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.”
Ghiotto claims maiden win in Spielberg thriller
Charles Leclerc decides thrilling three-way battle in his favour
Season race: 13 of 33
Winner: Charles Leclerc (Van Amersfoort Racing)
Pole position: Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam)
Weather: overcast, drying track
After a thrilling battle, Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc (Van Amersfoort Racing) came out on top in the 13th season race of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. Thus, the rookie driver also took over the lead in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship drivers’ standings. Second place at the demanding 7.004 kilometres long Spa-Francorchamps Formula 1 circuit went to Swede Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam) while Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam wiuth Carlin), who came to Spa as the points’ leader, retired. Rookie driver Alexander Albon (Signature) scored his first FIA Formula 3 European Championship podium finish by coming home third, also securing the first top three result for his Signature team since the outfit’s Formula 3 return.
At the start of the race, Antonio Giovinazzi took the lead, but he wasn’t able to pull away from his rivals Felix Rosenqvist, Jake Dennis (Prema Powerteam) and Charles Leclerc. Later on, Dennis dropped back, but Leclerc and especially Rosenqvist kept the leader under pressure. Rosenqvist and Giovinazzi alternated in the lead several times, until the two tangled in a duel. A few metres later, the Italian parked his car with a puncture while the Swede took the escape road and continued. Charles Leclerc took over the lead and brought it home safely, Rosenqvist took the chequered flag in second place.
Third place went to Alexander Albon, so that the driver from Thailand was allowed to take part in an FIA Formula 3 European Championship podium ceremony for the first time. Towards the halfway point of the race, he beat his rivals Jake Dennis and Santino Ferrucci (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) in the battle for fourth and moved up to third following Giovinazzi’s retirement. Ferrucci and Dennis ended up fourth and fifth from George Russell (Carlin), Mikkel Jensen (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport), Pietro Fittipaldi (Fortec Motorsports), Fabian Schiller (Team West-Tec F3) and Alessio Lorandi (Van Amersfoort Racing). German driver Schiller, who is living only 150 kilometres away from Spa-Francorchamps, thus scored his first-ever FIA Formula 3 European Championship points.
Charles Leclerc (Van Amersfoort Racing): “I was happy that I made a very good start. Things got a little bit close with Jake Dennis at Eau Rouge, so that I backed off first, only to overtake him soon after that. Then, I didn’t want to take too many risks in the battle for the lead with Antonio and Felix. Somehow, I saw the accident between the two of them coming, because it was really close between them.”
Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam): “My start wasn’t very good, because I was on the damp part of the track. In the battle with Antonio, there was contact. I was happy that I could continue and still save second place.”
Alexander Albon (Signature): “Being on the FIA Formula 3 European Championship podium for the first time is great, especially as I had an accident in second qualifying yesterday and ended up last. In the opening laps, I drove rather cautiously, because I first wanted to find out where the good places to overtake were. My car was fast throughout the weekend: I reckon we have been able to make another step forward
The Host and Nasir give their Austrian Grand Prix preview.
GP2 Rapax driver quickest in opening session at Spielberg
Formula 3 European Championship ready for the Spa-Francorchamps challenge
Track length: 7.004 kilometres
Lap record FIA F3 EC: Max Verstappen 2014 (2:11.111 minutes)
Distance: 15 laps
The fifth round of the 2015 FIA Formula 3 European Championship season will be held this weekend at the tradition-rich circuit of Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium. With Eau Rouge, the 7.004 Ardennes rollercoaster features one of the most famous sections in the motor-racing world and the young drivers are keen on mastering this challenge. Just in his home event at Monza, Italy’s championship leader Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) failed to secure a podium – for the first time this year – so, he is determined to make it back to the rostrum, in Belgium. Tatiana Calderón (Carlin), the only woman in the field, has particularly fond memories of Spa-Francorchamps.
In the current season, Calderón who scored a total of 29 points last year still is waiting for her first points. So, it’s the same situation as last year when the 22 Colombian also travelled to Belgium with no points on her tally – to score her first points at the particularly challenging circuit of Spa-Francorchamps by finishing fifth in the second round of the meeting. On the following six race weekends, the fast Colombian established as regular top-10 contender and always left the race venues with additional points under her belt.
Meanwhile, Antonio Giovinazzi, Charles Leclerc (Van Amersfoort Racing) and Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam) are battling for the positions on the very top of the championship standings, with the gap between the three drivers amounting to a total of just 22 points. At the same time, Jake Dennis (Prema Powerteam) in fourth position works hard on closing the gap to the leading trio. The 19-year old Britain is the only one of these four drivers who already secured an FIA Formula 3 European Championship podium at Spa-Francorchamps. Even slightly more successful in last year’s FIA Formula 3 European Championship appearance at the Ardennes track than Dennis, who clinched a third place, was Gustavo Menezes (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin). The 20-year old American with Brazilian roots, currently 10th in the championship, secured two third positions last year, thus being the driver with the best Spa result under his belt on the 2015 grid.
Tatiana Calderón (Carlin): “I always look forward to Spa-Francorchamps as this circuit is just fantastic. Eau Rouge is particularly special although you can go flat out, there, with a Formula 3 car. The entire track is extremely varied – and I am talking not only about the traditionally very changeable Ardennes weather. There are slow, medium fast and several fast sections. You have to find a good set-up for your car and a suiting style of driving – a good compromise between aggressiveness and smoothness. And I think that’s what I succeeded in doing particularly well, last year. My goal for the forthcoming weekend: to score points as you are clearly more relaxed regarding the tasks to come when you have got the first points on your tally. This worked very well for me in 2014 and I hope I will be able to repeat it now.”