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
|ART Grand Prix||1||David Beckmann||DEU|
|MP Motorsport||4||Liam Lawson||NZL|
|Sauber Junior Team by Charouz||7||Lirim Zendeli||DEU|
|HWA RACELAB||10||Bent Viscaal||NLD|
|Jenzer Motorsport||14||Yuki Tsunoda||JPN|
|Hitech Grand Prix||20||Leonardo Pulcini||ITA|
|Campos Racing||23||Alexander Peroni||AUS|
|PREMA Racing||26||Marcus Armstrong||NZL|
|Carlin Buzz Racing||29||Teppei Natori||JPN|
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’.