Back into the breach as F3 testing begins

New Zealand’s exciting renaissance in single-seaters continues this week as Marcus Armstrong and Liam Lawson join 29 other drivers and driver prospects at the Circuit Paul Ricard in France for the first official test for teams entered in the 2019 FIA Formula 3 Championship.

Marcus Armstrong set the fastest lap time on day 1, a 1:49.243 in the afternoon session to top the day overall ahead of Lirim Zendeli and Robert Shwartzman.

Upgraded from the F3 European Championship, the new F3 is part of Gerhard Berger’s blueprint for a more meaningful and simplified championship career ladder. That starts, of course with Formula 4, which uses cars similar to those featured in the ‘old’ F3.

Like New Zealand’s own Castrol Toyota Racing Series, there is a control chassis and engine, though each nation gets to nominate the engine it wishes to use. The F4 cars have less brakes, less mechanical grip, less power and torque than the old F3 cars or indeed TRS.

Both Liam and Marcus have raced F4, Marcus winning the Italian championship and finishing second in the 2017 ADAC (German) Championship. Liam was second in the Italian Championship. The two were hammer and tongs here all summer in TRS, and now it begins again; Marcus is back with defending champion team Prema and Liam racing with MP Motorsport.

The new F3 cars are a blend of F3 and GP3 technology, big and fast and powerful and quite unforgiving. All teams will compete with identical Dallara F3 2019 chassis and a bespoke tyre compound developed by Pirelli. Each car will be powered by a 3.4-litre naturally-aspirated V6 engine developed by Mecachrome that was previously used in the Dallara GP3/16. Teams must enter three cars.  The opening test concludes today.


2019 FIA Formula 3 Championship – Le Castellet Test Session

Drivers’ Entry List


Team # Driver License
ART Grand Prix 1 David Beckmann DEU
2 Max Fewtrell GBR
3 Christian Lundgaard DNK
MP Motorsport 4 Liam Lawson NZL
5 Simo Laaksonen FIN
6 Richard Verschoor NLD
Sauber Junior Team by Charouz 7 Lirim Zendeli DEU
8 Fabio Scherer CHE
9 Raoul Hyman GBR
HWA RACELAB 10 Bent Viscaal NLD
11 Jake Hughes GBR
12 Keyvan Andres IRN
Jenzer Motorsport 14 Yuki Tsunoda JPN
15 Artem Pertov RUS
16 Andreas Estner DEU
Trident 17 Devlin DeFrancesco CAN
18 Pedro Piquet BRA
19 Niko Kari FIN
Hitech Grand Prix 20 Leonardo Pulcini ITA
21 Juri Vips EST
22 Ye Yifei FRA
Campos Racing 23 Alexander Peroni AUS
24 Alessio Deledda ITA
25 Sebastian Fernandez ESP
PREMA Racing 26 Marcus Armstrong NZL
27 Jehan Daruvala IND
28 Robert Schwartzman RUS
Carlin Buzz Racing 29 Teppei Natori JPN
30 Felipe Drugovich BRA
31 Logan Sargeant USA


How to choose between these two? How indeed. Though very different people, their career stats have some key similarities.

And if you aren’t in the mood to bask in the warm glow of national pride, consider this: half the grid so far (with a couple of seats to fill) are TRS graduates!

Best thing is that we get to watch the racing  – because all eight rounds of F3 are on the F1 race weekend programme they will be part of the Spark Sport F1 package, meaning the on the F1 race weekend ’card’.


Mark Baker

Mark Baker has been working in automotive PR and communications for more than two decades. For much longer than that he has been a motorsport journalist, photographer and competitor, witness to most of the most exciting and significant motorsport trends and events of the mid-late 20th Century. His earliest memories of motorsport were trips to races at Ohakea in the early 1960s, and later of annual summer pilgrimages to watch Shellsport racers and Mini 7s at Bay Park and winter sorties into forests around Kawerau and Rotorua to see the likes of Russell Brookes, Ari Vatanen and Mike Marshall ply their trade in group 4 Escorts. Together with Murray Taylor and TV producer/director Dave Hedge he has been responsible for helping to build New Zealand’s unique Toyota Racing Series into a globally recognized event brand under category managers Barrie and Louise Thomlinson. Now working for a variety of automotive and mainstream commercial clients, Mark has a unique perspective on recent motor racing history and the future career paths of our best and brightest young racers.

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