CEO Bruno Michel looks back at an eventful sixth round of the 2021 season and picks out his key topics from Zandvoort.
Michel discusses the trio of rookie podium finishers, the third tier’s debut at Zandvoort and he looks at the title race ahead of the final round of the season.
DOWN TO THE WIRE
Once again, the Drivers’ title will be decided in the final round of the season… Only two men can claim the 2021 F3 crown: Dennis Hauger and Jack Doohan. The Norwegian was back on top form last week at Zandvoort, off the back of a difficult weekend at Spa-Francorchamps.
Quickest in Qualifying, the PREMA racer dominated Race 3 on Sunday to take a fourth win this season, setting up the fastest lap along the way. In the opening race on Saturday, he gained five positions to finish seventh on a track where overtaking requires a lot of skills and boldness. Hauger enjoys a 43 points advantage over Doohan ahead of the final round.
The pressure is now on the Australian to produce a stellar performance in Sochi if he wants to keep his title hopes alive… Doohan could have reduced the gap to Hauger in Race 2 at Zandvoort, after the Norwegian suffered a puncture in the final stages, but he was struggling with issues himself and went wide a few corners later, dropping outside of the top 10. Both have the speed and the talent to fight for glory. The champion will be revealed in three weeks’ time.
ROOKIES AT THE TOP
Three rookies took silverware last weekend, starting with Arthur Leclerc in Race 1. The Monegasque driver claimed a second win this year, after sustaining pressure from Logan Sargeant. It’s been an uneven season for Leclerc, but when given the opportunity to shine, he rarely fails… Meanwhile, in the same race, Ayumu Iwasa collected another podium finish, his second in 2021 so far.
Finally, Victor Martins was once again at the front: P3 in qualifying, together with Hauger, he produced a mature race from 10th on the grid to eighth at the flag in the first race. In Race 2, he claimed a maiden win from fifth on the grid, thanks to slick moves. His joy in the parc fermé and on the podium showed just how much it meant to him and to his MP Motorsport team, who were able to celebrate their first win in 2021 at home.
Unfortunately, Martins’ impatience in Race 3 cost him and David Schumacher another podium finish. Because of it, he dropped from third to fourth in the Championship, but he remains the highest ranked rookie. Let’s see if he can redeem himself in Sochi.
Clément Novalak was impressively consistent in the first two rounds of the season, before a pointless Round 3. Since then, he has scored in all but one race in the course of the past three race weekends. In Zandvoort, he claimed two second places in a row which helped him move up to third in the Championship.
Hauger is out of his reach, but his teammate Doohan and the subsequent second place in the standings is a target. With their squad, Trident also fighting for the Teams’ title, the final round of the 2021 campaign promises to be a nail biter!
FIRST TIME IN ZANDVOORT
There were quite a few question marks going to Zandvoort for the first time: would the track provide us with a good show? What would the atmosphere be like? After the dust settled, we can happily say that it was a success.
Both races on Saturday were quite entertaining, even if Race 3 on Sunday was a bit calmer by F3’s standards. As for the atmosphere, the Dutch fans were amazing, coming early and staying late to follow the action, loudly cheering, dancing and singing. It’s become an instant classic.
A CHANGE TO THE CALENDAR
As you already know, last weekend we announced that Sochi will host the final round of the season, instead of Austin. The decision was made following some unavoidable logistical changes that would have heavily impacted the overall costs. As you know, we do everything to keep the costs as low as possible, so we had to find a solution.
I know many are disappointed that we will not race in Austin, and I am sad too. I’m hopeful that we will go racing there in the future. Now we are focusing on Sochi, which is a track that we know pretty well and where Robert Shwartzman became F3 Champion in 2019. It will be a very busy weekend with three races in F3 and three races in F2. It will also be very intense for the teams and the drivers who, I’m sure, will want to end their campaign on a high note. See you in Russia!