There’s no time to pause for our stars on the Road to F1, as back-to-back weekends sees the FIA Formula 3 Championship head to Spielberg for the fifth round of the 2022 season.
The hills will soon be alive with the sound of racing on one of the shortest circuits on the calendar. The Red Bull Ring’s limited number of corners means the drivers will have to act fast, as the Championship moves over the halfway mark. Although there’s only four race weekends left to go, it’s still all to play for….
WHAT TO EXPECT
Championship contenders Victor Martins and Isack Hadjar fought hard in the Sprint Race, with the Hitech Grand Prix driver coming out on top. Meanwhile, Arthur Leclerc put his Qualifying demons to bed and claimed his first victory of the 2022 season. However, in Qualifying, it was Carlin rookie Zak O’Sullivan who stunned his rivals to claim his first pole position in F3 by 0.027s – and the team’s first too on their joint home weekend.
In spite of a mixed weekend in Silverstone, Martins retains his lead at the top of the Drivers’ Championship. However, there’s a new face in P2 as Leclerc soars up the order from fifth to second. Closing the gap to the leading duo is our highest-placed rookie Hadjar on 68, who stole the win from Martins in the final laps of the Sprint Race. Roman Stanek drops to fourth with 61 points, ahead of Jak Crawford on 60 points.
With two drivers in the top five, PREMA Racing strengthens its grip on the Teams’ Championship on 175. ART Grand Prix holds on to second, as Hitech's solid weekend promotes it above reigning Champions Trident – with less than 15 points separating third from fifth-placed MP Motorsport.
Lastly, after a one-round absence, Alexander Smolyar returns behind the wheel of his MP car around the Red Bull Ring.
FROM THE GRID - Zane Maloney, Trident
“I'm really looking forward to racing at the Red Bull Ring. It’s not been the season I wanted so far, with an incident last weekend in Silverstone as well. So, we need to get the championship rolling and get some good rounds in.
“I'm looking forward to starting off strong with the team straightaway from Free Practice. I got a podium at the Red Bull Ring in Formula Regional last year, so the goal is to be back on the podium. I love the track so it's going to be interesting. It’s also going to be quite cold, and the track isn't very abrasive, so we'll be doing a few push laps in Qualifying which is not normal in F3 so that will give us a bit more time to find the speed.
“It's going to be very close because there are not many corners at this circuit, and in the race, it will be very difficult because a lot of the time there's a DRS train. We need a good Qualifying session to be out front and then hopefully the weekend will be good from there if we are able to qualify well.
“I'm not sure about how much overtaking there's going to be, so the goal is to do good in Qualifying, which we have for most of the rounds this year. I’m really looking forward to it and happy to get driving again.”
LAST TIME OUT - SILVERSTONE
Over a month since their last appearance in Barcelona, all 30 drivers were chomping at the bit to get back out on track and none more so than Zak O’Sullivan. It’s been a challenging start to the season for the 17-year-old British driver, but the familiar surroundings of Silverstone and a well setup Carlin gave him the perfect package to hold of Arthur Leclerc and Zane Maloney to snatch his first pole in the Championship – much to the delight of the home fans.
Determined to make amends after struggling in the blustery Friday session, Isack Hadjar left nothing on the table as he climbed from fourth to the top step of the podium to claim his second win of his 2022 campaign. A three-way fight on the penultimate lap saw ART’s Victor Martins forced to go on the defensive as his fellow Frenchman swooped around him to take victory, as Van Amersfoort Racing’s Reece Ushijima kept himself out of trouble and on the leaders’ tails to secure his first F3 podium in third.
A frantic Feature Race followed on Sunday as Leclerc reigned victorious for the first time this year. However, it wasn’t the lights-to-flag win he might have expected as O’Sullivan forced him to work for it and fought him hard all the way to the chequered flag – separated by just 0.051 across the line. The pair were joined by PREMA teammate and fellow home hero Ollie Bearman.
Making an appearance for the first time this season. F3 will be using the red-walled soft compound tyres for Round 5.
Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director
“With the Red Bull Ring being one of the less demanding circuits for the tyres on the Formula 3 calendar, we have selected the softest tyre in the range, the P Zero Red soft tyre, for this weekend. This is a step softer than the nomination for 2021 and will provide drivers with optimum performance over one lap while ensuring that they will still have some management to do in the races: especially with the rear tyres, which were redesigned for this year to degrade faster and make the cars more challenging to drive. With such a short lap, traffic will be a factor with such a large field in Qualifying and managing it well will be crucial to extracting the maximum performance from the tyres.”