CEO Bruno Michel looks back at an eventful second round of the 2021 season and picks out his key topics from Le Castellet.
Michel discusses the exciting Championship battle, Victor Martins exploits on home turf and Arthur Leclerc’s zero to hero performance.
Victor Martins’ first two rounds of the 2021 season has been very impressive. The Frenchman scored a first podium in Barcelona, proving that he has the skills and the determination to be fighting at the front on a regular basis. Last week, on home soil, he once again qualified in third place and went on to grab two podiums in the first two races.
He scored a total of 36 points, taking 12 in each race, and he currently lies second in the Championship, just six points behind Dennis Hauger. He’s adapted quickly to the F3 car and to the race weekend format in order to maximise his potential.
Another driver scored the same number of points in France, claiming a maiden win along the way: Jack Doohan. Fourth in qualifying, the Australian went on to finish seventh and fifth on Saturday before mastering the wet conditions in Race 3 to cross the line in first position. His elation in the parc fermé showed how much this result means to him, and his resolve to be a title contender in 2021.
NO CLEAR CHAMPIONSHIP LEADER
A mere 33 points cover the top eight in the Drivers’ Championship, which comes to show that the fight for the crown will be intense yet again this season. We’ve had five different winners in the first six races, with Alex Smolyar the only driver with two victories. Only two men have consistently scored in all six events: Victor Martins and Clément Novalak.
In a championship where consistency is key, it puts both drivers in second and in fourth, respectively. Dennis Hauger keeps the lead thanks to another strong weekend and two more podium finishes in Le Castellet, but his rivals stay dangerously close.
His teammate Olli Caldwell currently lies fifth after a disappointing weekend, while Caio Collet and Frederik Vesti took enough points – including a pole position for the Dane, to remain within reach of the top of the Standings. It will be interesting to see if new rivals emerge in Austria in Round 3 to make the title chase even more thrilling.
FROM ZERO TO HERO
Arthur Leclerc is another exciting rookie this season. There has been a lot of expectation surrounding the young Ferrari protégé. He experienced a quiet opening round in Barcelona, but he showed some strong potential. His qualifying session at Le Castellet last weekend ended early following a mistake that meant he had to start Race 1 last on the grid.
From there, he pulled off a superb drive from 30th to 12th, which allowed him to start from reverse pole in Race 2. He went on to dominate the rest of the pack to take a maiden win. On Sunday, he once again started P30 and this time finished P13, overtaking 17 cars in the process. If he manages to qualify well in the remaining rounds, I expect him to be fighting for more wins and podiums.
THE LEADING PACK
Looking at the Teams’ Championship, four squads have broken away from the rest of the field. Reigning Champions PREMA Racing stay top, but their lead is not as big as in previous years. Trident remain just 15 points behind, while MP Motorsport and ART Grand Prix took pole position, a win and podiums between them in France to remain in the battle for top honours.
There’s a 62 point-gap between ART in fourth and Hitech Grand Prix in fifth. Surprisingly, the British side are experiencing a tough start to their 2021 campaign, having scored only 19 points so far. It’s one more than Charouz Racing System and three more than HWA RACELAB. All three teams have a line-up with a lot of potential, but something has been missing so far to make them front-runners.
Meanwhile, Jenzer Motorsport’s season may be turning around for the better after they pocketed their first podium at Le Castellet thanks to Calan Williams. With 65 points on offer at each weekend, the Standings could look very different come the final round of the season.