Dennis continues strong performance and takes fourth season win
Season race: 15 of 33
Winner: Jake Dennis (Prema Powerteam)
Pole position: Jake Dennis (Prema Powerteam)
Weather: overcast, drying track
British driver Jake Dennis (Prema Powerteam) won the 15th season race of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. At the 7.004 kilometres long Formula 1 circuit of Spa-Francorchamps, he finished ahead of the two rookie drivers Charles Leclerc (Van Amersfoort Racing) and George Russell (Carlin), who came second and third respectively. Because his fiercest rival Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) only finished 15th, Monegasque Leclerc extended his lead in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship drivers’ standings. The race at the roller-coaster circuit in the Ardennes provided first-class entertainment for the spectators with many overtaking manoeuvres and the first kilometres in the lead of a race for Tatiana Calderón (Carlin), the only female driver in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship field.
At the start, Mikkel Jensen (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) took the lead from Jake Dennis, while the first drivers already spun off the track that was still damp. On lap two, Dorian Boccolacci (Signature) and Sérgio Sette Câmara (Motopark) collided while in the top five. The incident brought the safety car out. At the restart, Jensen held on to his first place, but soon came under pressure by Tatiana Calderón. The Columbian, who had the advantage of rain tyres at that point, moved up into the lead on lap five and remained in the top three for a few laps. Only on lap nine, she had to give in as the track became too dry for rain tyres. The Carlin driver, who was the first-ever lady racer to lead an FIA Formula 3 European Championship race, headed into the pits for a tyre change and eventually crossed the finish line in 18th place.
Meanwhile, Jake Dennis and Charles Leclerc were able to pull away out in front as Markus Pommer (Motopark) and Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam) collided in the battle for third place. Race control showed the black flag to the German, who had previously already been issued a drive-through penalty. Antonio Giovinazzi inherited third place, but wasn’t able to hold on to it for long. The Italian had to make a pit stop due to a loose front wing and dropped out of the top ten. Thus, third place went to Callum Ilott (Carlin), who lost it to his team-mate George Russell soon after that. Russell defended his place until the chequered flag was out while Ilott had to make do with fourth. Rosenqvist, Brandon Maïsano (Prema Powerteam), Alessio Lorandi (Van Amersfoort Racing), Maximilian Günther (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport), Alexander Albon (Signature) and Pietro Fittipaldi (Fortec Motorsports) rounded out the top ten after an action-packed race.
Jake Dennis (Prema Powerteam): “I have to admit that I had expected more safety car interventions. On lap five, I started sliding at the end of the long straight and Mikkel Jensen slid into the tyre stacks next to me. However, there was no contact between the two of us. After that, I was first until Tatiana overtook me. However, my engineer informed me that she was running with wet tyres. Soon after that, her tyres were worn out and I was able to move up into first place again. Then, it was all about not making any mistakes and safely bringing the car home.”
Charles Leclerc (Van Amersfoort Racing): “After things didn’t go well for us in qualifying, I hadn’t expected such good results from the races. I am really happy that I was even able to extend my points’ lead today. With five laps remaining, I locked up under braking twice and I am sure I lost time. Perhaps, this was exactly the time I missed to put Jake under pressure once more.”
George Russell (Carlin): “I wasn’t happy with qualifying, but this race was great. My start was good and on the next laps, I concentrated on avoiding any mistakes. Before the start, I considered using wet tyres, but eventually, I opted for slicks after all. That was the right decision.”