PREVIEW: 2019 BRDC British F3 Round five Circuit Spa Francorchamps – joint-biggest grid of the year saddles up for overseas event

by Nathan Hine
British F3 Grid on the run down into Le Source at Spa Francorchamps

The 2019 BRDC British Formula 3 Championship now heads to the only overseas event of the year at Circuit Spa Francorchamps in Belgium for the fifth round of the British F3 racing series where eighteen world-class drivers will now go head-to-head in the quest for supremacy around one of the most prestigious venues in Europe as the home of the Belgian Grand Prix.

After a four week summer break to allow all the teams and drivers to refresh following a hectic second half of the year, Carlin racer Clement Novalak sits 28 points clear of Johnathan Hoggard in the quest for the British F3 title. So how will the twists and turns at Spa Francorchamps change that very championship dynamic?

Like he has since race one at Oulton Park, Novalak leads the championship after the teenager has had a consistent first half of the season around some of the most notorious tracks in Great Britain. The last round at Donington Park was the first time that he hasn’t finished on the podium all year, but his lead was cut by just eight points courtesy of three fourth-placed finishes around the East Midlands venue.

Hoggard managed two wins at the last round at Donington Park, but went into the summer break thinking what could have been as the Fortec Motorsports racer crashed with Ayrton Simmons in the reverse-grid race which compromised his ability to eat into Novalak’s lead even further. He will hope to do further damage this weekend at Spa.

Johnathan Hoggard on his way to victory at Donington Park
Credit: Johnathan Hoggard Racing

A bad weekend from Ayrton Simmons at the last round at Donington Park sees him head to Spa 50 points behind Hoggard and 78 points behind Novalak. The Chris Dittmann Racing driver will be looking to start the second-half of the season afresh to make inroads into the championship protagonists rather than see his points advantage being eaten into by the trio of drivers behind. Double R Racing’s Neil Verhagen leads Manuel Maldonado and Ulysse De Pauw in the championship classification. But with just five points between them heading to Spa Francorchamps, it is all to play for.

After his best weekend of the season at the last round at Donington Park, local Belgian driver Ulysse De Pauw is delighted to be racing at Spa this weekend, and ahead of racing action at the Belgian circuit commented:

“I hope to continue my Donington form at Spa and for the rest of the season, there’s no reason why we can’t do that. The pace was there all weekend at Donington, I’m confident and hope to go one better at my home race. 

“It’s my home race but I don’t know the circuit that well. Hopefully I’ll have a small advantage compared to the rest of the tracks in the UK that I barely know at all, but I really want to get some good results at Spa for all the people that will come to see me.”

Some 13 points further behind is Kaylen Frederick who took pole position and won a race at Oulton Park and has been a regular podium contender throughout the season. His consistent points-scoring charge somewhat stalled at Donington Park, but he will be hoping to get it back at track at Spa Francorchamps as close behind is Kiern Jewiss and Hampus Ericsson.

Jewiss claimed a podium and two other top ten finishes at Donington and will be looking to build on that this weekend. Similarly, Double R Racing entrant Ericsson will be looking for further success around the difficult Belgian racetrack.

Sasakorn Chaimongkol on his way to his first podium of the year at Donington Park
Credit: BRDC British F3

Completing the top ten is Benjamin Pedersen as the American racer has taken a single victory thus far this year. The American’s first year in Europe is becoming a successful one, and he will be keen to continue that trajectory into the second half of the season.

Thai racer Sasakorn Chaimongkol will be snapping at his heels as a podium finisher not only at the last round at Donington Park, but also here at Spa Francorchamps last year. So the Hillspeed racer will be looking to make good his positive momentum at just a point behind the Douglas Motorsports driver.

Jostling for the positions at the rear of the championship classification is Nazim Azman, Josh Mason, Pavan Ravishankar, Lucas Petersson and Kris Wright where they will be aiming to have a better time of things at Spa Francorchamps this weekend.

The grid has been boosted up to eighteen cars once more with the return of Argentine racer Nicolas Varrone at Hillspeed and FIA Formula 3 driver Andreas Estner at Lanan Racing. Both of whom made their BRDC British F3 debut at Silverstone last month and will once again see how they fare compared to the rest of entrants in this ultra-competitive racing field.

The BRDC British F3 weekend at Spa Francorchamps commences with three 45-minute test sessions on Friday before qualifying starts at 17:05 local time later in the day. The first race commences at 12:40 on Saturday, before two further races at 09:35 and 15:00 on Sunday.

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