From the Land of Fire to the Land of Wine and One Step Down but not Out: FIA F3 Returns in France (Updated)


Interviews by Sergio Álvarez; header image by Juan Manuel Gil / Agence Galeron.

1. Hauger 34 pts

2. Caldwell 32 pts

3. Novalak 28 pts

4. Martins 24 pts

5. Doohan 21 pts

6. Collet 20 pts

7. Vesti 20 pts

8. Smolyar 17 pts

9. Nannini 16 pts

10. Edgar 11 pts

Here’s how the FIA F3 top 10 (championship standings) looks at the moment. And welcome to our collection of totally random notes from virtual France. Das ist gut.

The Road to F1 (or DTM) is back in action at the mythical Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet in France and Fred Vesti has literally put his qualifying hat on – ’tis P1 for the Merc junior in the qualifying on Friday. Local hero Martins ended up in P3 on the grid for the Sunday’s main race, while our championship leader, Dennis Hauger of Solbergland, was P2. As y’all already know and so it says on the F3 official website, we quote, “the starting grid of Saturday’s Race 1 will be determined by reversing the top 12 finishers of Friday’s Qualifying session”. Effectively, FV has his work cut out on Saturday, while his pole will come in handy on Sunday. Good haul of points is expected, good stuff.

On with the presser then.

In order of appearance – P3: Victor Martins (MP Motorsport); P2: Dennis Hauger (PREMA Racing); P1: Frederik Vesti (ART Grand Prix).

Q: Gents, do you prefer a permanent track like Paul Ricard with long run-off areas and Mercedes and Red Bull front wing crushers, aka rumble strips, because here you can still push to the limit and sometimes overstep it with minor consequences or you’d rather go for a circuit that penalizes mistakes, such as Macau, a street track, for example?

Vesti: “Well, for me, I would definitely prefer a track with just walls or grass. I think almost any driver would say that. With that said, Paul Ricard is a great track, it’s really technical in sector one and sector three. You really need to understand how to go quick and also understand how your car is driving. In the end, we cannot choose a track, this is a good track for that as well, so I’m happy.”

Tom Clarkson F1 intervenes: “Are you guys able to run over F1 front wing crushers?” You read my mind right there mate. #telekinesis

Vesti: “You can definitely NOT run over those kerbs! I think a lot of people have broken their chassis using those kerbs and it’s definitely not something you wanna do because it might destroy your whole weekend if you’ve a broken chassis. If the car is understeering there it’s better to back off.”

Over to Dennis and Victor.

Hauger: “Um, I never really raced at a street circuit before so I can’t really say that by experience. I would defnitely choose a track with the, um… a track that punishes you for mistakes, with the grass or something. You’d really have to be on it there. Obviously here as well it’s quite technical although with run-off areas you really have to be on the limit with the car and long corners in Sector 3 make it even more difficult so it’s a bit of a mix but I would prefer grass personally.”

Let us pause here for a second and ask ourselves one vital question: what does it mean, ‘a technical track’? What’s the meaning behind this pearl of driver’s wisdom? Can we do it for you or rather can you do it for us? Well, Iberianmph has got you covered and who better to answer this riddle than Felix Rosenqvist (wishing the Super Swede a speedy recovery from his accident in Detroit IndyCar GP).

“(It’s when) you have the big wind that’s making a big effect already. Then you have a lot of temperature changes from one session to the other. In the morning the track is very cold and in the afternoon it’s very hot, which can make the track one second slower and very different. You have a lot of bumps in the braking zones. Then you have the characteristics of the individual corners: when you push too hard in, you always lose time on exits. With most tracks, you can attack quite hard in and you lose a bit on exit but in the end it’ll be the same.”

Felix Rosenqvist

Martins: “On my side I love street circuits like Monaco so I’ll go for a circuit with some walls but at the end Paul Ricard is quite interesting because when you go a bit on the kerbs they’re quite aggressive. At the end, it’s making it a bit like grass if you go over, your lap is done (good point, Victor). At the end, you still need to be precise and on the limit so I’ll say I still enjoy driving here. But I love a street circuit, such as Monaco, I’ll take that.”

No walls, big b@lls – that’s what I’d like to see on Saturday and Sunday. Catch U L8R.


And this is the shape of our top 10 after the French GP.

1. Hauger 66 pts

2. Martins 60 pts

3. Doohan 58 pts

4. Novalak 49 pts

5. Caldwell 41 pts

6. Smolyar 40 pts

7. Collet 35 pts

8. Vesti 33 pts

9. Sargeant 18 pts

10. Nannini 16 pts

And that’s after victories for Smolyar, Leclerc (Arthur) and Doohan (Jack).

We aked our championship leader, Dennis Hauger, how did it feel to be flying the Norwegian flag on the podium this year.

Said DH: “Yeah, definitely I see that’s growing in Norway, also from Formula 1. And obviously me doing well this year it’s been a mix, I see that everything (in terms of audience) is growing a bit there. Norway it’s quite a skiing country, there’s quite a lot of winter sports so it’s really nice to see the interest growing in motorsport there as well. Yeah, it’s nice to be on the top step of the podium and showing the flag.”

We go to Spielberg next. In July. Never a dull race at the Red Bull Ring.

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