2021 Spanish Grand Prix: The F3 debrief

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Formula 3 Spain Race Start
Image: Prema Racing

At long last the Formula 3 season has begun with the Spanish Grand Prix. The 30-strong field of young talent looked raring to go in the new-look format for 2021. It’s hard to say who was happier at F3’s return – the drivers or the GP Grandstand team…

Jim Kimberley – “So many standout moments”

What a thrilling trio of races to start 2021 these were. And each had its own feel thanks to the contentious double reverse grid format. The two appetiser Saturday races were bonkers, while Race 3, the defacto ‘Feature Race’ rightly dished out the big points.

So many standout moments to choose from across the three to mention. Sargeant almost reaching the podium for Charouz in Race 1 only a few days after securing a drive showed “bouncebackability“. The leaders repeatedly nerfing each other in Race 2 was entertaining impatience. Hauger’s Race 3 victory demonstrated dominance by the kid who is surely the title favourite.

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But the best tale of them all belongs to Juan Manuel Correa. Of all the hundreds of points scored by racers this weekend, Correa’s single one for his P10 Race 2 finish is the standout. Welcome back to the F1 weekend Juan Manuel. What an inspiration.

Gareth Winslade – “Raw racing fun”

All three F3 races this weekend delivered superb action.  Battles for the lead and drama were the order of the day on Saturday and Sunday.  But it also showed us the rough edges to the drivers that will be polished and honed in years to come.  The racecraft was generally good but the collisions in Turn 2 were costly mistakes.

Alexander Smolyar was not a name on my radar prior to the weekend but SMP have a decent history of promoting good drivers at this level.  I’m looking forward to seeing more races from this young Russian driver.

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We expected to see Dennis Hauger at the top and we weren’t disappointed.  Another driver to have a Race 2 crash in Turn 2 but the Norwegian was certainly looking strong.  Unlike his teammate Arthur Leclerc.  I was not expecting to see him so far down the order.  Likewise Chovet for that matter.  The Jenzers seemed to struggle all weekend.

So happy to see Juan Manuel Correa back in a racing car this weekend.  Scoring points was a fantastic achievement as well.

Jacob Phillips – “I’m starting to really enjoy this new format”

I was thoroughly entertained by the opening to the F3 season after waiting since September without it. Grand Prix weekends have felt a little bare without feeder series so it was great to have it back.

For me, the feel-good moment of the weekend was seeing Juan Manuel Correa behind the wheel of a car and he put in some decent drives to mark his comeback. Prema in recent years have always had the upper hand in feeder series so it was no surprise to see one of their drivers nab pole in the form of Red Bull junior Dennis Hauger.

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First blood went to Smolyar who overtook reverse grid polesitter Jonny Edgar in the opening exchanges to take the spoils in the first race. Much like the F2 in Bahrain, the action really heated up in the second race. After some deliberation, I’m starting to really enjoy this new format.

Olli Caldwell took the spoils in this one after starting a lowly 7th on the grid. Prior to the Brit taking the lead, there were no less than two separate incidents between the two lead battles. David Schumacher, Enzo Fittipaldi, Matteo Nannini and Dennis Hauger all coming to grief at turn two. Hauger righted these wrongs in race 3 to show why he is one of the championship favourites.

There were strong showings throughout the field, with Victor Martins showing a lot of promise as he looks to impress the Alpine outfit. Arthur Leclerc was one to watch this weekend and despite some bad luck with the puncture, I expect more from Charles’ little brother in France. After a solid weekend of action, Hauger walks away from Catalunya with the championship lead and I expect him to keep hold of it right through to Austin.

Thiemo Albers-Daly – “F3 set to be another great season”

Formula 3 finally got underway for the first time in 2021 this past weekend. The season began in Barcelona with three solid races that gave the fans a good idea of what to expect moving forwards.

This particular track doesn’t always give fans the best racing to watch in a calendar year. Even Formula 3 struggled with it a bit last year. This weekend’s racing was a surprise to be sure, but a welcome one.

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Even though Sunday’s race was more of a procession than would have been liked, Saturday gave us plenty of action and had several fights and crashes for the lead of the race. If Barcelona is a tease of what’s to come this season in Formula 3, it looks set to be another great season!

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