Who is ready for an action-packed season? Tomorrow, it is finally that time again. The FIA Formula 3 Championship will start its third season at the Spanish GP. It is high time that we look at the upcoming 2021 FIA F3 season. Besides the teams, drivers, tracks and the new race format, we will also take a look at the pre-season tests at Spielberg and Barcelona. Plus, I will give you my predictions for the season at the end of the preview.
Dennis Hauger, Arthur Leclerc, Olli Caldwell
Prema starts this season with three new drivers. Dennis Hauger was still racing with Hitech GP last year and made the podium once in the second race at the Hungaroring, finishing in P3. In 2019, the Norwegian won the Italian Formula 4. Meanwhile Arthur Leclerc moves up from Formula Regional EU. He was runner-up there last year, winning six races. Olli Caldwell has already competed with the team in Formula 4 in 2018 and Formula Regional EU in 2019. Last year he competed for Trident in FIA F3. A fifth place at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg was his best result in the series so far.
Jack Doohan, Clément Novalak, David Schumacher
We also find three new faces at Trident this year. All three are starting their second FIA F3 season. Jack Doohan competed with HWA Racelab last year. An eleventh place in the last race of last year's season was his best result so far. Clément Novalak can finally compete with a French license this year. Last season, the 2019 British F3 champion made the podium twice with Carlin. Their teammate this year is David Schumacher. The German started last year with Charouz and Carlin. However, he was unable to score points with either team.
ART Grand Prix
Frederik Vesti, Aleksandr Smolyar, Juan Manuel Correa
ART Grand Prix has signed two new drivers for this season. The newest member of the Mercedes Junior Team, Frederik Vesti, was racing with Prema last year. The 2019 Formula Regional EU champion finished fourth overall at the time and managed to win three races. Alex Smolyar already drove for the French team last year. The Russian finished eleventh in the championship and made the podium in P3 in the second race at Monza. The two will be teammates with Juan Manuel Correa this year. In 2019, he was involved in the fatal Formula 2 accident at Spa-Francorchamps. Unlike Anthoine Hubert, he survived the horrific accident, fought his way back to normal life through rehab and will make his comeback in a race car this year.
Hitech Grand Prix
Jak Crawford, Ayumu Iwasa, Roman Staněk
Hitech GP is also competing with three new drivers this year. Just a week ago, Jak Crawford turned 16. The American Red Bull Junior made his debut in Europe last year. Among other things, he was runner-up in the German ADAC Formula 4 and won seven races in last year's season. Japan's Ayumu Iwasa is the newest member of the Red Bull Junior team. Last year he won the French Formula 4 with nine race wins and 15 podiums. He also won the Rookie Cup in F3 Asia earlier this year. Czech driver Roman Staněk competed for Charouz last season. The 2019 ADAC F4 Rookie Champion scored points once as eighth in Monza.
Matteo Nannini, Oliver Rasmussen, Rafael Villagómez
This season, HWA Racelab will be fielding Matteo Nannini, Oliver Rasmussen and Rafael Villagómez. The Italian Nannini is the only driver in the field to take on a double program of FIA F3 and Formula 2 this year. Last year, the 2019 F4 UAE champion already competed with Jenzer in Formula 3, managing to finish the second race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in third place. For his two teammates, it will be their first season in FIA F3. Oliver Rasmussen finished third in the Formula Regional EU championship with the Prema team last year. The Dane won six races and finished on the podium thirteen times. Mexican Rafael Villagómez is also competing in Euroformula Open this year in addition to FIA F3. Last year he contested a double British and French Formula 4 program, twice making it onto the podium in the two racing series.
Victor Martins, Caio Collet, Tijmen van der Helm
MP Motorsport has both of this years FIA F3 Alpine Junior drivers in their team. Victor Martins and Caio Collet already fought for the last Formula Renault Eurocup title last year, with the better end for Martins. He won the championship with seven wins and 14 podiums ahead of Collet. The French F4 champion of 2018 was ultimately 44 points short of Martins. Caio Collet won five races and was on the podium twelve times. It will also be the first year in FIA Formula 3 for Tijmen van der Helm. The Dutchman competed in the Formula Renault Eurocup last year, where a fourth-place finish from the first race in Monza was his best race result.
László Tóth, Lorenzo Colombo, Amaury Cordeel
Campos Racing will compete with three FIA F3 rookies this year. Hungarian László Tóth competed in Formula Renault Eurocup with Bhaitech last year. His best result was a seventh place on the first race weekend in Monza. Lorenzo Colombo finally moves up to FIA F3 after three years in Formula Renault Eurocup. Last season he managed to win three races with Bhaitech and finished the championship in fifth place. The Spanish Formula 4 champion of 2018 Amaury Cordeel completes the team's driver trio. He also competed in Formula Renault Eurocup last season, where a fifth-place finish with FA Racing at Zandvoort was his best result.
Carlin Buzz Racing
Ido Cohen, Kaylen Frederick, Jonny Edgar
Carlin Buzz Racing has three new drivers in the team this year. All three will contest their first FIA Formula 3 season this year. Ido Cohen from Israel raced with Carlin in the Euroformula Open last season. He finished seventh in the championship and was on the podium twice at Spa-Francorchamps. Kaylen Frederick also drove for the team last year. The American won the British BRDC Formula 3 with nine victories and twelve podiums. Reigning ADAC Formula 4 champion Jonny Edgar is competing with the team for the first time. Last season, the Red Bull Junior won eight races in German and Italian Formula 4.
Calan Williams, Pierre-Louis Chovet, Filip Ugran
The Swiss team Jenzer Motorsport has signed two new drivers for this season in the FIA F3. Australian Calan Williams enters his second season with the team. The Australian Formula 3 champion of 2017 achieved his best results with three fourteenth places. Twice in Silverstone and once in Barcelona. Pierre-Louis Chovet started last year in Formula Regional EU where he won a race in Barcelona and was on the podium seven times. He also raced two weekends with Hitech GP in FIA F3 last year. At the beginning of this year he fought for the F3 Asia championship title. In the end he won six races and was runner-up. Romanian Filip Ugran already competed with Jenzer Motorsport in Italian and Spanish Formula 4 last year, winning three races and finishing on the podium eight times.
Charouz Racing System
Logan Sargeant, Enzo Fittipaldi, Reshad de Gerus
The longest we had to wait for the full lineup of Charouz Racing System. The Czech team wants to be able to compete for points again this year. Last year's third place finisher in the FIA F3 Championship Logan Sargeant already brings a lot of experience with him. Last season, the American won two races, stood on the podium six times and fought for the drivers' championship right to the end. Surprisingly, Enzo Fittipaldi will contest a second season in FIA Formula 3. On the last race weekend of last season, he recorded his best results of the entire year with P5 and P4. Their teammate this season is the French Formula 4 runner-up of 2019, Reshad de Gerus, who competed in Formula Renault Eurocup last year. With Arden Motorsport, a seventh-place finish at Imola was his best result in the racing series.
Round 1: Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya (8-9 May)
The season opener takes place this weekend at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. The FIA F3 was also a guest here last season. The first race on Saturday was won by Jake Hughes with HWA Racelab. On Sunday, Oscar Piastri and Prema were victorious.
Round 2: Circuit Paul Ricard (26-27 June)
It will not be until the end of June that the FIA F3 will line up for its second race weekend at Circuit Paul Ricard. No FIA F3 races were held here in 2020 due to the global pandemic. At the last staging two years ago, Jehan Daruvala and Robert Shwartzman won with Prema.
Round 3: Red Bull Ring (3-4 July)
The third round of the season will then take place at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria. Last year, four races were held here over two weekends to kick off the season. Oscar Piastri with Prema and Liam Lawson with Hitech won on the first weekend back then. Frederik Vesti with Prema and Théo Pourchaire with ART Grand Prix were victorious on the second weekend.
Round 4: Hungaroring (31 July - 1 August)
The fourth race weekend takes place at the Hungaroring. Hungary was also able to host a race weekend last year, despite the pandemic. The first race on Saturday was won then by Théo Pourchaire and ART Grand Prix. On Sunday David Beckmann and Trident won.
Round 5: Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps (28 - 29 August)
At the end of August, they will start again at the Circuit Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. Last season, Lirim Zendeli and Trident won on Saturday and Logan Sargeant and Prema on Sunday.
Round 6: Circuit Zandvoort (4 - 5 September)
The penultimate round of this year's championship brings the FIA F3 to Zandvoort in the Netherlands for the first time. The debut of the modified circuit was already planned for last year, but could not be held due to the Corona pandemic.
Round 7: Circuit of the Americas (23 - 24 October)
This year, the season finale will take place at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas. This will be the first time that the FIA F3 has been hosted at a circuit outside Europe.
For this season, there will be a new race format with three races per weekend. For the first time, FIA F3/GP3 will no longer compete with F2/GP2 on the same F1 weekend. The weekend will start as usual on Friday with free practice in the morning and qualifying in the afternoon. On Saturday there will be two sprint races. For the first race, the top 12 of qualifying will start in reverse order. For the second race, the top 12 of the first race will then start in reverse order. For the main race on Sunday, the actual qualifying result will be used for the starting grid.
The first points of the weekend are up for grabs in qualifying on Friday. The driver who secures pole position will receive four points.
Since the starting grid for the first and second race on Saturday is determined by the partial reversal of earlier results, there are fewer points for the top 10 in both races. (P1:15, P2: 12, P3: 10, P4: 8, P5: 6, P6: 5, P7: 4, P8: 3, P9: 2, P10: 1)
For the third race on Sunday there will be points for the top 10 as we are used to in F1.
(P1: 25, P2: 18, P3: 15, P4: 12, P5: 10, P6: 8, P7: 6, P8: 4, P9: 2, P10: 1)
In addition, there are two extra points for the fastest race lap in each race, provided that this driver finishes in the top 10.
Two race tracks have each held two test days so far this year. At the beginning of April, they were guests at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, before continuing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on April 21 and 22.
Spielberg - Day 1:
In the first session in the morning, Clément Novalak with Trident was the fastest driver. Caio Collet and Victor Martins followed in second and third place. The fastest lap time of the day was set by Alex Smolyar with ART Grand Prix in the second session in the afternoon. Jonny Edgar, Frederik Vesti, Jak Crawford and Dennis Hauger followed just behind.
Spielberg - Day 2:
The second day of testing at the Red Bull Ring began in snowfall. The track then became drier and drier. Calan Williams and Jenzer Motorsport were able to set the fastest lap time in the morning. Matteo Nannini, Kaylen Frederick, Victor Martins and Jak Crawford followed close behind. In the afternoon, Caio Collet and MP Motorsport were fastest. Dennis Hauger, Jak Crawford and Jonny Edgar followed in the other places.
P1: Caio Collet
P2: Dennis Hauger + 0.119 sec
P3: Jak Crawford + 0.183
P4: Jonny Edgar + 0.199
P5: Calan Williams + 0.244
P6: Matteo Nannini + 0.266
P7: Frederik Vesti + 0.288
P8: Clément Novalak + 0.294
P9: Alex Smolyar + 0.302
P10: Michael Belov + 0.302
Barcelona - Day 1:
In the first practice session in the morning, Jak Crawford set the fastest time with Hitech GP. He was followed by Pierre-Louis Chovet, Kaylen Frederick and Jonny Edgar. The fastest time of the day was set in the afternoon by Victor Martins with MP Motorsport. Jack Doohan and Frederik Vesti followed more than six tenths behind.
Barcelona - Day 2:
On the second day at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Victor Martins was again the fastest. In the faster morning session he was just over a tenth ahead of Alex Smolyar, Jack Doohan and Logan Sargeant. In the afternoon, Calan Williams was almost half a second faster than Ayumu Iwasa and Pierre-Louis Chovet.
P1: Victor Martins
P2: Alex Smolyar + 0.132 sec
P3: Jack Doohan + 0.167
P4: Logan Sargeant + 0.170
P5: Clément Novalak + 0.240
P6: Matteo Nannini + 0.253
P7: Ayumu Iwasa + 0.283
P8: Frederik Vesti + 0.297
P9: Dennis Hauger + 0.363
P10: Juan Manuel Correa + 0.375
As every year I dare to make a little prediction for this year's FIA Formula 3 drivers and teams championships.
Drivers Championship Prediction
P1: Dennis Hauger
P2: Frederik Vesti
P3: Victor Martins
P4: Arthur Leclerc
P5: Clément Novalak
My two top favorites for the title are Dennis Hauger and Frederik Vesti. It will be the second season in FIA F3 for both of them. And both have already won single-seater series in the past. I also expect Prema to be the strongest team again this year. Therefore I also see Arthur Leclerc up there in the mix. But the rest of the teams seem to be steadily closing the gap to Prema. Especially MP Motorsport and their two drivers Victor Martins and Caio Collet looked very strong in the pre-season tests. Also, you cannot underestimate Jak Crawford at Hitech either.
Teams Championship Prediction
P1: Prema Team
P2: ART Grand Prix
P3: MP Motorsport
My favorite for the title in the team classification this year is again the Italian Prema team. In my opinion, however, ART Grand Prix in particular will make life difficult for them. Behind them there will be a close fight for the other places. I think that in the end MP Motorsport, Trident, Hitech GP and Carlin will settle the third place in the championship among themselves.
written by Claudio Graf (youngdriversmonthly) / 6th May, 2021