feature race before the summer break and earned himself a 63-point lead over Trident’s Jack Doohan in the standings. That means that Hauger will leave Spa still at the top of the table, unless he fails to score a single point and Doohan performs a clean sweep of wins, fastest laps and pole position in all three races this weekend.

But although Hauger has become something of a runaway train, the positions behind him in the standings are still in flux. Doohan is second for now on 89 points, but Prema’s Olli Caldwell and ART’s Frederik Vesti are within just nine points of the Trident, with all three drivers having shown great pace throughout the season so far.

Doohan will be one to watch at Spa, as it was there that he recorded one of the best results of his debut season last year. But Vesti also has fond memories of the circuit, having finished on the podium in last year’s sprint race while driving for Prema.

The midpack is as tight as ever

Alex Smolyar (Dan Istitene, Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images / FIA F3)

Behind the top four in the championship, there are two incredibly fierce battles brewing in the final positions of the top ten. The first is between Aleksandr Smolyar (P5), Clement Novalak (P6) and Victor Martins (P7), who are only separated by seven points.

Smolyar arguably should be in the mix with those ahead of him in the standings, given that he’s won two races this year compared to one each for Doohan, Caldwell and Vesti. But despite scoring points in most races — including two fourth places — Smolyar hasn’t stood on the podium since his second win at Paul Ricard in Round 2. That’s something he’ll need to change if he’s going to break away and join what’s realistically the fight to be this year’s vice-champion.

With Novalak and Martins, their goal for the latter half of the season is straightforward: win races. They’re currently the highest-placed drivers in the championship yet to record a victory. In Novalak’s case, he also hasn’t been on the podium since his second-place finish in the opening round in Barcelona — something not helped by being eliminated from strong positions in two of the Red Bull Ring rounds through no fault of his own.

As for Martins, what felt like an inevitable run to a maiden win after three podiums in the opening two rounds has soured recently. Between the second Red Bull Ring race and the summer break, Martins recorded a run of five races well outside the points. Bouncing back from that in a rookie season is hard, but it’s what he’ll need to do to keep up with the drivers around him.

Clement Novalak, Trident (Eric Alonso, Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images / FIA F3)

The second of the two midfield fights involves Arthur Leclerc, Matteo Nannini and Caio Collet, who are on 44, 42 and 41 points respectively. Nannini catapulted himself into that group by taking his first F3 win in the second race at the Hungaroring. Leclerc, who has a win and a second place but only one other points finish so far this year, will surely be looking over his shoulder in case Nannini’s maiden win turns out to be a breakthrough moment.

And while Collet hasn’t quite been the match of his MP Motorsport and Alpine academy teammate Martins, he’s still been able to get great results — including two podiums — out of his car, and should be just as much a threat to Leclerc and Nannini in the remaining races.

New Charouz lineup, and Frederick to miss Spa

Lastly, the grid will look a little different this weekend for a few reasons. The first is that Charouz Racing System has refreshed its lineup. In place of Enzo Fittipaldi and Reshad de Gerus, the team will run 2020 US F4 champion Hunter Yeany and Euroformula Open driver Zdenek Chovanec in the #30 and #31 cars respectively. They’ll join Logan Sargeant for the remainder of the season.

The second change is that Carlin will only field two cars this weekend, as Kaylen Frederick has tested positive for Covid-19 and will therefore not take part in the event. Given the late timing, Carlin will not replace Frederick for the weekend.

F3 Hungary: Hauger prevails over Leclerc in mixed conditions battle

Formula 3 championship leader Dennis Hauger won the Hungary feature race, beating his Prema teammate Arthur Leclerc in a race-long battle in changing conditions.

Leclerc started the race from pole ahead of Hauger. But before either driver had the chance to fight for the lead off the line, the track was drenched by heavy rain and the race was started behind the safety car instead.

When the race got underway with a rolling start, Leclerc got going to stay clear of Hauger into Turn 1. Behind them, third-placed Jack Doohan came under pressure into the first corner from his trident teammate David Schumacher, who tried the move around the outside but didn’t have the grip.

The safety car was back out by the end of the first lap, as Victor Martins found himself in the wall with a broken front wing. When the race resumed on lap 4 Leclerc again went into Turn 1 unchallenged, although Hauger was much closer throughout the lap and was putting the pressure on.

Arthur Leclerc, Prema (Lars Baron, Getty Images / FIA F3)

Further back in the pack, several cars tried to make places as their rivals struggled on the wet track but ended up coming under attack themselves as a result. Clement Novalak in fifth was slow at the restart and gave an opportunity to Alex Smolyar, but when Smolyar couldn’t get the move done he found Frederik Vesti looking up the inside of him instead.

Olli Caldwell tried to take advantage of Vesti’s fight with Smolyar to slip up the inside of the Dane, but had to back out to defend from Ayumu Iwasa behind him. At the start of lap 5, Caldwell then missed his braking for Turn 1, clipping the back of Vesti and dropping to ninth behind Iwasa as a result.

At the front Hauger settled into a rhythm and started setting fastest laps to close to within four tenths of Leclerc by lap 7. With the pressure on, Leclerc then dipped a wheel into the standing water towards the end of the lap and gave Hauger a run down into Turn 1 on the next lap.

Leclerc forced Hauger to the outside where the Norwegian had to back off and slip back in behind. Hauger kept up the attack through the next few corners, but each time Leclerc held the inside line, forcing Hauger to back off from an outside move and dropping him back towards Doohan.

But on lap 9 Leclerc was wide through Turn 1, and this gave Hauger the opportunity he needed to run alongside his teammate and take the lead heading down to Turn 4. Hauger then cemented his pace in the conditions by setting the fastest lap while in front, and starting lap 10 with a 1.5 second lead over Leclerc.

With the track almost dry by the halfway stage, Hauger’s wet tyres started to overheat and Leclerc began coming back at him. Leclerc set the fastest lap on lap 11 to cut the gap to half a second, but Hauger responded on the following lap and opened it back up to a second.

As Hauger and Leclerc traded lap times, Prema told them to be wary of overheating their wet tyres. This brought Doohan into play, who began setting fastest laps and closing the gap to Leclerc to under a second.

Jack Doohan, Trident (Red Bull Content Pool)

But despite the late surge from Doohan, the Premas were able to keep enough tyre life to stay just out of reach. Doohan’s charge was then called off altogether three laps from the end, when Laszlo Toth collided with Ido Cohen at the rear of the field and brought out a safety car to lead the field over the line.

Hauger therefore led home Leclerc and Doohan, who took their second and fourth podium finishes of the year respectively. Doohan’s Trident teammates Schumacher and Novalak followed him in fourth and fifth. Smolyar was sixth ahead of Vesti and Caldwell, and Enzo Fittipaldi and Logan Sargeant rounded out the points for Charouz in ninth and tenth.

Matteo Nannini, who started 13th, was the only driver to chance a stop for slick tyres when the track dried out. But despite being the quickest car on track by almost two seconds and taking the fastest lap, the final safety car coupled with a very slow stop meant Nannini couldn’t capitalise on the gamble, and he finished in 26th.

Hauger’s third win of the year gives him 152 points in the standings and a 63-point lead, meaning he could fail to score in the next round entirely and still hold the championship lead. Doohan’s third place returns him to second in the standings on 89 points, three points ahead of Olli Caldwell in third.

F3 returns after the summer break on 28th and 29th August at Spa-Francorchamps in support of the Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix.

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 Hungary: Iwasa inherits race one win after Colombo penalised

Hitech’s Ayumu Iwasa has inherited the victory in the opening Hungaroring sprint race, after original winner Lorenzo Colombo was handed a post-race penalty.

Colombo was penalised for dropping more than ten car lengths behind the safety car late in the race. Drivers are only allowed to do so after the safety car has turned out its lights prior to the restart. Colombo was handed a five-second time penalty for the infringement, which drops him from first and seventh.

Iwasa therefore inherits the win, with Olli Caldwell moving up to second place and Logan Sargeant taking his first podium of the year in third. Clement Novalak is now fourth, Dennis Hauger fifth, and Alex Smolyar sixth. David Schumacher, Jack Doohan and Matteo Nannini remain eighth, ninth and tenth behind Colombo.

F3 Hungary: Colombo and Campos take emotional maiden win in first sprint race

Lorenzo Colombo scored his and Campos Racing’s first Formula 3 win in the opening Hungaroring sprint race, beating the Red Bull juniors of Jonny Edgar and Ayumu Iwasa.

Colombo started the race from second on the grid behind reverse polesitter Edgar. The Italian looked to the inside of Edgar at Turn 1, but had to slip back to hold second as Iwasa tried to take them both around the outside.

The top three ran in single file in the first few laps, and quickly broke the DRS gap back to Olli Caldwell in third. But despite Edgar, Colombo and Iwasa being separated by just a second in total, neither was able to make any move to change the order.

Jonny Edgar, Carlin (GEPA pictures, Manfred Binder / Red Bull Content Pool)

That changed soon after though, as Colombo started putting in a sequence of good laps to close up more on Edgar. At the beginning of lap 8 Colombo drew alongside Edgar under DRS on the start/finish straight and swept around the outside at Turn 1 to take the lead.

But as Colombo settled in front of Edgar, the Carlin started slowing with a mechanical problem and dropping down the order. As Edgar fell out of the points and eventually pulled over to retire, Iwasa inherited second and Caldwell third.

Iwasa wasn’t able to pressure Colombo for the lead though, as he himself had to defend second from Caldwell. Just two laps after taking first place, Colombo had already opened up a second gap over Iwasa to protect from the DRS threat.

Colombo’s drive to victory was briefly worried on lap 16, when Frederik Vesti came to a halt by the track and brought out a safety car. But at the restart on lap 19, Colombo went early through the final corner and caught Iwasa off guard, and restored his one second gap within two laps.

Ayumu Iwasa, Hitech (Red Bull Content Pool)

Colombo eventually crossed the line with a 1.5 second lead, and dedicated his win to team founder Adrian Campos, who passed away in January this year. Iwasa scored his first F3 podium in second, while Caldwell finished in third and moves up to second place in the championship.

Logan Sargeant finished fourth for Charouz ahead of Clement Novalak. Championship leader Dennis Hauger took sixth place from eleventh on the grid, having made up places at the safety car restart. Alex Smolyar, David Schumacher, Jack Doohan and Matteo Nannini rounded out the points, and Enzo Fittipaldi finished twelfth to take pole for race 2.

F3 Austria: Vesti triumphs over Hauger in action-packed feature race

Mercedes junior Frederik Vesti took his first win of the 2021 Formula 3 season in the Red Bull Ring feature race, beating polesitter Dennis Hauger in a race-long fight.

Starting from second on the grid, Vesti launched an immediate challenge on Hauger on the opening lap. Hauger had to go defensive as early as the first corner, and on the run down to Turn 4 he was forced to cover off the inside as Vesti pulled alongside him under slipstream.

Dennis Hauger, Prema (Bryn Lennon, Getty Images / FIA F3)

Hauger set an early fastest lap but was unable to pull away from Vesti over the first phase of the race. Vesti started lap four just a few tenths behind the Prema and again attacked Hauger around the outside of Turns 3 and 4, but was again rebuffed.

But on the following lap Vesti was close enough to pull alongside Hauger under DRS down to Turn 4 and take the lead. The move then left Hauger vulnerable to Vesti’s ART teammate Alex Smolyar, who followed Hauger closely before taking second place on lap 7.

Over the short lap Vesti faced the same difficulty in pulling away as Hauger did, and he found himself having to defend from Smolyar as well. After an unsuccessful move at Turn 3 on lap 10, Smolyar came back at Vesti under DRS on the following lap to take the lead. But the Russian’s time at the front only last one corner, as Vesti fought back up the inside of Turn 4, with Hauger following him through to retake second place as well.

Vesti wasn’t able to drop Hauger over the remaining laps, despite moving eight tenths clear at one point, but neither was Hauger able to make any serious attempts at retaking the lead. Meanwhile, Smolyar dropped back after losing the lead and came under attack from the #3 Prema of Olli Caldwell.

Alex Smolyar, ART (Clive Mason, Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images / Courtesy of FIA F3)

Smolyar managed to hold off Caldwell for a while, including multiple moves at the Turn 3 overtaking spot. But with four laps to go, Caldwell finally managed to get past Smolyar at Turn 4 to take his third podium of the year and second of the weekend.

Behind the podium fight, there was another fierce battle throughout the top ten as a DRS train covered the points positions. Clement Novalak was at the head of that group in fourth for much of the race, defending from the likes of Jak Crawford, Jack Doohan and Victor Martins, while Caldwell and the #2 Prema of Arthur Leclerc came up the order behind them.

On lap 9 Caldwell and Leclerc had finally made their way to the front of the train, and Caldwell slipped past Novalak at Turn 3 to take fourth place. Leclerc tried several times to pass Novalak for fifth but was fended off, which left him in turn defending from Martins in sixth.

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

On lap 14 Martins got a run on Leclerc through Turn 1 to take sixth, but Leclerc came back at him on the straight down to Turn 4. As they fought, Leclerc lost his front wing as he tagged the back of Martins then ran onto the grass and lost control.

After first clouting the wall and breaking his front right suspension, Leclerc shot across the braking zone of Turn 4 and collected Novalak. Both retired in the gravel trap, while Martins dropped to the back with a puncture and the safety car was deployed.

Crawford inherited fifth place ahead of Doohan, but they also came together on lap 22 and promoted Matteo Nannini to fifth ahead of Ayumu Iwasa and Caio Collet. Logan Sargeant, Calan Williams and Jonny Edgar rounded out the top ten by the chequered flag.

Caio Collet, MP Motorsport (Alexander Scheuber, Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images / Courtesy of FIA F3)

With podiums in each race this weekend, Hauger leaves the Red Bull Ring with 115 points and a substantial championship advantage. As Hauger’s main rivals Doohan and Martins both failed to score in the feature race, Vesti now moves up to second in the standings, albeit 41 points behind Hauger and just two ahead of Doohan.

Formula 3 returns in four weeks’ time in support of the Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest.

F3 Austria: Schumacher takes dominant maiden win in second sprint race

Trident’s David Schumacher claimed his first Formula 3 victory, winning the second Red Bull Ring sprint race from reverse pole position.

Schumacher got away well from reverse grid pole, while Roman Stanek filed into second and Jak Crawford jumped Kaylen Frederick and Juan Manuel Correa for third. But as the drivers continued to establish their positions, the race was brought to an early halt as Logan Sargeant and Tijmen Van Der Helm crashed at the start of lap 2 and brought out the safety car.

At the restart Schumacher bolted clear to build an early lead, while Stanek and Crawford battled for second place. As Stanek dropped out of DRS range of Schumacher, Crawford tried a move on lap 8 around the outside of Turn 3 but found himself run out of road.

Jak Crawford, Hitech (Clive Mason, Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images / Courtesy of FIA F3)

After trying another pass at Turn 4, Crawford eventually got past Stanek on lap 9 and set off after Schumacher. But just one lap later, Crawford pulled off the track with a loss of drive, promoting Correa to the podium.

Correa’s time in the top three didn’t last much longer, however. On lap 11 he found himself the innocent victim as Frederick in fourth missed his braking point while defending from Frederik Vesti, and ended up spinning himself and Correa around at Turn 3. As Vesti avoided the incident, Victor Martins benefited to move up to third ahead of Jonny Edgar in fourth.

The incidents behind Stanek didn’t relieve the pressure on the Czech driver, as he found himself having to defend second from Martins almost immediately. Martins tried three moves around the outside of Stanek at Turn 4, but after being rebuffed he dummied to the inside of the corner on lap 15 and finally demoted the Hitech to third.

Once behind Martins, Stanek then came up attack from Vesti, who tried to repeat Martins’ Turn 4 overtake on lap 16. Stanek held off the ART on that occasion, but Vesti came back on lap 18 to take the position under DRS on the run down to Turn 4.

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

Martins and Vesti then began closing in on the leading Schumacher, eating into his four-second lead as the Trident’s tyres started to fall away. But on lap 23, Martins also fell out of contention as he lost power in the same manner as Crawford, promoting Vesti to second with two laps remaining.

With a virtual safety car deployed to recover Martins’ car, Schumacher was able to drive through his tyre struggles and keep the lead from Vesti.

Stanek wasn’t able to benefit from Martins’ retirement to get back on the podium as he was passed by Dennis Hauger on lap 21. The championship leader had driven a recovery race after falling to 14th place at the start, but a series of early overtakes as well as the retirements ahead of him allowed Hauger to complete the podium in third.

Stanek finished fourth ahead of Edgar, and Arthur Leclerc took sixth place and the fastest lap. Jack Doohan was seventh, and Enzo Fittipaldi, Olli Caldwell and Jonathan Hoggard completed the points.

F3 Austria: Hauger wins chaotic sprint race after leaders collide

Prema’s Dennis Hauger won the opening sprint race at the Red Bull Ring from 12th on the grid, taking the lead late on after Clement Novalak and Matteo Nannini collided at the front.

Nannini snatched first place at the start of the race, beating reverse polesitter Logan Sargeant into Turn 1, while Novalak jumped from seventh to third off the line. Behind them, Hauger got himself up into the points in seventh between Jack Doohan and Arthur Leclerc.

The race was stable through the opening laps as most of the cars were running in a DRS train and unable to close up any of the gaps. But on lap 9 things kicked off as Sargeant came back at Nannini to retake the lead through Turn 4.

Logan Sargeant, Charouz Racing System (Dan Istitene, Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images / FIA F3)

That triggered a frantic couple of laps as Sargeant, Nannini and Novalak traded the lead between themselves multiple times. Nannini looked to come out on top at last as he took first on lap 13 and fended off Sargeant for the following laps.

But on lap 16 the battle sparked off again as Sargeant came back and retook the lead. Nannini repassed him on the following lap, but both were passed by Novalak on lap 19.

After Novalak took the lead, Sargeant started to drop back from the battle at the front and was dropped to fifth by Hauger and Olli Caldwell. That put the Premas in the perfect position to benefit when Novalak and Nannini made contact through Turn 3, which sent Novalak into the gravel with suspension damage and dropped Nannini down to eighth.

Hauger took the lead with just over three laps remaining, from Caldwell in second and Sargeant who had been restored to the podium. When Hauger crossed the line he also had the fastest lap to his name, to take the maximum 17 points away from the opening race.

Olli Caldwell, Prema (Clive Rose, Getty Images / FIA F3)

Hauger’s closest championship challenger Victor Martins initially finished fourth, leading home Jak Crawford, Caio Collet, Doohan and Nannini. But after the race a raft of drivers were penalised, most of them for consistently abusing track limits, which drastically altered the top ten.

Sargeant was the biggest casualty as he was handed a five-second penalty for four track limits abuses, which dropped him off the podium. But in total, eleven drivers were penalised including a disqualification for Ayumu Iwasa for failing to comply with a black and white flag.

The penalties eventually brought Charouz’s Enzo Fittipaldi up to fourth ahead of a penalised Martins, and Jonny Edgar rose from 12th to fifth. Frederik Vesti was seventh, and Crawford, Kaylen Frederik and Juan Manuel Correa rounded out the points. Trident’s David Schumacher was elevated to reverse grid pole, and Sargeant ended up 15th.