Before the season began, not much focus was put onto Grégoire Saucy and his potential to win the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine title, but by the end of the year, everyone was talking about the Swiss racer, who dominated the 2021 season.
The ART Grand Prix driver won eight of the twenty races, including both races at the Circuit de Barcelona and Circuit Zandvoort, and wrapped up the title with three races of the season remaining.
Saucy became the first winner of the FRECA title after the merging of Formula Renault Eurocup and Formula Regional European Championship at the end of 2020.
New Series, Large Fields, Good Racing
One of the plus points from the 2021 season was the size of the field, with the merging of Eurocup and Formula Regional at the end of 2020 bringing together ten teams and grids of over thirty cars.
Prema Powerteam, a frontrunner in any Junior Formulae they compete in, were on the grid as 2020 FREC champions, while ART Grand Prix and R-ace GP headed up the former Eurocup contingent. They were joined on the grid by KIC Motorsport, G4 Racing, Arden Motorsport, FA Racing, Monolite Racing, JD Motorsport, MP Motorsport, DR Formula and Van Amersfoort Racing.
The teams were allowed to run up to three cars, although a fourth could be added should it be fielded by a woman driver. Only two teams – R-ace GP and G4 Racing – opted to field a female racer, for Léna Bühler and Bélen Garcia respectively.
The first three rounds at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and Monaco played support to Formula 1, while the series also hosted two races at the Circuit Paul Ricard, Circuit Zandvoort, Spa-Francorchamps, Red Bull Ring, Circuit Ricardo Tormo, Mugello Circuit and Autodromo Nazionale Monza.
Saucy’s Championship Charge
Saucy began the season with a low-key fifth place in race one at Imola, but the Swiss racer was soon taking his first ever car racing victory in race two, a win that would open the floodgates for the teenager.
He was unstoppable in Barcelona as he again showed the Formula 1 paddock what he could do – he won race one from pole position and with the fastest lap and was only denied the same hat trick in race two when Isack Hadjar took fastest lap off him.
Perhaps Saucy’s only off-weekend was at Monaco, where he failed to score points in race one and was involved in a first lap crash in race two. He also went pointless in race one at Paul Ricard, although his was due to a technical infringement on his car that resulted in him being disqualified having won the race!
Saucy did not let the disqualification phase him however, as he went onto win the next three races – race two in France and both races at Zandvoort. He would also take victories in the second races of the weekends in Belgium and Austria.
He failed to win in any of the final three rounds of the year but took podiums in both Valencia and Mugello. The race two podium in Mugello came a day after he clinched the title. He ended the year with points in both races in Monza, and he now moves up to FIA Formula 3 in 2022.
Five Teams Taste Victory Champagne in 2021
Saucy took all eight of ART Grand Prix’s wins in 2021, but four other teams also tasted victory across the season.
Saucy’s team-mates had varying levels of success, with Gabriele Mini taking four podiums on his way to seventh place in the Drivers’ Championship, and second best in the rookie classification.
The team also ran Thomas Ten Brinke for the opening five rounds before the Dutchman called it a day, with Finnish racer Patrik Pasma then being brought in for the remainder of the year. However, it was not a strong end to the season for Pasma, who only scored points twice in ten races, and combined with his points from KIC Motorsport, he placed only twelfth in the standings.
In what would be a false dawn for Prema Powerteam, David Vidales took victory in the opening race of the season at Imola, with the Spaniard adding victory in race one to his two triumphs at the same track for JD Motorsport in 2020.
However, Vidales would only stand on the podium twice more in 2021 and slipped to tenth in the Drivers’ Championship as a result, while he ended the year in the barriers after a high-speed crash with team-mate Dino Beganovic.
Believe it or not, Prema would not taste victory again until the round in Mugello, where Mercedes-Benz protégé Paul Aron took a double win. Aron was the more consistent of the Prema drivers, finishing on the podium seven times throughout the year as he took third in the Drivers’ standings.
Prema’s third driver – Ferrari Driver Academy member Beganovic, had a testing rookie campaign and scored only one podium finish along the way – again at Mugello. He ended thirteenth in the standings but third of the rookies.
R-ace GP, a frontrunner in Formula Renault Eurocup, had to wait until Monaco to open their race winning account, and Frenchman Hadjar handed the team the victory in race one, with team-mate Zane Maloney doing likewise in a team 1-2-3 in race two.
Hadrien David took his first victory of the season in race one at Paul Ricard after Saucy’s disqualification, but the team would have to wait until the season finale at Monza to add to their tally, with David winning race one and Hadjar race two.
David ended up as Saucy’s main challenger throughout the year and placed second in the standings, with Maloney fourth and Hadjar fifth (and best of the rookies). It also meant R-ace GP won the Teams’ Championship in 2021.
R-ace GP’s female racer, Bühler had a quiet year, failing to trouble the points-paying positions and ending the year with a best finish of twentieth in Monaco.
The fourth team to taste victory in 2021 was G4 Racing, with the team making the inspired decision to hire Michael Belov halfway through the year to partner Axel Gnos. Gnos had already had Garcia and Alessandro Famularo as team-mates in the early part of the year, but until Belov arrived, they had not scored points.
Belov, who had made a one-off guest appearance for JD Motorsport at Paul Ricard and took two podiums that weekend, was on the pace for G4 Racing almost immediately, and he took his first win in race one at Spa-Francorchamps. He also won race two at Valencia before taking a podium in race one at Mugello to place eighth in the standings despite being eligible for points in six rounds.
None of the other G4 Racing drivers – including guest racer Callum Hedge – scored points in 2021, with Gnos having a best finish of fourteenth, Famularo eighteenth, Hedge twentieth and Garcia – who ran a part time campaign – twenty-second.
MP Motorsport were the fifth and final team to win in 2021, but perhaps surprisingly, it took until the opening race at the Red Bull Ring for Franco Colapinto to take victory.
Colapinto was one of the favourites for the title pre-season but failed to score in any of the opening eight races (he missed four of them – two due to commitments in sportscars and both races in Monaco after being disqualified after Qualifying and withdrawing), with his first points coming with a fifth place in race one at Zandvoort.
His first podium of the year came in race two in the Netherlands, while he won the opening race in Austria and again in Valencia. Despite his slow start to the year, he ended sixth in the final standings.
MP Motorsport’s other drivers did not fare as well, with Kas Haverkort ending the year sixteenth in the standings after scoring points in only five races, while Oliver Gøthe ended twenty-third with only three points to his name. The team also ran Dilano van’t Hoff for the final three rounds, with the Dutchman securing a best finish of fifteenth in that time.
Other Notable Achievements
Some drivers did not need to take a win to make a splash in 2021, with a few other drivers having some strong events along the way.
Alex Quinn and Arden Motorsport will have been disappointed with how their season unravelled, particularly as they began the year with podiums in both Imola and Barcelona. However, that was as good as it got for the British racer, who ended the year ninth in the standings having failed to score in the final five races.
Team-mate William Alatalo had a consistent year, finishing every race, but the Finn only had a solitary podium to show for his efforts at Paul Ricard as he ended the season down in eleventh. Third driver Nicola Marinangeli did not trouble the points, with the Italian retiring seven times.
KIC Motorsport began the year with high hopes after challenging Prema for the 2020 Formula Regional European Championship Teams’ title, but their season was one of disappointment as they failed to score a podium, with a trio of fifth places for Pasma the highlight.
Elias Seppänen scored only one point in the opening fourteen races before he stepped away from the ride, before 2020 FREC champion Gianluca Petecof scored points in two of the last three rounds as his replacement.
Mari Boya showed on occasion that he is one to watch for the future, with the Van Amersfoort Racing driver bringing home a third-place finish in Valencia to add to his nine other top ten finishes.
His team-mate Francesco Pizzi had a testing year as he scored points only twice, his best result a fifth place at Zandvoort. Third driver Lorenzo Fluxá was another to fail to score, with the Spaniard ending the year with a best finish of twelfth.
Brazilian racer Gabriel Bortoleto had a quiet start to the year, scoring points in only one of the opening twelve races, but the FA Racing driver began to show his credentials at the Red Bull Ring with a seventh place in race one, which was followed by his maiden podium in race two. He would score points in six of the last eight races to place fifteenth in the championship.
Team-mate Andrea Rosso scored a best finish of fifth at Paul Ricard but could only manage one further top ten finish in Monaco, while the team’s third driver, Alexandre Bardinon, failed to score a point all season long. They also gave Arias Deukmedjian a one-off guest appearance in Mugello, with the American securing a best finish of twenty-seventh in race one.
Monolite Racing were the only other team to score points, with Italian Pietro Delli Guanti securing three top ten finishes on his way to eighteenth in the standings, while a one-off appearance for British racer Dexter Patterson brought the team their first points of the year at Spa-Francorchamps.
Swiss racer Jasin Ferati raced for the team in the opening five races before parting ways with them after Zandvoort, while Mexican José Garfias raced in three rounds as his replacement. Neither driver scored points.
It was a pointless year for both JD Motorsport, who will leave the series to be replaced by Trident in 2022, and DR Formula.
Final 2021 Championship Standings
Ultimately, no one had anything for Grégoire Saucy as he became the first Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine champion. Eight wins, two further podiums and only four failures to score were always going to be difficult to beat.
|1||26||Grégoire Saucy||CHE||ART Grand Prix||277|
|2||10||Hadrien David||FRA||R-ace GP||209|
|3||1||Paul Aron||EST||Prema Powerteam||197|
|4||22||Zane Maloney||BAR||R-ace GP||170|
|5||6||Isack Hadjar||FRA||R-ace GP||166|
|6||43||Franco Colapinto||ARG||MP Motorsport||140|
|7||46||Gabriele Mini||ITA||ART Grand Prix||122|
|8||30||Michael Belov||RUS||G4 Racing||116|
|9||21||Alex Quinn||GBR||Arden Motorsport||104|
|10||12||David Vidales||ESP||Prema Powerteam||102|
|11||8||William Alatalo||FIN||Arden Motorsport||91|
|12||5||Patrik Pasma||FIN||KIC Motorsport/ART Grand Prix||56|
|13||17||Dino Beganovic||SWE||Prema Powerteam||53|
|14||64||Mari Boya||ESP||Van Amersfoort Racing||51|
|15||85||Gabriel Bortoleto||BRZ||FA Racing||44|
|16||27||Kas Haverkort||NED||MP Motorsport||35|
|17||23||Thomas Ten Brinke||NED||ART Grand Prix||28|
|18||35||Pietro Delli Guanti||ITA||Monolite Racing||18|
|19||19||Andrea Rosso||ITA||FA Racing||14|
|20||51||Francesco Pizzi||ITA||Van Amersfoort Racing||12|
|21||55||Dexter Patterson||GBR||Monolite Racing||6|
|22||11||Gianluca Petecof||BRZ||KIC Motorsport||5|
|23||96||Oliver Gøthe||DEN||MP Motorsport||3|
|24||58||Elias Seppänen||FIN||KIC Motorsport||1|
|25||62||Lorenzo Fluxá||ESP||Van Amersfoort Racing|
|26||71||Brad Benavides||USA||DR Formula|
|27||33||Ido Cohen||ISR||JD Motorsport|
|28||7||Axel Gnos||CHE||G4 Racing|
|29||91||Eduardo Barrichello||BRZ||JD Motorsport|
|30||14||Nicola Marinangeli||ITA||Arden Motorsport|
|31||16||Tommy Smith||AUS||JD Motorsport|
|32||55||Alessandro Famularo||VEN||G4 Racing|
|33||25||Alexandre Bardinon||FRA||FA Racing|
|34||2||Nico Göhler||GER||KIC Motorsport|
|35||13||Jasin Ferati||CHE||Monolite Racing/KIC Motorsport|
|36||99||José Garfias||MEX||Monolite Racing|
|37||41||Emidio Pesce||ITA||DR Formula|
|38||15||Léna Bühler||CHE||R-ace GP|
|39||72||Bélen Garcia||ESP||G4 Racing|
|–||97||Sami Meguetounif||FRA||R-ace GP|
|–||77||Dilano van’t Hoff||NED||MP Motorsport|
|–||9||Callum Hedge||NZL||G4 Racing|
|–||89||Arias Deukmedjian||USA||FA Racing|
|–||40||Konsta Lappalainen||FIN||KIC Motorsport|