Much later than originally thought, the 2020 FIA Formula 3 season in on the horizon and after such a positive debut season in 2019, the sophomore year looks set to be equally competitive and enthralling.
With seven of 2019’s stars moving up to Formula 2, all of the 30 competitors will be aiming to be the next to make the graduation.
It looks a lot different to what it could’ve been but we will finally get racing at the Red Bull Ring in Austria on the weekend of July 5th. Another race weekend at the same venue follows a week later before a trip to the Hungaroring for round three. A Silverstone double header takes us into August before Catalunya, Spa and Monza completes the first eight rounds of the season. Further races are due to be announced soon.
Ten teams, thirty drivers, it’s a stacked field once again so let’s go through them one by one.
There’s only one place we can start and that’s with 2019’s runaway champions PREMA. The Italian squad were simply unstoppable last year but have to field an entirely new line-up as their 2019 drivers depart for F2.
A pair of rookies partnered with a returning driver as 2019 Formula Renault Champion Oscar Piastri (#1) and 2019 Formula Regional Champion Frederik Vesti (#2) join American Logan Sargeant (#3) who moves over from Carlin in another formidable looking trio for PREMA.
It was a fruitful 2019 for the British team and there’s no shame in finishing runners up to PREMA with the rapid Jüri Vips lading the team as the best non-PREMA driver in the championship. But the Estonian is now over in Japan’s Super Formula series and so a brand-new team is required.
Two drivers make moves from fellow F3 teams as Max Fewtrell (#4) joins from ART and Liam Lawson (#5) from MP Motorsport to form a strong lead to help rookie Dennis Hauger (#6) as he graduates from a second placed finish in ADAC Formula 4 and as champion of Italian F4.
ART Grand Prix
The French team are always quick in whatever they are competing in and this shouldn’t be any different. 16-year-old Théo Pourchaire (#7) and Russian Aleksandr Smolyar (#8) will both contest their first F3 seasons with Sebastián Fernández completing the team after moving from Campos.
It’s another all-new line up for one of 2019’s fastest teams but they still have bundles of quality in their team and will no doubt be in the hunt again in 2020.
They were pleasantly surprising last year in finishing fourth in the standings and they will have 2018 returning driver David Beckmann (#11) back in the seat to lead their attack. The German drove for ART in 2019 scoring 20 points in a 14th placed finish.
Lirim Zendeli (#10) joins the team from the Sauber Junior team and the two will be good guidance for British rookie Olli Caldwell (#12) who advances to F3 after a fifth placed finish in Formula Regional in 2019.
Another team to have kept one of their drivers and it was probably 2019’s unluckiest in Brit Jake Hughes (#15). A win and three podiums hides the fact that it could’ve been double that and more if incidents and penalties didn’t plague the 25-year-old’s season.
He provides vital experience and a cool head to lead HWA in 2020 alongside rookies with proven championship-winning DNA Enzo Fittipaldi (#14) and Jack Doohan (#16).
Dutch team with a strong Dutch flavouring to it as 2019 Macau Grand Prix winner Richard Verschoor (#17) returning for a second crack at the title and fellow Dutchman Bent Viscaal (#18) moves from HWA.
These two will need to up their game to lead MP back towards the front and they will be helped along the way by Austrian rookie Lukas Dunner (#19) who finished third in Euroformula Open in 2019.
One of F3’s smaller teams but still very capable of upsetting the applecart and they will field a full team of rookies in 2020 with all of their five drivers from 2019 moving on to pastures new.
Australian Calan Williams (#20) joins after a 13th placed finish in Euroformula Open alongside Italian duo Federico Malvestiti (#21) and Matteo Nannini (#22) in what could be a learning year for the Swiss outfit.
Much like their F2 counterparts, Sauber have scaled back their support and the team is back in the hands of the Czech’s ahead of 2020 and they possess a nice blend of youth and experience.
Niko Kari (#23) joins from Trident and is always capable of winning races but he has the extra pressure of being the experienced racer in the ranks as he is joined by Igor Fraga (#24) and David Schumacher (#25) in a team with raw speed, but have they got the consistency required?
Carlin Buzz Racing
Let’s not beat around the bush, a ninth placed finish is simply not good enough for one of the best junior formula teams of all-time, their 2020 has to be better to satisfy Trevor Carlin’s high standards.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s an all-new driver line-up with British duo Clément Novalak (#26) and Enaam Ahmed (#27) joining American Cameron Das (#28) in the Farnham-based team with expectations high.
Our final team is Spanish-based Campos who, like Carlin, were disappointed with their 2019 campaign.
It was dampened somewhat by Alex Peroni’s (#29) mega crash at Monza which saw the Australian miss the remainder of 2019 but he is back and ready to go again in 2020. Italian Alessio Deledda (#30) also returns and the grid will be complete by German racer Sophia Flörsch (#31) after she first raced an F3 car at Macau for HWA.
Drivers’ Champion: I’ve got a wide scope to choose from here and my track record with predictions doesn’t bode well for whoever I pick here. I believe that Hitech’s team looks perhaps the strongest of the ten teams and within that team, Liam Lawson stands out as the star and I believe that he will be 2020 champion.
Teams’ Champion: After what I’ve just said, I can’t not say Hitech GP. Although I will give honourable shouts to PREMA, ART and HWA.
Pleasant Surprise: I’m going to go for a driver in the worst team from last year and say Alex Peroni. He showed speed last year and returning from injury, he’ll be as determined as ever to push towards the front. I have to say, his rookie teammate Sophia Flörsch may also surprise a few.
Biggest Disappointment: I’m going to upset some people here and say Logan Sargeant. Having been the only Carlin driver to consistently challenge for points in 2019, moving to the reigning champions PREMA is a big opportunity but I see him being shown up by his younger, rookie teammates.
Formula 3 has always been one of my favourite disciplines of motorsport and I’ve been waiting for far too long for this season to get underway, but the wait is nearly over.