The Autodromo Nazionale Monza has provided thrills and spills across the years in FIA Formula 3. Which performances stick out in the memory though? With plenty to choose from, we’ve identified these four examples of Monza magic.
From maiden wins to comeback drives and Championship battles, these are some of the biggest and best F3 drives across the years around the famed Temple of Speed.
Yuki Tsunoda – Jenzer Motorsport, 2019
The fast sweeps of Monza are difficult enough but with rain leaving the track wet for Race 2 back in 2019, all drivers had a tough task on their hands. Going from sixth on the grid, there were no issues for Yuki Tsunoda, who launched his Jenzer Motorsport car off the line and up to third immediately by the first corner. Dispatching Fabio Scherer for second, it set up a battle for the lead with Jake Hughes. That battle took longer to materialise than the Japanese driver might have liked, being two seconds back from the race leader at halfway.
No matter though, as the Jenzer driver got to work and pumped in a series of fastest laps to obliterate that gap and on Lap 15 of 22, his moment arrived. Late on the brakes, Tsunoda just about got his car stopped in time to take the lead of the race. From that point on, he didn’t look back and built up a 1.3s lead in the closing stages to seal his and Jenzer’s maiden F3 victory.
Oscar Piastri – PREMA Racing, 2020
Arriving at Monza second in the Championship behind Logan Sargeant, Oscar Piastri needed a strong weekend to close the points gap as much as possible to the American. Seven points back, it looked doable, but a torrid Qualifying session left him 15th on the grid with his rival up in P5. Come the Feature Race though and the turnaround story was sensational. As Sargeant slipped down the order, Piastri got the better of his PREMA Racing teammate not once, but twice after an error put him back behind his rival, but only temporarily.
He wasn’t done there either, as he cleared several more including Liam Lawson and Jake Hughes in the final three laps to take the last spot on the Monza podium and 15 critical points. It was enough to put him top of the Standings heading into the final round at Mugello, eight points to the good ahead of Sargeant.
Théo Pourchaire – ART Grand Prix, 2020
If you mention Monza 2020, you cannot forget to mention Théo Pourchaire’s wonder weekend. Arriving on Italian soil fifth in the Drivers’ Championship, it looked like the Frenchman’s campaign was all but over. And yet, some inspired performances from the ART Grand Prix driver across the weekend gave him a Championship lifeline. Starting from sixth on the grid, Pourchaire capitalised on rivals’ woes to secure P2 in Race 1 and take 18 vital points after battling with 2023 F2 title rival Frederik Vesti for victory.
In Race 2, the Frenchman didn’t let up and took advantage of DNFs for top five contenders David Beckmann, Oscar Piastri and Logan Sargeant to increase his momentum. From ninth on the grid, he surged up to P2 by the chequered flag to collect another 12 points to add to his tally. It meant after coming to Monza with a 46-point deficit to Championship leader Sargeant, he left with the gap to new leader Piastri down at 24. A solid effort that set up a slim hope, it turned out to be a titanic Championship finale at Mugello a week later courtesy of his Monza performances.
Oliver Bearman – PREMA Racing, 2022
With seven drivers mathematically still in contention for the 2023 Drivers’ Championship, the pressure couldn’t have been higher. Yet, at just 17-years-old, Oliver Bearman took that in his stride. After a strong Spa-Francorchamps round, he mounted a late title bid, catching leader Victor Martins hand over fist in the Standings. After Qualifying didn’t quite go the way of the PREMA Racing driver, ending up sixth behind five of his title rivals, the onus was on the Briton to stage another fightback.
He charged through to second in the Sprint Race, almost taking victory on the final lap from then-Van Amersfoort Racing driver Franco Colapinto to put him within touching distance of the title. On Sunday, his approach was as aggressive as ever. Going wheel-to-wheel with teammate Arthur Leclerc on the opening lap, Bearman successfully took fifth around the outside at Turn 4. He was up to P2 after passing Martins at halfway but a Safety Car and Red Flag right at the end ended his battle with Zane Maloney for the lead and hopes of clinching the title.