Six races in, the 2014 FIA European Formula 3 Championship has seen five different winners, with Frenchman Esteban Ocon of Prema Powerteam the only driver to see the chequered flag first on two occasions. Jagonya Ayam with Carlin driver Tom Blomqvist, Antonio Fuoco of Prema Powerteam, Lucas Auer of Mücke Motorsport and Max Verstappen of Van Amersfoort Racing have also tasted victory so far as the series hits France this weekend at the legendary Pau street circuit.
Pau is going to be an unknown for many drivers participating this year in the series, with only five of the current crop having raced their before. Blomqvist, who sits joint third in the championship, is one of those to have raced at the circuit before, along with Richard ‘Spike’ Goddard ofThreeBond with T-Sport, Felix Serralles of Team West-Tec F3, Sandro Zeller of Jo Zeller Racing, and Felix Rosenqvist of Mücke Motorsport. The best result by one of those drivers at the circuit was Rosenqvist’s fourth place in 2012.
Drivers arriving at the track with confidence should include Auer and Verstappen, who took their first wins of the season last time out at Hockenheim, and in the case of Dutchman Verstappen, his first win ever in Formula 3. Verstappen will have another hurdle to jump in Pau however, as it will be his first ever street circuit race in his single-seater career.
“It’s going to be my first time in a race car on a road course,” said Verstappen on his own website. “We’ll see how it goes. I’ve driven on a street course in Las Vegas, but that was in a kart so this is going to be a lot different. I’ll try to secure as many points as I can to close the gap to Ocon in the championship, especially after this weekend. So I’m looking forward to Pau.”
Lotus F1 junior driver Ocon currently sits on top of the championship standings with a 36-point lead over team-mate and fellow rookie Fuoco. But the 2.76-kilometre street circuit will be a new experience for him too.
“I never raced at Pau, to date, but the circuit looks fantastic and I’m looking forward to finally contesting some races in France again,” said Ocon on the FIA European Formula 3 website. “I completed several laps in the simulator and tried to learn the track by dint of racing games. I know that overtaking is virtually impossible. So, the qualifying sessions will be the key factor when it comes to winning the races. And although the circuit is new to me, my approach will be the same as on any other race weekend: I want to win as many races as possible.”