The FIA European Formula 3 Championship saw one of its most competitive and exciting seasons to date in 2015, a year that saw the emergence of one Max Verstappen, the rise in maturity of Tom Blomqvist, and a deserving champion in Esteban Ocon.
The series saw seven different race winners for four different teams throughout the thirty-three-race season, with Ocon taking nine of them for Prema Powerteam, who continued their domination of the Teams’ Championship by winning it for a fourth year in a row.
Despite emerging as one of the brightest talents in recent years, Verstappen was not able to finish higher than third in the championship, with Ocon and Blomqvist of Jagonya Ayam with Carlin finishing ahead of the Van Amersfoort Racing driver in the standings.
It was Blomqvist who struck the first blow of the season with a lights-to-flag victory in the opener at Silverstone, with Ocon finishing second ahead of Carlin’s Jordan King, before Ocon won his first race of the year in the second race, with his Prema Powerteam team-mates Nicholas Latifi and Antonio Fuoco second and third. Fuoco took his first win in race three, with Verstappen taking his first podium in second ahead of Ocon.
Lucas Auer of Mücke Motorsport became the fourth winner in four races after taking victory in the opener at Hockenheim, with Carlin’s Ed Jones second ahead of King, with Ocon dropping down from second to ninth on the final lap when his car developed a mysterious fault. Ocon got his revenge in race two ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi of Jagonya Ayam with Carlin and Jones, while Verstappen took his first win in race three ahead of Ocon and Fuoco.
Ocon was victorious again in the opener at the legendary street circuit of Pau in France, taking the win ahead of Auer and Verstappen, before Blomqvist took his second win of the year in race two, with Ocon and Carlin’s Jake Dennis joining him on the podium. Race three, the Grand Prix of Pau, saw Mücke Motorsport’s Felix Rosenqvist take his first and only win of the season, with Ocon second again with Blomqvist third.
Blomqvist won the opener at the Hungaroring ahead of Ocon, with Rosenqvist on the podium in third, before Ocon took his fourth win of the year in race two, with Fuoco and Auer behind him. It was win number five in race two for Ocon, with Fuoco and Auer once again joining him for the podium celebrations.
At Spa-Francorchamps, Verstappen won race one that began a run of six consecutive race wins. Auer and Dennis were second and third in the opener, while Ocon and Van Amersfoort Racing’s Gustavo Menezes were second and third in the other two races of the weekend in Belgium.
Verstappen was also untouchable at the Norisring, taking his second consecutive hat trick of victories. Ocon and Auer were on the podium in race one with the Dutchman, with King and Auer again on the podium for race two. The final race of the weekend saw Verstappen joined by Ocon and King.
Ocon took a hat trick of victories himself next time out at the Moscow Raceway in Russia, with King finishing second in race one ahead of Verstappen, while Fuoco returned to the podium in race two ahead of Blomqvist. The final podium saw Ocon joined by Verstappen and Fuoco.
Blomqvist took his fourth win of the season in the opening race of the weekend in Spielberg, finishing ahead of team-mate Giovinazzi, while Dennis was third. Fuoco inherited the race two win from Giovinazzi when the Italian was penalised for a safety car infringement, with Blomqvist and Auer also benefiting from the penalty. Giovinazzi made no errors in race three, winning for the first time ahead of Blomqvist, with Auer on the podium.
Verstappen, now with the backing of Red Bull, took the spoils in race one at the Nurburgring, before being dealt a cruel blow in the championship with an engine failure in race two that meant a trio of ten-place penalties for the next three races that effectively gave Ocon a clear run at the title. Fuoco and Giovinazzi had joined Verstappen on the podium for race one, before Giovinazzi took his second win of the year in race two ahead of Blomqvist and Ocon. Race three saw Auer take victory, ahead of Blomqvist, while Verstappen climbed spectacularly up the order to finish third.
Ocon clinched the title at Imola, taking his ninth win of the season in race one ahead of King and Blomqvist, with Blomqvist taking his fifth win of the year in race two ahead of Verstappen and Giovinazzi. The third race of the weekend saw Verstappen claim his ninth win of the year, with Fuoco and Ocon completing the podium places.
Verstappen won the first race of the finale at Hockenheim ahead of Auer and Blomqvist, with Blomqvist taking the win in race two, with the Briton being joined on the podium by Giovinazzi and Auer. Austrian Auer took the final win of the year ahead of King and Blomqvist, who ensured second place in the championship ahead of Verstappen with the result.
As well as the podium finishes, we saw some excellent races during the year from Felix Serralles of Team West-Tec F3, Dennis van de Laar of Prema Powerteam, Tatiana Calderon of Jo Zeller Racing (in collaboration with Mücke Motorsport), Mitch Gilbert of Fortec Motorsports and Santino Ferrucci of EuroInternational and Fortec who all claimed top five finishes during the season.
The top three of Ocon, Blomqvist and Verstappen were the stand out drivers of the season, winning twenty-five of the thirty-three races between them, but no one can deny that Ocon deserved the title, having finished on the podium eighteen times in the first twenty-one races. It was a year where his consistency was rewarded, but it is Verstappen who will make his mark in Formula 1 first, with the Dutchman set to be the youngest driver in F1 history when he debuts for Scuderia Toro Rosso in March. Ocon, a Lotus F1 Team Junior driver himself, cannot surely be that far behind him.