F3 Spa: Doohan holds off charging Martins for second Spa win

Jack Doohan took his second victory of the weekend in the Spa feature race, fending off a race-long challenge from Victor Martins to make a crucial dent in Dennis Hauger’s championship lead.

Doohan started the race from pole, but was spared from defending the lead into La Source as the race began behind the safety car because of the wet conditions. When the race got going with 14 laps on the board, Doohan bolted early out of the final chicane but Martins went with him to look at the outside into La Source.

Martins was too far back to convert that into an overtake attempt, but he stayed glued to the back of Doohan throughout the opening laps. After setting several fastest laps and running within half a second of Doohan, Martins saw his chance on lap 5 coming into Pouhon. Pulling to the outside of Doohan, Martins managed to come out of the corner in the lead, but not without running all four wheels over the limit of the track while setting up the move.

Victor Martins, MP Motorsport (Joe Portlock, Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images / FIA F3)

After beginning to pull a gap over Doohan, Martins was instructed over the radio to hand the position back to avoid a penalty. He did on the following lap, but in doing so Martins dropped to more than a second behind Doohan.

Doohan then set the fastest lap when back in the lead, but Martins responded almost immediately to slash the gap back to half a second by lap 7. As they went through Rivage Martins almost nudged the back of Doohan but still couldn’t find a way past the Trident. All the while, Doohan and Martins had pulled more than five seconds clear of the rest of the field, led by Alex Smolyar in third.

As the race ticked over the halfway stage and the track began to dry, Martins’ wet tyres started to overheat and Doohan was able to start building up a gap over the MP Motorsport driver. By lap 9 Doohan was almost a second ahead, before a wide moment for Martins on lap 11 solidified Doohan’s lead over the closing laps.

Doohan took the win with just under two seconds in hand over Martins, who at least managed to reclaim the fastest lap points from Doohan before the end. Smolyar completed the podium in third, albeit 10 seconds back from the top two.

Alex Smolyar, ART (Lars Baron, Getty Images / FIA F3)

Caio Collet narrowly missed out on another podium as he came home fourth and just a second behind Smolyar, while Clement Novalak finished fifth ahead of Frederik Vesti and Logan Sargeant. Championship leader Hauger battled his way up to eighth place from 14th on the grid to take four points, and David Schumacher and Arthur Leclerc rounded out the top ten.

Doohan’s two wins this weekend means he’s now closed Hauger’s lead at the top of the standings from 63 points to 25. Vesti and Martins move up to third and fourth in the standings, displacing Olli Caldwell who was outside the points in all three races at Spa.

Formula 3 returns next weekend at Zandvoort in support of the Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix.

Belgian GP: Verstappen takes pole ahead of Russell as Norris crashes at Eau Rouge

Max Verstappen has taken pole for tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix ahead of Williams’s George Russell, who put in a great performance in challenging conditions. Lando Norris crashed at Eau Rouge in the early stages of Q3, raising even more questions about the barriers at that corner.

The beginning of Q1 was initially delayed for 12 minutes because of heavy rain, but when it began both Russell and Nicholas Latifi headed out on track as the sole cars on intermediates. It was a decision that every other driver soon followed when the rain eased, as the times began to tumble.

Intermediates were the tyres of choice for Q2 as well. Both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas left it late to get a good lap in, being brought in for new sets and only moving out of the drop-zone in the closing moments.

The rain came down heavier for the start of Q3.

Sebastian Vettel was one of the first drivers to head out, and he almost immediately radioed his engineer saying he thought the session should be red-flagged because of how bad the conditions were.

It was indeed red-flagged a couple of minutes later, but only after Lando Norris crashed heavily at the Eau Rouge/Radillion complex. Vettel pulled up alongside the McLaren to check that Norris was okay, voicing some very angry comments over the radio. “What did I say?” he demanded.

At the time of writing, Norris has been taken for a precautionary x-ray on his elbow, but he managed to get out of the car on his own at least.

Following as his crash does from the six-car pile-up during W Series qualifying yesterday at the same corner, there is certainly a debate to be had over the barriers at Eau Rouge. Norris was sent spinning back across the track, and it was only good fortune that meant no-body was following close behind and put in danger of collecting him.

After a half an hour-long delay Q3 restarted.

Hamilton took provisional pole after the first runs, only to be bested by George Russell. It looked for a moment as if the Williams would actually take pole, only for Verstappen to cross the line and go fastest of all by three tenths.

More of the same can be expected for the race tomorrow in terms of weather, and we are certainly in for an interesting 44 laps!

F3 Spa: Colombo powers to rain-interrupted sprint win

Lorenzo Colombo took his first Formula 3 win at Spa, making up for the win he was disqualified from in Hungary, by dominating the field in the rain-drenched first sprint race.

Owing to the torrential rain throughout the morning, the race started almost an hour late and ran three laps behind the safety car before lights out.

When the race did get underway on lap 4, Colombo’s Campos led away from Hitech’s Jak Crawford and Roman Stanek. Jonathan Hoggard in fourth put a challenge to the inside of Stanek at La Source, but Stanek held on around the outside to keep third place.

On the first racing lap, the only change in positions came from MP Motorsport’s Caio Collet and Victor Martins, who moved up past Logan Sargeant for eighth and ninth respectively. On lap 5, Collet then made up another place by passing Clement Novalak for seventh at Les Combes.

Victor Martins, MP Motorsport (Joe Portlock, Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images / FIA F3)

At the front of the field, Colombo made use of the clear visibility ahead of him to open up a four-second lead over Crawford by the end of lap five. Crawford himself had several seconds in hand over teammate Stanek, but Stanek was unable to drop the challenge of Hoggard who was staying consistently half a second behind the Hitech.

Hoggard’s pursuit of Stanek had opened up a gap between him and the Trident of David Schumacher in fifth behind. By the halfway stage, Schumacher was leading a train of cars including Frederik Vesti, Collet, Novalak and Martins.

On lap 9 Collet tried an audacious move around the outside of Vesti into La Source, but couldn’t get the traction on the wetter part of the circuit and Vesti retook sixth on the exit of the hairpin. At the same time, Collet’s teammate Martins managed to complete a move past Novalak for eighth coming into La Source.

Once past Novalak, Martins put in a new fastest lap time and started putting pressure on Collet ahead of him. Meanwhile, the train caught up with Hoggard who made a pair of costly mistakes on lap 10 and dropped away from the back of Stanek.

On lap 13 Schumacher took advantage of Hoggard running wide out of La Source to pull alongside the Jenzer. But as the two fought down the Kemmel Straight, Vesti and Collet entered the battle as well and Collet emerged from the spray in front of Vesti and Hoggard, albeit after taking to the runoff to avoid collecting the cars ahead of him.

Collet was then handed a five-second time penalty for completing the move off the track, but not before he’d been passed by Vesti on track for fourth place. Hoggard meanwhile fell back to seventh after being passed by Martins, while Schumacher came out of the fight worst as he tumbled back down the order to ninth behind Novalak.

Clement Novalak, Trident (Dan Mullan, Getty Images / FIA F3)

Entering into the final laps, Colombo out front retook the fastest lap title from Martins and continued to sprint away from the field. By the time he took the chequered flag, Colombo was more than 12 seconds clear of Crawford, who took second place by two seconds from Stanek.

Vesti finished fourth, while Collet’s penalty promoted Martins to fifth ahead of Hoggard, Novalak and Sargeant. Collet slotted into ninth position ahead of Alex Smolyar, who dropped Schumacher to P11 and outside of the points on the penultimate lap. Jack Doohan finished in P12 and will start this afternoon’s race from reverse grid pole.

W Series Spa preview: Summer is over and the fight is on!

The summer break is over, and W Series is back for Round 5 at the famous Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. The longest circuit on the calendar, the 18 drivers are ready to compete at a track well known for its blind, high speed corners and changeable weather conditions. This will test the talent on display in the all-female series.

Eight drivers on the grid have previously raced at the circuit including Jamie Chadwick, Alice Powell, Abbie Eaton, Sarah Moore, Vicky Piria, Beitske Visser, Fabienne Wohlwend and Caitlin Wood. Caitlin will be stepping up for a second time as reserve driver this season with the PUMA W Series team after a solid performance in Hungry.

Who’s going to be on top?

Coming into the second half of the season there is a really close battle for the championship with only one point separating Chadwick and Powell, and Nerea Marti 35 points back in third.

Chadwick and Powell have been exchanging wins all season, and with 2 wins each the difference is due to Chadwick’s third-place finish at Silverstone. Consistency in a championship like this is always key to success, but that seems to be common practice for these two so a fight to the end looks on the cards to see who will come out victorious. Just one mistake or no points finish could be pivotal in the championship battle.

The fight for third

Just three points cover the drivers in third to seventh, and with good performances from each driver in these positions, the fight to third is looking very interesting.

Marti put in a great performance as a rookie to stick to the top two of Chadwick and Powell last time out in Hungry, finishing in third and putting herself ahead of Sarah Moore by one point.

Moore herself has had a strong start to the season with a podium in the first two rounds, but only managed P7 at Silverstone and didn’t score points in Hungry. She will be looking for a fight back and to hang on to her one-point lead over Emma Kimilainen.

Kimilainen has had a solid start with a podium and points finishes in three of the four rounds so far and therefore is currently fifth in the standings, only one point ahead of Fabienne Wohlwend and Irina Sidorkova who are tied on points.

Wohlwend has had a very up and down first half of the season, getting two podium finishes but then finishing P10 in Round 2 and suffering a DNF in Round 4. In comparison Sidorkova has only been on the podium once but has had higher points finishes with P8 in Round 1 and P4 in Round 4, missing out on points in Round 3.

This battle for third in the championship looks to go right to the end of the season and could be anyone of the five already in contention. However, Beitske Visser and Belen Garcia, in eighth and ninth respectively, are not too far behind and could really come into play if they can put in some great performances over the last four races.

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.

F2 Spa: Shwartzman wins after Ticktum and Nissany collide

Robert Shwartzman led home a Prema 1-2 in the Spa sprint race, assuming the lead after Roy Nissany and Dan Ticktum collided ahead of him.

Starting from fourth on the reverse grid, Shwartzman jumped to third immediately as Guanyu Zhou was slow off the line. Meanwhile Ticktum got a much better start from second than polesitter Nissany and took the lead into the first corner.

Ticktum and Nissany continued fighting through the opening sequence of corners with Nissany managing to get back ahead of the DAMS. But while they fought at the front, there was drama further down the pack as title contender Callum Ilott was hit from behind by Yuki Tsunoda and spun out of the race.

The safety car was deployed to recover Ilott’s car. At the restart on lap 4 Ticktum stuck close to the back of Nissany to harry the Trident through Eau Rouge and down the Kemmel Straight. Ticktum then went to the outside going into Les Combes and ran wide as Nissany held the corner, but didn’t back out and the two collided as Ticktum bounced off the kerb and back onto the track.

Clive Mason / Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Nissany was spun into the wall and retired immediately. Ticktum was able to continue albeit with a damaged car, but dropped to second as Shwartzman came through the collision to assume first before the safety car was redeployed.

When the race resumed again on lap 7, the damage to Ticktum’s car became clear as Shwartzman immediately pulled out a 2.8s gap over him. But despite a train forming behind the struggling DAMS, Ticktum was able to defend second place for several laps.

Louis Deletraz initially took the position at the restart but Ticktum repassed him on lap 8. This turned out worse for Deletraz, as he was then passed by Schumacher and Zhou on the same lap and dropped to fifth.

However, Ticktum was unable to keep defending when Schumacher caught him on lap 12. Zhou also got past the DAMS on the following lap, and from there Ticktum started to fall back through the top eight.

Guanyu Zhou, UNI-Virtuosi (Clive Mason / Formula 1 via Getty Images)

The train caused by Ticktum’s damaged car meant that Shwartzman was able to run away in first place and reach the chequered flag unchallenged. The Russian managed to build a nine-second gap over the rest of the field by lap 14, and kept this gap over the remaining five laps to take a dominant win.

Schumacher and Zhou completed the podium in second and third, with Hitech’s Nikita Mazepin and Luca Ghiotto finishing in formation behind them. Deletraz eventually finished in sixth ahead of Christian Lundgaard. Artem Markelov took the final point in eighth, after a penalty awarded to Tsunoda for hitting Ilott dropped the Carlin out of the points into ninth. Ticktum eventually finished tenth after his late struggles, just ahead of teammate Juri Vips.

Shwartzman’s win and Ilott’s retirement means Shwartzman has retaken the lead of the championship with 132 points to Ilott’s 122. Tsunoda is 11 points back in third, although Schumacher’s sixth podium of the year has moved him to within five points of the Japanese driver.

In the teams’ standings, Prema now has a 24-point lead over UNI-Virtuosi, while third-placed Hitech is 62 points behind.

FIA Formula 2 returns next weekend at Monza, in support of the Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix.

Full race result:

Pos. Driver Team Points
1 Robert Shwartzman (FL) Prema Racing 17
2 Mick Schumacher Prema Racing 12
3 Guanyu Zhou UNI-Virtuosi Racing 10
4 Nikita Mazepin Hitech Grand Prix 8
5 Luca Ghiotto Hitech Grand Prix 6
6 Louis Deletraz Charouz Racing System 4
7 Christian Lundgaard ART Grand Prix 2
8 Artem Markelov BWT HWA Racelab 1
9 Yuki Tsunoda Carlin
10 Dan Ticktum DAMS
11 Juri Vips DAMS
12 Pedro Piquet Charouz Racing System
13 Felipe Drugovich MP Motorsport
14 Giuliano Alesi BWT HWA Racelab
15 Guilherme Samaia Campos Racing
16 Jehan Daruvala Carlin
17 Jack Aitken Campos Racing
Ret. Marino Sato Trident
Ret. Marcus Armstrong ART Grand Prix
Ret. Roy Nissany Trident
Ret. Callum Ilott UNI-Virtuosi
DNS Nobuharu Matsushita MP Motorsport

F3 Spa: Sargeant bounces back with sprint race win

Title contender Logan Sargeant bounced back after engine problems in yesterday’s feature race to take victory in the Formula 3 sprint race at Spa.

Reverse grid polesitter Richard Verschoor held the lead into the first corner, while Sargeant rose to second ahead of Olli Caldwell due to Liam Lawson having a slow start and dropping back to fifth.

But despite getting off the line well, Verschoor was unable to drop Sargeant in the opening laps as he struggled again with straight line speed for his MP Motorsport car. Sargeant stayed within a few tenths of Verschoor until lap 3, when he made the move for first and took the lead of the race.

Meanwhile, Sargeant’s teammate Frederik Vesti was moving up through the order from fifth on the grid. After taking third from Caldwell while Sargeant was passing Verschoor, Vesti then overtook Verschoor himself for second on lap 4.

Clive Mason / Formula 1 via Getty Images)

The race was neutralised shortly after when Hitech’s Pierre-Louis Chovet went into the barriers and brought out the virtual safety car for two laps. When the caution was withdrawn on lap 6, Verschoor continued to fall down the order. The Dutchman lost third to Theo Pourchaire on lap 9, then dropped behind Lawson, Aleksandr Smolyar and Oscar Piastri in quick succession.

Meanwhile, Vesti was making strong progress to catch Sargeant. After being 2.1 seconds behind his teammate after the virtual safety car restart, Vesti cut the gap down to four tenths by lap 14 as Sargeant complained of fading tyres on the radio.

However, Sargeant was able to regroup in the final few laps and opened the gap back up to a second. Vesti made one final charge on the final lap, but couldn’t close up enough to make a move for the lead and finished runner-up across the line.

Lawson recovered from his poor start to finish third behind the Premas. After passing Verschoor for fourth, the Hitech driver put significant pressure on Pourchaire who was struggling with his tyres, and took third away on lap 12.

Theo Pourchaire, ART (Dan Istitene / Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Pourchaire lost another place to his ART teammate Aleksandr Smolyar, who finished fourth for the second race in succession. On lap 15 Pourchaire was also passed for fifth by Oscar Piastri, who was charging forward from his own slow start to minimise the damage done by Sargeant’s win.

But just after moving into fifth, Piastri was given a five second time penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage when passing Pourchaire, dropping him to sixth behind the Frenchman in the final order.

Verschoor stabilised in seventh place by the chequered flag, finishing ahead of yesterday’s race winner Lirim Zendelli. His Trident teammate Caldwell had been running eighth, but fell out of the points after colliding with Alex Peroni. David Beckmann took ninth, and Sebastian Fernandez benefitted from the collision ahead to finish tenth.

After taking 17 points for victory and the fastest lap, Sargeant returns to the top of the drivers’ standings by seven points from Piastri, while Beckmann stays third ahead of Lawson by just half a point. Find the full F3 drivers’ and teams’ standings here.

FIA Formula 3 returns next week at Monza for the penultimate round of the season.

Full race result:

Pos. Driver Team Points
1 Logan Sargeant (FL) Prema Racing 17
2 Frederik Vesti Prema Racing 12
3 Liam Lawson Hitech Grand Prix 10
4 Aleksandr Smolyar ART Grand Prix 8
5 Theo Pourchaire ART Grand Prix 6
6 Oscar Piastri Prema Racing 5
7 Richard Verschoor MP Motorsport 4
8 Lirim Zendelli Trident 3
9 David Beckmann Trident 2
10 Sebastian Fernandez ART Grand Prix 1
11 Olli Caldwell Trident
12 Enzo Fittipaldi HWA Racelab
13 Lukas Dunner MP Motorsport
14 David Schumacher Carlin Buzz Racing
15 Clement Novalak Carlin Buzz Racing
16 Bent Viscaal MP Motorsport
17 Jake Hughes HWA Racelab
18 Dennis Hauger Hitech Grand Prix
19 Roman Stanek Charouz Racing System
20 Federico Malvestiti Jenzer Motorsport
21 Andreas Estner Campos Racing
22 Alex Peroni Campos Racing
23 Cameron Das Carlin Buzz Racing
24 Alessio Deledda Campos Racing
25 Calan Williams Jenzer Motorsport
26 Matteo Nannini Jenzer Motorsport
27 Igor Fraga Charouz Racing System
Ret. Michael Belov Charouz Racing System
Ret. Pierre-Louis Chovet Hitech Grand Prix
Ret. Jack Doohan HWA Racelab

F2 Spa: Tsunoda wins feature race after Mazepin penalty

Red Bull junior Yuki Tsunoda took victory in the Spa feature race after on-track winner Nikita Mazepin was penalised for forcing Tsunoda off track.

Tsunoda got a near-perfect launch from pole position to head off the pack into the first corner, while Nobuharu Matsushita jumped Mazepin for second. Behind them, Mick Schumacher got a good start from seventh on the grid to jump up to fourth, while title protagonist Robert Shwartzman dropped from fourth down into the pack.

At the end of the first lap Tsunoda had already opened up a second over Matsushita, as Mazepin closed back in on the MP Motorsport to retake second. Mazepin took the position back on lap 3 while setting the fastest lap of the race, by which point Tsunoda had pulled almost three seconds clear of the pair.

After losing second to Mazepin, Matsushita then started to drop back through the field. Schumacher demoted him to third at the end of lap 3, then on the following lap Matsushita was passed by Louis Deletraz, Shwartzman and Guanyu Zhou.

At Blanchimont Matsushita was set to lose another position as teammate Felipe Drugovich drew level around the outside. But the two made contact instead, breaking Drugovich’s front wing and sending Matsushita into the wall with a puncture, resulting in the virtual safety car being deployed.

Nobuharu Matsushita, MP Motorsport (Lars Baron / Getty Images)

The virtual safety car was withdrawn on lap 6, with Mazepin being quicker than Tsunoda on the restart to gain six tenths on the Carlin. Tsunoda responded over the following laps as Mazepin’s soft tyres started to fade, and the gap returned to over two seconds by the time Mazepin made his pit stop on lap 9.

Tsunoda stayed out a lap longer than Mazepin, but when he came into the pits his own stop was slow and he rejoined the track behind the Russian in 14th place. However, race control then announced Mazepin was under investigation for an unsafe release, as he came close to hitting several of Trident’s pit crew on leaving his box.

With the Mazepin incident to be decided after the race, Tsunoda stuck close to the back of the Hitech as they made their progress through the alternative strategy runners ahead of them. By lap 16 they were back up to the front of the field with a second between them, which Tsunoda then reduced to half a second by lap 19.

Over the next few laps Tsunoda made two moves for the lead around the outside going into Turn 5, but Mazepin headed both off and Tsunoda ran wide as he bailed out. On the penultimate lap Tsunoda tried the move a third time and once again ran wide as Mazepin defended the position. Unable to get close enough to try another pass, Tsunoda ended up crossing the line in second behind Mazepin.

However, shortly after the chequered flag Mazepin was given a five-second time penalty for forcing Tsunoda off track at Turn 5, reversing their positions and giving Tsunoda his second win of the season.

Nikita Mazepin, Hitech (Rudy Carezzevoli / Getty Images)

Schumacher completed the podium in third, the German having a relatively quiet race with five seconds separating him from fourth-placed Deletraz. Shwartzman managed to recover to fifth after his poor first lap, and Dan Ticktum finished sixth for DAMS as the highest alternate strategy driver.

Zhou briefly led the race on the same strategy as Ticktum, but the Chinese driver stayed out later than anyone and wasn’t able to make the places back after his stop, coming home in seventh.

Roy Nissany also ran the alternate strategy and was second behind Zhou for a while, but was likewise unable to carve back through the field on the soft tyres later. However he did manage to pass Luca Ghiotto and Callum Ilott to take reverse grid pole for tomorrow. Ghiotto and Ilott took the final points positions, just keeping DAMS stand-in Juri Vips out of the top ten on his F2 debut.

Post-race penalties:

Mazepin has been given a five-place grid drop for the Monza feature race for “potentially dangerous and unsportsmanlike conduct”, after the stewards judged him to have entered parc-ferme too fast.

Hitech were reprimanded for Mazepin’s pit stop, which was investigated as an unsafe release, while Trident have been fined for their mechanics standing too far forward in the pitlane and thus being in Mazepin’s path.

Matsushita has been given a three-place grid drop for the sprint race for causing his collision with Drugovich on lap 3. Drugovich himself, who finished in P20, was disqualified for making his mandatory pit stop on the final lap, which is a breach of the sporting regulations.

Finally, Marcus Armstrong was given a five-second penalty for overtaking Jack Aitken off-track and drops from P13 to P15.

Full race result:

Pos. Driver Team Points
1 Yuki Tsunoda Carlin 25
2 Nikita Mazepin Hitech Grand Prix 18
3 Mick Schumacher Prema Racing 15
4 Louis Deletraz Charouz Racing System 12
5 Robert Shwartzman (FL) Prema Racing 12
6 Dan Ticktum DAMS 8
7 Guanyu Zhou UNI-Virtuosi Racing 6
8 Roy Nissany Trident 4
9 Luca Ghiotto Hitech Grand Prix 2
10 Callum Ilott UNI-Virtuosi Racing 1
11 Juri Vips DAMS
12 Pedro Piquet Charouz Racing System
13 Jack Aitken Campos Racing
14 Marino Sato Trident
15 Marcus Armstrong ART Grand Prix
16 Artem Markelov BWT HWA Racelab
17 Christian Lundgaard ART Grand Prix
18 Giuliano Alesi BWT HWA Racelab
19 Jehan Daruvala Carlin
20 Guilherme Samaia Campos Racing
Ret. Nobuharu Matsushita MP Motorsport
DSQ Felipe Drugovich MP Motorsport

F3 Spa: maiden win for Zendelli as Piastri retakes title lead

Trident’s Lirim Zendelli controlled the F3 feature race at Spa for his first win in the series, as Oscar Piastri capitalised on problems for title rival Logan Sargeant to retake the championship lead.

Zendelli got a clean start from pole to keep the lead at the start ahead of ART’s Theo Pourchaire and Aleksandr Smolyar. Two rows back, Zendelli’s teammate David Beckmann passed Sargeant to move up from fifth to fourth, and started targeting Smolyar’s podium position.

The early battles were neutralised by a virtual safety car on lap 3, following a series of punctures for Clement Novalak, Andreas Estner and Enzo Fittipaldi that left debris on track, and Alessio Deledda spinning into the gravel.

When the VSC was withdrawn on lap 5, Beckmann pounced on Smolyar to take third. Smolyar briefly retook the position, but Beckmann repassed the ART definitively on lap 7 and pulled out a gap to hold his place on the podium.

At the same time, Zendelli broke out of DRS range from Pourchaire and proceeded to pull away more with each lap. After adding another second over Pourchaire by lap 10, Zendelli continued pushing until the chequered flag, crossing the line almost five seconds clear of the ART in second and Beckmann in third.

Oscar Piastri, Prema (Bryn Lennon / Getty Images)

Behind the leading trio, Piastri finished fifth behind Smolyar in a potentially crucial result for his championship campaign.

Sargeant had stayed in fifth early on after being passed by Beckmann, and was gaining on Smolyar to move up to fourth. Meanwhile, Piastri was making his way up from the lower half of the top 10, passing Richard Verschoor and Liam Lawson to get up to sixth by lap 10.

With four seconds separating the two Premas, Sargeant then suddenly slowed on lap 13, losing two seconds with a suspected engine problem. Piastri closed up to within a second two laps later, before he breezed past Sargeant for fifth on the run to Eau Rouge.

Sargeant continued to nurse his car through the final laps despite saying on team radio that he didn’t think he could make it to the end. However, he lost another two positions to teammate Frederik Vesti and Trident’s Olli Caldwell before the chequered flag, and eventually finished in eighth. The result has given Piastri the lead of the championship again with five points in hand over Sargeant.

Lawson finished in ninth place after struggling with his tyres for much of the race, and Verschoor will start from reverse grid pole tomorrow after taking tenth place. Finally, Pourchaire gained the extra two points for setting the fastest lap within the top ten.

The two rookies making their debuts this weekend, Michael Belov and Pierre-Louis Chovet, finished 20th and 22nd respectively, while Estner finished 27th after his puncture on his return to F3.

Theo Pourchaire, ART (Dan Istitene / Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Full race result:

Pos. Driver Team Points
1 Lirim Zendelli Trident 25
2 Theo Pourchaire (FL) ART Grand Prix 20
3 David Beckmann Trident 15
4 Aleksandr Smolyar ART Grand Prix 12
5 Oscar Piastri Prema Racing 10
6 Frederik Vesti Prema Racing 8
7 Olli Caldwell Trident 6
8 Logan Sargeant Prema Racing 4
9 Liam Lawson Hitech Grand Prix 2
10 Richard Verschoor MP Motorsport 1
11 Sebastian Fernandez ART Grand Prix
12 Jack Doohan HWA Racelab
13 Matteo Nannini Jenzer Motorsport
14 Alex Peroni Campos Racing
15 Dennis Hauger Hitech Grand Prix
16 Calan Williams Jenzer Motorsport
17 David Schumacher Carlin Buzz Racing
18 Federico Malvestiti Jenzer Motorsport
19 Igor Fraga Charouz Racing System
20 Michael Belov Charouz Racing System
21 Lukas Dunner MP Motorsport
22 Pierre-Louis Chovet Hitech Grand Prix
23 Bent Viscaal MP Motorsport
24 Roman Stanek Charouz Racing System
25 Cameron Das Carlin Buzz Racing
26 Enzo Fittipaldi HWA Racelab
27 Andreas Estner Campos Racing
Ret. Jake Hughes HWA Racelab
Ret. Clement Novalak Carlin Buzz Racing
Ret. Alessio Deledda Campos Racing

F3 Spa preview: title fight resumes for final triple header

Formula 3 returns this weekend at Belgium’s legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit, kicking off the final leg of the 2020 championship.

In three weeks’ time, F3 will conclude its season at Mugello and crown a new champion. At the moment that champion looks set to be either Logan Sargeant or Oscar Piastri, who are separated by only a single point at the top of the standings and 31 points clear of the next-best driver.

Predicting who will come out on top of the standings this weekend is almost impossible, as Sargeant and Piastri have mostly matched up well against each other’s weaknesses this year. Piastri has had the more “higher” results of the pair, with two wins and three second places, and has been in the points in all but one race.

But on the other hand, Sargeant has had the upper hand in qualifying, taking the last three pole positions in a row while Piastri is yet to take one at all. And while incidents have dropped Sargeant out of the points on two occasions this year, when he has scored it’s always been inside the top six.

Liam Lawson, Hitech (Dutch Photo Agency / Red Bull Content Pool)

The trouble for Sargeant and Piastri is that while they’re largely on their own in the title battle, they can’t afford to just focus on each other.

Liam Lawson is currently third in the standings with two race wins to his name—the same as Piastri, and one more than points leader Sargeant. Although the Hitech driver’s title bid was hamstrung early on with three retirements in Austria and Hungary, Lawson was actually the second-best scoring driver over the last three rounds.

With a feature race win and two podiums, Lawson scored 74 points in the Silverstone and Barcelona triple header, 20 more than Piastri and only seven fewer than Sargeant. It would take an even bigger swing for Lawson to get amongst the title battle in the final three rounds, but if he can deliver should trouble hit the Prema duo we could be looking at a surprise three-horse race by the time we reach Mugello.

Sophia Floersch, Campos (Joe Portlock / LAT Images / FIA F3 Championship)

Finally, there have been several lineup changes ahead of this weekend. Sophia Floersch will miss Spa as it clashes with the ELMS round at Paul Ricard, and she will be deputised for at Campos by Andreas Estner, who returns to F3 after racing for Jenzer last year.

Last week it was announced that David Schumacher was leaving Charouz as a result of the team’s lack of results. He’s now joined Carlin for the remainder of the season, driving the #27 car previously piloted by Enaam Ahmed, Ben Barnicoat and Leonardo Pulcini.

Schumacher’s replacement at Charouz is Formula Renault Eurocup driver Michael Belov. He will be the second F3 rookie making his debut this weekend, as Max Fewtrell left Hitech after Spain and has been replaced by Formula Regional European driver Pierre-Louis Chovet.