PREVIEW : FIA Formula 3 – Spa-Francorchamps
With 3 rounds remaining in the FIA Formula 3 season the series heads to one of the most famous circuits on the calendar – Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps and with drivers hoping to impress aiming for a move up to FIA Formula 2 in 2022, three exciting races await the spectators and the drivers.
Spa-Francorchamps is one of the most famous circuits on the calendar famed for its Eau Rouge – Raidillon complex and has plenty of overtaking opportunities and the format of the weekend will be Practice and Qualifying on Friday, Two Sprint Races on Saturday and a feature race to round up the action on the Sunday morning.
In the championship its Dennis Hauger who dominates the standings with 152 points ahead of Jack Doohan (89) and Olli Caldwell (86) after Hauger added another feature race win to his name at the Hungaroring to take his tally to 3 wins for the year. Below Hauger however, the championship battle is very close with only 23 points separating Doohan in second and Victor Martins in seventh.
In driver news, there has been plenty of movement, in the Carlin garage Kaylen Frederick has tested positive for COVID-19 and will therefore miss the round and a double change at Czech team Charouz see’s Enzo Fittipaldi and Reshad de Gerus replaced by Hunter Yeany and Zdenek Chovanec both of whom will be making their debut.
WHAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR?
Last season, FIA Formula 3 had a different format consisting of more race weekends but less races and it was now Formula 2 driver Lirim Zendelli who took pole position ahead of Théo Pourchaire and Aleksandr Smolyar the latter of which will be racing this weekend.
In the first race, Zendelli converted his pole position into a race win ahead of Théo Pourchaire and David Beckmann with eventual championship winner Oscar Piastri down in fifth. It was a incident-packed race as per usual in Formula 3 with Andreas Estner losing his front wing, Enzo Fttipaldi suffered a tyre blowout. Alessio Deledda brought out the safety car after beachig his Campos in the gravel.
In the sprint race it was a PREMA Racing 1-2 – Logan Sargeant coming home ahead of Frederik Vesti and Liam Lawson, the non finishers this time being Jack Doohan after a mechanical issue and Michael Belov and Pierre-Louis Chovet after a race-ending collision between the pair.
Logan Sargeant who will be racing this year in the Charouz lead the championship after the weekend but unfortunately would not be able to convert this into a championship win after now Formula-2 Championship leader Oscar Piastri had a stellar end to the season.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK OUT FOR THIS WEEKEND?
As always in FIA Formula 3 tyre management will be key for the drivers with pit stops not being mandatory in any of the races, a driver can choose to go out hard and make up positions at the start but then finish the race with tyres that have little life or choose to start conservatively and attack at the end whilst other drivers are struggling with their tyres, all of this will be a crucial skill for the drivers hoping to move up the Motorsport ladder.
After testing positive for COVID-19 and having to miss the Le Castallet round of the championship László Tóth will be hoping to score his first points of the season in his Campos and has told the Formula 3 website that he now feels back in peak condition, after having to take time away from the simulator and the gym due to the illness. As well as Tóth there are several other drivers who are yet to open their championship account such as Amaury Cordeel, Rafael Villagómez and Ido Cohen to name a few, the desperation to score these points could lead to riskier moves with these drivers having less to lose than those who are still in the battle for the top positions in the championship.
There will no doubt be a sense of intrigue surrounding the two debutants Hunter Yeany and Zdenek Chovanec, Yeany being just sixteen years old and already a US Formula Champion and seventeen year old Chovenec being a UAE F4 and Italian F4 Podium finisher, no doubt both will be hoping to make an instant impact and prove their worth hoping for a potential seat next season.
The two candidates most likely candidates this weekend for pole position have to be Dennis Hauger and Jack Doohan, the former being the championship leader who has been so consistent throughout the series and the latter being in a Trident car that always tends to go well on circuits that rely heavily on top speed of which Spa is one of them with its long Kemmel straight.
Outside shots for Pole Position and to fill the other podium positions include : Olli Caldwell, Victor Martins who will be wanting to recover from a poor set of results at the Hungaroring and Frederik Vesti who similarly will be wanting to bounce back from a disappointing race at Budapest.
Many fans will be hoping to see Arthur Leclerc build on the promise he has started to show in his rookie year and the Monagasque driver is another who has a very good chance of at least a top 5 position.
WHAT IS THE SCHEDULE FOR THIS WEEKEND?
All times shown below are the local track times :
Friday 27th August
10:05-10:50 – Practice
13:55-14:25 – Qualifying
Saturday 28th August
10:05-10:45 – Race 1
17:55-18:35 – Race 2
Sunday 29th August
10:40-11:20 – Race 3
WHERE CAN I WATCH?
Coverage in the United Kingdom will be provided by Sky Sports F1 or alternatively for those not residing in the United Kingdom signing up for F1 TV is always a good alternative for those who don’t have access to Sky.
HOW CAN I KEEP UP WITH ALL THE ACTION?
For those who cannot watch the race but want to follow the action Formula 3 Live Timings is another good alternative, showing the sector timings of all the drivers plus little snippets of commentary text to keep those interested informed on the race. The Checkered Flag will be covering all of the sessions providing detailed session reports for anyone who wants to reminisce about what happened or catch up on what they’ve missed, make sure to follow us on Twitter to ensure that you receive notifications when an article has been published.