FIA Formula 3 European Championship 2015


No passing through my dirty air please
So as we move into the European season for motorsport one of the first series to kick off is Formula 3 European Championship. It open with a round at Silverstone in 2 weeks time with another 10 rounds following after that mostly following the DTM series about. The series is in its 4th year in its current format after being reborn and spearheaded by ex Formula 1 driver Gerhard Berger. It is fastly becoming the first step for F1 hopefuls to blood themselves and as we saw last year with Max Verstappen some drivers can jump straight from this into the big leagues. There are 3 races over a weekend and as its a spec series its usually close wheel to wheel stuff. European viewers can watch nearly all the races live with it being shown on Motors TV (free to view!) in the UK and on NTV throughout the rest of Europe. 35 drivers of 18 nationalities will compete making it a true international series.

The series is one that is mostly dominated by rookies which means the form book is not exactly reliable but we can take a good guess at who might be at the front. The top returning driver in 2015 is Antonio Giovinazzi who finished 6th in his first season last year taking two race wins. He was always on the pace last year so you would expect to see him at the front again. Another returning winner is Swede Felix Rosenquivst who has been an F3 driver for quite some time now and I'm unsure if he'll figure or not. The person I would consider the favourite has to be Canadian Ferrari Academy driver Lance Stroll driving for the Prema Powerteam. I watched Stroll in the New Zeland based TRS series in January which is used by a lot of these drivers to warm up for the coming season and he was quick, consistent and mature(for a 17 year old!) - which is probably why he won the title. His team mate Brandon Maisano was also in the TRS and looked as quick as Stroll but didn't quite get the results. I have to mention little George Russell as one of the favourites too. After watching him win the BRDC F4 last year and jump into a Eurocup race and win it as a guest driver I'm quite a fan of his skill. McLaren share my view as he won their Young achievers award last year. Someone I've not heard of as a motoring racing driver before is Charles Leclerc. I know the name because it was the name of one of Napoleon's best generals but I don't think they are related. Anyway Leclerc has been topping the times in testing so he has to be amongst the favourites.

Dark horses? Well young Indian driver Arjun Maini is a good bet. Known as the Bangalore Bullet he got into motor racing through Force India's '1 in a million' driver finding scheme. Maini came runner up to Russell in the BRDC F4 last year and came runner up to Stroll in the TRS series earlier this year. With a bit more luck he could have won both of them, he certainly had the speed. He landed the drive in F3 at Van Amersfoort off the back of his performances in the TRS and he keeps on surprising people with how quick he is. Another driver who might be worth a punt is Pietro Fittipaldi. Obviously its his family name that is opening doors for him but from what I've seen of him he is quick and I think he could ruffle a few feathers. Better mention Marvin Kirchhöfer too as the German looked more than capable of getting results in GP3 last year.

European F3 has a trio of American drivers this year who are all probably hoping to attract the attention of Mr Haas in order to get a leg up to the big time. One of them is Santino Ferrucci who comes highly rated and was backed by McLaren at one point. Having seen Ferrucci he is quick but tends to get himself into accidents. Also flying the stars and stripes is Gustavo Menezes, who scored a couple of podiums in the series at Spa last year, and Ryan Tveter who I have to admit I know nothing about!

Brits to watch are the returning Jake Dennis, Matt Rio and the Scottish driver Sam Mcleod. Having seen Mcleod race I expect him to be there or there abouts too. On his day he is up there with the best of them. The Brit the media attention will be on is Callum Illot as he is in the Red Bull junior programme. Illott is straight out of karting and judging by his performance in TRS has a lot to learn.

So will anyone be watching? Have to admit I only got into it last year as not bothered with much F3 before but the racing is really good so it drew me in. If last years driver quality is anything to go by it will be worth a watch.

Teams and Drivers:

Prema Powerteam
Jake Dennis | Lance Stroll
Brandon Maisano | Felix Rosenqvist

Jagonya Ayam with Carlin
Antonio Giovinazzi | Gustavo Menezes | Ryan Tveter

kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport
Santino Ferrucci | Michele Beretta
Mikkel Jensen | Maximilian Günther | Kang Ling

Van Amersfoort Racing
Charles Leclerc | Alessio Lorandi | Arjun Maini

Tatiana Calderón | George Russell | Callum Ilott

West-Tec F3
Fabian Schiller

Fortec Motorsport
Pietro Fittipaldi | Matthew Rao
Hongwei Cao | Zhi Cong Li

Nicolas Beer | Marvin Kirchhöfer

ThreeBond with T-Sport
Julio Moreno

Double R Racing
Nicolas Pohler | Matt Solomon

Dorian Boccolacci | Alexander Albon

Nabil Jeffri | Sérgio Sette Câmara | Sam Macleod
Mahaveer Raghunathan | Markus Pommer
Coverage of the first race starts at 1pm on Motors TV today if anyone is interested.

Roseqvist on pole from Giovinazzi, Dennis and Russell.
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Thanks to FB's timely reminder I've seen both races now.

Could be a bit of a tasty rivalry between Rooster Russell and General Leclarc this year having come together and fallen out already.
Even worse after the crash the marshalls flipped the car back over, dropping it from a great height, with the driver still inside! Luckily no broken spine but ouch.
He's bloody lucky he walked away from it. I think I'd be watching F3 on TV through my fingers. It's different live when you're there with a team, because the chances you'll be in the right spot to see the scary crashes are pretty slim, but on televised F3... sheesh...

Edited to add: Buemi's 2006 crash at Lausitzring ended in a similar way.
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Catching up belatedly on this year's Macau F3 race: it was a cracker.

Here's the final lap. As it begins, leader Sergio Sette Camara has drilled his tyres and is hanging on ahead of Ferdinand Habsburg (no, not that one. But related!). Maximilian Gunther is third and leads the closing pack, followed by Brits Lando Norris and Dan Ticktum.

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