2021 French Grand Prix: The F3 debrief

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We might’ve expected Formula 3 to put on a good show at Le Castellet for the French Grand Prix, but Race 1 surpassed all expectations. F3 treated us to three wildly different races this weekend. Here’s what the GP Grandstand team thought about Formula 3’s flurry of fun in France (try and say that fast).

Jim Kimberley – “A lead battle worthy of F1”

The triple race format is seemingly serving up two greats and a dud each feeder series round. It was a great result for Arthur Leclerc in a redemption race verging on unbelievable (P30 to a win?!), but Race 2 was otherwise rather forgettable.

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Fortunately, though, we had Races 1 & 3! The weekend finale set to a backdrop of heavy rain somehow had no safety cars, and Jack Doohan emerged as a worthy winner. His first F3 win will be a special moment for the Aussie looking to step out of his father’s shadow.

Yet Race 1 is the race we’ll remember at the end of the season. Aleksandr Smolyar vs Victor Martins was a lead battle worthy of F1. And to think Ayumu Iwasa, Logan Sargeant, and Calan Williams were leading throughout the race too! And somehow, after everything, Dennis Hauger walks away with a larger championship lead than he entered France with. Great stuff, F3, I can’t wait for Austria.

Jacob Phillips – “Victor Martins cemented as a contender”

In what feels like forever, F3 returned to action in what was a thrilling weekend in Paul Ricard. Contrary to previous runnings of the format, the first race provided spectacular entertainment with no less than five different leaders throughout.

Vesti, despite grabbing pole, failed to ignite and never looked convincing in France. Smolyar won from 6th on the grid and seriously impressed this weekend. Victor Martins, who eventually finished 2nd was most consistent throughout the weekend and has really cemented himself as a championship contender.

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I thought Arthur Leclerc had an impressive weekend picking up his maiden victory despite suffering a puncture in qualifying. He came through from 30th to 12th to secure reverse grid pole. The second race may have been uneventful, but it is what the Monegasque needed to re-ignite his season.

Race 3 provided some wet stuff with Jack Doohan adding himself to the list of potential championship contenders with an impressive victory. The race was entertaining but didn’t provide the usual drama that a rain-affected race normally brings.

Thiemo Albers-Daly – “One of the best Formula 3 races”

Formula 3 returned after a long break and boy oh boy was it worth the wait. Le Castellet is known to Formula 1 fans as not always being the most exciting race on the calendar. But apparently, Formula 3 didn’t get that memo – which was great for all of us Formula 3 fans.

The first Sprint Race of the weekend provided us with one of the best Formula 3 races to have ever graced our presence. From the very start right up until the last corner on the final lap, there was action all over the place. There was never an outright leader of the race as the lead of the race kept changing every few laps or so and in spectacular style.

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A shout out goes to Reshad de Gerus who made the bold move to switch from the wet tyre compound to slicks in Sunday’s Race 3. Despite the fact that he came out of the pits at the back of the pack with a lot of track to cover before he could even think about overtaking, he still managed to not only do this but to make his way up to 19th place by the end of the race.

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