F3 2021 kicks off this weekend for the first round of eight at Barcelona. An exciting calendar of tracks awaits the 30 drivers and 10 teams. Straight away you can see the big difference between F2 and F1. F3 teams have three drivers each. The other main difference on the team side for F2 fans is that Jenzer Motorsport are in the place of UNI-Virtuosi. All the others are the same as in the F2 championship. Here are the big stories of interest to watch throughout this weekend and the season.
Juan-Manuel Correa – Feel good seat of the summer
The 2019 F2 race at Spa-Francorchamps was marred by the horrific accident involving Anthoine Hubert and Juan-Manuel Correa. Hubert lost his life in the accident and Correa suffered such awful injuries to his legs that it is amazing that he can walk. Two years of surgeries and medical expertise later, Correa will be on the grid with ART Grand Prix this weekend. It’s the most heartwarming of returns and reminiscent of Robert Kubica’s miracle F1 return.
Logan Sargeant’s career lifeline
Logan Sargeant came within one race finish of winning the 2020 F3 title following a titanic tussle with Oscar Piastri and Theo Pourchaire. The news after the season that he was scrabbling around for a GT drive for 2021 was terrible. How one of the brightest US talents couldn’t assemble a budget for F2 or F3 is incomprehensible to me. Fortunately he’s been handed a lifeline by Charouz and has shown his pace in pre-season testing. Hopefully he can make the most of this opportunity.
Red Bull vs Alpine vs Mercedes vs Ferrari
The Driver Academies of the big F1 teams are well represented on the F3 grid once again this season. Red Bull are running an astonishing 1/6th of the grid! Expected title protagonist Dennis Hauger is in the Prema team. Australian Jack Crawford is with Trident, while Jak Crawford and Ayumu Iwasa are with Hitech. Also on the grid with Carlin is Jonny Edgar. People are very quick to criticise Red Bull’s sometimes abrupt dropping of drivers. But there is no argument that they support more drivers and give more opportunities than any other team. For which they should absolutely be lauded.
Meanwhile, Ferrari are represented by Arthur Leclerc at Prema and Mercedes have Frederik Vesti at ART. Leclerc finished 2nd in the 2020 FREC championship while Vesti is looking to improve on his 4th place in F3 last season.
Alpine have Victor Martins and Caio Collet racing for them. Both drivers will be with MP Motorsport and both have had very strong careers to date. Martins is the reigning, and last ever Formula Renault Eurocup champion, and Collet was the vice-champion.
Another Schumacher in F3 2021!
Hoping to follow in his cousin’s tyre tracks and make it to F1 is David Schumacher. David is the son of multiple Grand Prix winner Ralf Schumacher. Ralf obviously is brother to F1 legend Michael Schumacher. Who is Mick’s dad Got it? Cool!
Schumacher had a low key season last year racing for Charouz and Carlin. Hopefully his results will improve this year to justify continuing in either F3 or F2.
The F3 2021 title fight
Hauger and Vesti as second season drivers in two of the best teams are surely the favourites for the year. If Charouz can deliver on the car side then Sargeant is a great prospect too. He’ll be eager to get to F2 and reunite with Piastri and Pourchaire.
Many of the rookies are exciting prospects as well. We’ve already mentioned Martins, Leclerc and Collet but you also have friend of the site, Pierre-Louis Chovet, in his Jenzer too. Chovet nearly beat Guanyu Zhou to the F3 Asia title this year after all.
GP Grandstand’s F3 2021 Summary
It’s going to be a brilliant season of F3 in 2021. So many talented young drivers trying to get to F2 and F1 afterwards. Whether any of them can do an Ocon and jump straight from F3 to F1 seems doubtful. F2 has rather firmly established itself now as the finishing school of choice. But the two categories are so similar now in terms of cornering speed that a talented driver could make that step.
We’ll be dissecting all the action on Talking F’All next week.