The FIA Formula 3 Championship heads to the Autodromo Nazionale Monza for round seven of eight for the series’ inaugural campaign, with nine drivers still in mathematical contention of securing the coveted title on the road to Formula 1. However, of those nine, arguably only four still have a realistic chance of securing the title.
Scuderia Ferrari academy driver Robert Shwartzman continues to hold the championship lead following his double-podium at last weekend’s round at Spa-Francorchamps, with perennial title rival Jüri Vips struggling to match the Russian as well as his Prema Racing team-mates throughout the weekend. Shwartzman’s season has been characterised by consistently rarely seen at this level, with the fifth round of the season at the Hungaroring the only time in which he failed to stand upon the podium.
Thirty-three points in the arrears of Shwartzman lies Jehan Daruvala. India’s great Formula 1 hope has managed to secure the most podiums this season with six, including a pair of wins in Catalunya as well as Le Castellet. However, Daruvala’s title challenge was blunted slightly as the Prema driver picked up only two points in Budapest before the summer break, allowing his Russian team-mate to steal the limelight.
Then comes the wildcard in the mix in Vips. The Estonian finds himself as arguably the series’ standout driver as he is entrenched in a title battle against the indomitable Prema trio. The 19-year-old has been superb so far this season, with his combative style and enormous talent powering him to a pair of feature race wins; a feat that remains unmatched by any of his peers in the field thus far this season.
However, while Vips’ brazen manoeuvres have seen him even linked with a potential move up to Formula One with Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda, it has also left him well out of the points on no less than three occasions on Sunday’s sprint race, including last weekend’s race at Spa.
Completing the title-chasing quartet, as well as the Prema trio is the Kiwi Marcus Armstrong. The New Zealand native has scored back-to-back sprint race victories in recent rounds to propel him back into the title picture. However, he remains forty-three points behind his fellow Ferrari Academy driver and must not be outscored by five points or more to take the championship to the final round in Sochi.
Armstrong’s plight has been extended by his relative lack of qualifying pace in recent rounds, leaving him on the back foot for Saturday’s feature race. He will surely look to end this run and take his first feature race if the season in front of the Tifosi.
What happened last time out at Spa-Francorchamps?
Pedro Piquet took his first win of the season for Trident in the races Feature race, as Shwartzman took a major step to taking the championship by besting his title rivals to second ahead of Daruvala.
Piquet utilised the respective lack of pace from the fast-starting Jenzer Motorsport car of Yuki Tsunoda to pull clear of his rivals to take a dominant win. Behind the Brazilian, Shwartzman worked up from as low as fourth to eventually pass Daruvala down the Kemmel straight to take vital championship points.
Meanwhile, a hectic last lap battle promoted Christian Lundgaard to fourth, just ahead of the title-challenging Vips, as fellow Red Bull junior, Tsunoda took his best result of the season in sixth – just ahead of Leo Pulcini.
Armstrong took a vital reverse grid pole in regards to the championship, as the ART duo of Max Fewtrell and David Beckmann completed the scorers.
Armstrong went on to take a commanding Sprint Race victory, ahead of a brilliant Tsunoda who took his first podium at this level, while the Shwartzman juggernaut continued to roll on with another podium extending his championship lead further; just ahead of Lundgaard who he overtook on the final lap into Les Combes.
Daruvala, Piquet, Pulcini and Teppei Natori rounded out the points as Vips lost his front wing in battle, denting his title charge.
What happened last year at Monza?
David Beckmann took a commanding win twelve months ago for Trident, with the German dominating a wet and wild race at Monza.
The late Anthoine Hubert was second, just ahead of Callum Illot to extend his championship lead to twenty-nine points over the Brit, as the brilliant Frenchman continued his championship campaign.
Simo Laaksonen bested title contender Nikita Mazepin to take fourth, Giuliano Alesi and Piquet as MP Motorsport‘s Richard Verschoor took reverse grid pole ahead of Jake Hughes and Niko Kari.
Piquet then took an excellent win in an enthralling sprint race, besting Alesi in a twenty lap dog-fight at Monza between the Trident pair. Illot once again rounded out the podium, this time edging out Hubert and Mazepin in another fascinating duel with championship ramifications.
Jake Hughes was sixth for ART, completing the quartet, just ahead of Beckmann who failed to translate his feature race form to sprint race victory.
Meanwhile, Tatiana Calderon rounded out the points for Jenzer.
What is the Schedule for the Weekend?
Friday 28 June
Practice: 9:35 (GMT+2)
Saturday 29 June
Feature Race: 10:25
Sunday 30 June
Sprint Race: 9:35
Where can I Watch the FIA Formula 3 Championship This Weekend?
You can watch the session lives from the FIA Formula 3 championship on Sky Sports F1 throughout the weekend in the UK and Ireland. Re-runs of the races will be shown over the week.
How can I Keep up With all the F3 News this Weekend?
The Checkered Flag will provide the latest news and updates from 2019 FIA Formula 3 Championship this weekend and throughout the season.