Dennis Hauger sealed the FIA Formula 3 Drivers’ title with a peerless performance in Race 1 at Sochi but would narrowly miss out on the win which would’ve been the perfect way for the Norwegian to cap off a sublime season, finishing second on track to Charouz Racing System’s Logan Sargeant.
With Jack Doohan having a terrible start and finding himself down in 15th, Hauger needed just six points to clinch the crown, but the Norwegian would not settle for the minimum and had his eyes set on victory. Having started the race in fourth, he had already risen to second midway through the race and would spend the rest of the race in pursuit of Sargeant and first place.
Although he got close to the American, cutting down 3.5 seconds of the American drivers advantage it was not enough for the Norwegian to take another win in what has been a dominant season.
The achievement makes Hauger the third F3 winner and keeping PREMA’s 100-percent record in the drivers championship following in the footsteps of 2019 and 2020 champions Robert Shwartzman and Oscar Piastri both of whom now race for the same team in FIA Formula 2.
Reverse polesitter Victor Martins conceded his first place to Sargeant at the start but did manage to hang on to a podium spot, ahead of Trident’s Clément Novalak and Martins MP Motorsport teammate, Caio Collet.
Due to the uncertain weather-forecast for Saturday, Race 1 had been brought forward to Friday evening, but that gave the field very little time to prepare for a unexpected 20-lap spectacle that would eventually decide the title.
Not that a lack of preparation was obvious to those watching at the start. Reverse polesitter Martins got a good leap off the line and attempted to protect P1 by chopping in front of Sargeant, but the American used his vast amount of FIA Formula 3 experience to his advantage and had seen it coming, lunging to the left of the MP motorsport heading into the first turn.
The remainder of the top five, including Hauger, retained their positions at the end of the first lap. Meanwhile, Doohan as previously mentioned had slipped from 12th to 15th and was provisionally out of the title race. That didn’t stop Hauger from moving further forwards as the Norwegian stole yet another position this time the final podium spot from Jak Crawford.
Sargeant had increased his lead to 3.5s at the front as Hauger began to reel in Martins, pulling off a DRS-fuelled move on the MP Motorsport man for second. The Red Bull junior now had his eyes locked on sealing the title with a win and there were now seven laps left for him to catch up to the race leader.
Tijmen Van der Helm’s race ended prematurely when his MP Motorsport went up in smoke with five laps to go and brought out a Virtual Safety Car. The Marshall’s fast work spared the need for a full Safety Car and protected Sargeant’s lead.
However, the championship leader’s hunt of Sargeant intensified when racing resumed and he found himself within DRS range of the American on the final lap but it was too late running out of road and crossed the line behind the Charouz in second, with the Czech team claiming their first F3 win.
Martins – leading the rookie standings, completed the podium as Novalak pulled off a late move on Collet for fourth. Lorenzo Colombo and Arthur Leclerc took sixth and seventh, ahead of Frederik Vesti, Juan Manuel Correa and Ayumu Iwasa.
Crawford unfortunately fell out of the top ten but did hang onto eleventh for a spot on the front row of Race 2’s reverse grid. He’ll start behind Johnathan Hoggard, who finished crossed the line in twelfth place.