The FIA Formula 3 campaign finally fires into action in Spielberg this weekend, with the first of an initial eight-round calendar.

As always with F3, we enter into the unknown. The level of competition means we never truly know what to expect heading into a new season. We take a look at the burning questions ahead of the 2020 campaign, and what you should be watching out for.

Can Verschoor carry over Macau success?

The dynamic Dutchman stunned the world when he took a surprise victory at the FIA F3 World Cup last November, becoming the first rookie winner for more than a decade. Nearly eight months may have passed since that historic moment, but Richard Verschoor’s priorities will undoubtedly remain the same.

While many of his competitors have switched to new teams, he has opted for continuity heading into the new season, choosing to stick with MP Motorsport, the side who led him to victory.

The question remains, can he follow up that success in F3?

Peroni makes his racing comeback

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Alexander Peroni will make his long-awaited racing return in Spielberg, following a spinal injury in Monza last year. The Aussie returns to Campos for the new season and it will be great to see a fully recovered Peroni back in racing action.

The 20-year-old was in imperious form when pre-season testing took place last March, showing little rustiness to top the timesheets. Keep that up, and he’ll be in and around it.

Can Sophia flourish?

Peroni’s teammate Sophia Floersch will make history when the cars take to the track in Spielberg, becoming the first ever woman to race in F3.

And what’s more, her debut will come less than two years after she suffered spinal injuries herself, having been in a horrific crash in the 2018 Macau Grand Prix.

The German returned to Macau for the 2019 edition and subsequently won the Laureus World Sports Award for World Comeback of the Year. Now in F3 full-time, she’ll be hoping to add a few podiums to her trophy cabinet as well.

There’s much more to Fraga than his Esports success

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Floersch won’t be the only first in F3 this year. Brazilian racer Igor Fraga will become the first F1 Esports competitor to race on an F1 weekend. The Red Bull junior will be looking to prove he is much more than that though.

Fraga was a racer long before he was an Esports competitor, and in the past 12 months alone has taken third in the 2019 Formula Regional European Championship, as well as winning the 2020 Toyota Racing Series.

What impact can HWA have in their second season

The German racing giants showed plenty of promise in their first season of F3, winning once and taking four podiums, but return for their second campaign with their eyes firmly fixed on the title. Whether or not they can get their hands on it too, remains the key question.

Their recruits for the new season show they mean business, retaining the experience of 2019 race winner Jake Hughes, who proved pivotal in 2019. The Brit is not just a domineering presence out on track, but he’s pivotal behind the scenes too.

Alongside him will be a couple of famous surnames. Ferrari junior Enzo Fittipaldi, grandson of legendary two-time F1 World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi, has signed on for the season. Alongside him will be Red Bull junior Jack Doohan, son of five-time MotoGP World Champion, Mick Doohan.

With that calibre of family tree, they certainly won’t be short of experience to call upon.

Will Carlin recover from a rough 2019 season?

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2019 wasn’t the easiest of years for Carlin in F3. The historic British racing outfit didn’t quite get to grips with the machinery in the first season, but, the side do have pedigree. They won the old GP3 series as recently as 2014, and took fourth in the final season of European F3.

As they say, form is temporary, class is permanent. Trevor Carlin and his team will be wanting to prove this old adage in 2020, and have signed some serious talent in their attempts to do so.

Taking on two British F3 champions in Enaam Ahmed (2017) and Clement Novalak (2019) has certainly boosted his ranks, while American Cameron Das showed enough in testing to suggest he could provide them with further spark.

Can Hitech take the fight to PREMA?

Hitech Grand Prix enjoyed a stellar first season in F3, emerging as the closest challengers to the ultra-dominant force of PREMA.

2020 recruit Liam Lawson has already talked up the potential to fight for the title again with the Italian side, and says the team are even more equipped to do so this year. Signing the Red Bull Junior, who is F3’s third highest returning driver, was certainly a statement of intent.

Especially considering they signed the second highest returning driver as well, in Renault prospect Max Fewtrell.

Could they go one step further this season?

READ MORE: Lawson and Hitech ready “to take the fight to Prema”

Can Sargeant step up?

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Following on from his impressive FIA F3 World Cup showing, where he finished third, Logan Sargeant has been handed a shot in title-winning machinery. The American racer didn’t enjoy the greatest of debuts in F3 at Carlin, with the American ending up 19th in the standings, but his performance in Macau showcased his true potential.

Lining up for 2019 drivers’ and teams’ champions PREMA, Sargeant will have no where to hide. He’ll be expected to hit the ground running in Spielberg and prove that Macau was no flash in the pan.

Is Vesti the real deal?

Frederik Vesti is arguably the most exciting rookie driver on the grid this season, stepping up on the back of dominating the Formula Regional European Championship, his record of 13 wins and seven podiums from 24 races speaks for itself.

Joining the reigning champions will certainly give him a helping hand, but stepping up and instantly performing is no mean feat, especially when surrounded by second year talent such as Red Bull junior Liam Lawson and Renault protégée Max Fewtrell at Hitech. Not to forget the aforementioned Sargeant and his exciting rookie teammate Oscar Piastri.

Finishing 10th at the FIA F3 World Cup in November, on his debut in the F3 car, will have certainly boosted his confidence. But, he’ll need to do even better than that if he is to challenge for the title.

READ MORE: Macau experience key for confidence, says Vesti

A long-awaited racing return

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And finally, the season is upon us… It’s been eight months since the FIA F3 World Cup in Austria, and nine since the F3 season finale in Sochi… The drivers haven’t even turned a wheel in anger for three months, since the pre-season tests in Bahrain, so how will they cope with that length of break?

The initial Free practice session will be pivotal. The grid will have 45 minutes to get up to speed before the all-important first Qualifying session.

Whichever driver hits the ground running in Spielberg will have a key advantage though. With two races in a row at the Red Bull Ring, that opens the door for someone to make the most of the rustiness of the grid and create an early lead in the title hunt.