If everything goes their way, PREMA Racing could have all three Formula 3 champions in the same paddock at Sochi, with current leader Dennis Hauger hoping to follow in the tyre tracks of PREMA’s 2019 and 2020 champs Robert Shwartzman and Oscar Piastri.
That would make for quite the photograph. But it’s one that Jack Doohan and Trident will hope to infiltrate. The Australian trails Hauger by 43 points with one round and three races to go.
Here’s everything that you need to know ahead of the mega season finale.
WHAT’S THE SITUATION GOING INTO THE FINAL ROUND?
It’s a straight shoot-out between Hauger and Doohan heading into Round 7 with the duo’s consistency separating them from the rest. Hauger in particular has been relentless on his run to the title, never once falling from first place in the Standings. He’s only scored fewer than 32 points once.
The Norwegian’s sole off-round came in Spa-Francorchamps, where he qualified 14th on a difficult weekend for PREMA in general. But even then, he still managed to claw back two points finishes and departed with a 25-point advantage – and that was after Doohan had won two races that same weekend.
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He only had to wait a week for a shot at redemption in Zandvoort and clasped it with both hands, taking pole for the third time on the Friday and a fourth win of the season in Race 3 on the Sunday. Those performances earned him a 43-point advantage - he’d only need to increase that by one in Race 1 to confirm the title.
Doohan is on the back of two high-scoring rounds. With 61 points and two wins, he’s been able to break away from Clément Novalak, Victor Martins and Frederik Vesti, but he hasn’t quite closed the gap on Hauger.
His lowest hall of points in a single round is 14, not on the level of Hauger, but not to be sniffed at.
WHAT ARE THEIR CREDENTIALS?
Doohan and Hauger arrive with comparable backstories. Both are second-year drivers who endured a difficult F3 rookie campaign. Hauger took just 14 points with Hitech Grand Prix, while Doohan failed to score any with HWA RACELAB.
Both switched teams ahead of 2021 and look like entirely different drivers. 2019 Italian F4 champion Hauger has oozed class throughout the season. His partnership with PREMA has been devastating and he now holds the record for most wins in a single campaign of FIA F3. He’s also only two podiums away from Shwartzman’s record of 10 during 2019.
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The Norwegian has been a master of Qualifying, finishing in the top two in five out of six rounds. He consistently converts it too, finishing in the top two in Race 3 every single time he’s started from the front row.
It’s been a similar case for two-time Asian F3 runner-up Doohan, who’s never qualified outside of the top 7 and has taken podiums from Race 3 four out of six times. PREMA have dominated the past two seasons, so the fact that Doohan has managed to keep up with the formidable PREMA/Hauger combination is something of an achievement in itself.
They’ve also both consistently beaten their teammates. Hauger has 101 points on Olli Caldwell and 126 on Arthur Leclerc, while Doohan has 28 more than Novalak and 95 over David Schumacher.
HOW MANY POINTS ARE ON OFFER?
Sixty five. So there really is all to play for. Given he only needs to increase his advantage by one point between Qualifying and Race 1, things are very much in Hauger’s hands, but if Doohan can finish ahead of the PREMA racer in both sessions, then he stands every chance.
The current weekend format makes things a lot more interesting too, with so many points on offer, as well as two reverse grids. At Spa, Doohan sliced Hauger’s advantage from 63 points to 25, so he’s well aware of how quickly things can turn around.
READ MORE: PREMA boss Rosin calls for ‘one last push’ ahead of title showdown in Sochi
It’s highly unlikely that either will take maximum points, but Doohan proved in Belgium that a double win is very much a possibility. Add pole and fastest laps into the mix and that’s already a potential 48 points, without taking one of the two Saturday races into consideration.
It’s Hauger’s title to lose, but Doohan certainly won’t be giving up. A point echoed by his team manager, Giacomo Ricci: “We will push as hard as we can until the very last race when we see the final chequered flag of the season.”