CEO Bruno Michel looks back at an eventful opening round of the 2021 season and picks out his key topics from Barcelona.

As well as discussing the new format, Michel praises the performances of the second-year drivers, explains why he believes the rookies will up their game, and highlights the return of Juan Manuel Correa.

A SUCCESFUL NEW FORMAT

For the first time, we had three races over the course of the weekend, and like in Formula 2, it worked very well. Both reverse grids on Saturday provided the fans with strong races, with a lot of overtakes throughout the field. The fight for the win in Race 2 in particular was amazing, at a track where overtaking is difficult. Eventually, the drivers with more experience came out on top, but we saw some promising young talent at the front who should catch up quickly and also fight for victories soon.

Second year drivers dominated Round 1

BALACING EXPERIENCE AND CONSISTENCY

The 2021 grid is a very interesting one: on the one hand, we have some very strong second-year drivers, and on the other hand, we have some extremely promising rookies.

Dennis Hauger is amongst those who came into this new season as an early title contender. With pole position, a win and the fastest lap in Race 3, the Norwegian has delivered what was expected of him so far, although he lacked consistency on Saturday. The same goes for Alex Smolyar, who claimed victory in the opening race but failed to score in the following two.

Meanwhile, Olli Caldwell and Clément Novalak have taken points in all three races, with the Briton winning Race 2 and the Frenchman stepping on the podium in Race 1. Frederik Vesti is also one of the five drivers in Round 1 to have scored three times in Barcelona. Add to the list of “ones to watch” Jack Doohan and Matteo Nannini, whose solid pace took them both to a podium finish. We know that consistency is key in Formula 3, especially with the new racing format. After Round 1, it looks like the title race is wide open.

MP MOTORSPORT’S ROOKIES LEAD THE WAY

The other two drivers to have scored in all three races last weekend are MP Motorsport’s teammates Victor Martins and Caio Collet. Both rookies are members of the Alpine Academy and had already showed some strong pace during the pre-season tests.

Martins and Collet claimed one podium finish each last weekend. After Barcelona, they lead newcomers Jonny Edgar, Ayumu Iwasa and Jak Crawford in the standings, who also all scored points in Round 1.

The opening race weekend was more challenging for the rookies than it was for the more experienced drivers, but they showed great potential. It will be interesting to see how they will perform in Le Castellet next month.

MP Motorsport rookies Victor Martins (pictured) and Collet impressed CEO Bruno Michel

FIRST TIMES

There were many first times to celebrate last weekend, on top of the introduction of the new racing format. All three drivers who claimed victories - Smolyar, Caldwell and Hauger - were first time race-winners. It was Jack Doohan, Caio Collet and Victor Martins’ first F3 podiums too. Hauger also claimed a maiden F3 pole position. Add to that the fact that Doohan, Jonny Edgar, Ayumu Iwasa and Jak Crawford scored their first F3 points. Already half of the grid has taken points. Bring on Round 2!

A WORD ON THE TEAMS

PREMA Racing outrageously dominated the first two F3 seasons. In the first round of the 2021 campaign, they took two wins with Caldwell and Hauger, along with pole position and fastest lap. Naturally, they are sitting at the top of the Standings. However, Trident, MP Motorsport and ART Grand Prix have also scored big points in Barcelona, showing the reigning champions that they are ready for the Title fight.

HWA RACELAB, Carlin Buzz Racing and Charouz Racing System had a more up and down weekend, but there are some lessons they can carry over to Round 2 in France in June. I expect them to keep fighting for points-finishes as the rest of the season unfolds.

Jenzer Motorsport and Campos Racing’s first round was challenging as they left Barcelona pointless, but knowing how hard working both teams are, I am confident the results will follow soon.

PREMA won two of the opening three races

JUAN MANUEL CORREA’S COMEBACK

I am certain that I am not the only one who was happy to see JM back on the grid. His challenging return to racing has been long, and his comeback is admirable. I was eager to see what he could do in the opening round, and to see him score his first point in Race 2 was fantastic and heart-warming. Let’s see how the rest of his season unfolds.