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. Now that the racing is over, here are the key takeaways from Spain that you need to know…
The first victory of the year went to the Russian driver who drives for ART this year. After some initial battles early on in the race with Edgar and Collet, Smolyar took the lead and managed the race from there. Struggling towards the end of the race with his worn tyres, Smolyar was saved by a late safety car. This was brought out due to an unusual incident involving Rasmussen riding the kerbs coming out of the final corner and ending his race beached in the gravel. Still, the victory was well deserved and probably exactly what Smolyar was hoping he could do.
Vesti and Caldwell – Championship Contenders?
Saturday saw a lot of action on track with the second race eliminating a few drivers in spectacular fashion. Vesti and Caldwell were able to keep their cool, however. Both finished inside the top ten in Sprint Race One. Then Caldwell won the second race with Vesti in third. In Sunday’s Feature Race, Caldwell and Vesti finished fourth and seventh respectively. Both drivers are strong and these are the results they’ll need to fight for the Championship. Vesti was a very strong contender last year so will be looking to clinch the title this year. As a Mercedes Junior driver, he’ll be looking to impress his bosses in F1 for sure.
Leclerc and Martins – Rookies on the Rise
Martins also had a strong opening round with a second-place finish in the second race on Saturday. The young Frenchman was on the pace all weekend and capitalized where he could, finishing second in the first race of the weekend. A solid tenth place in Sunday’s race keeps him on the radar for the Championship too with an outside chance.
Leclerc is another one to watch. After falling down the order due to a puncture in Race 1, he made an awesome climb in Sprint Race Two to finish in 12th after starting 28th. Unfortunately, Leclerc got a penalty for a safety car infringement which put him back down to twenty-fourth. Despite this though, his quick pace should still be noted. Imagine what these drivers can do once they’re both up to speed properly…
Hauger Leads the Way
After qualifying on pole, Dennis Hauger took it straight to the chequered flag in Sunday’s race. A smooth drive meant he took his first F3 win with relatively little trouble. All the action on track happened behind him. This enabled him to build a nice gap back to second place and take the win comfortably. He currently leads the Championship with 34 points ahead of Caldwell in second with 32.
This particular track doesn’t always give fans the best racing to watch in a calendar year. Even F3 struggled with it a bit last year. This weekend’s racing was a surprise to be sure, but a welcome one. 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 F3, it looks set to be another great season!