Formula 3

PREVIEW: FIA Formula 3 Championship – Imola

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Credit: Formula Motorsport Limited

The FIA Formula 3 Championship visits the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola for the first time this weekend, over a month after the opening round of the season at the Bahrain International Circuit.

Isack Hadjar and Victor Martins won the first two races of the season on F3’s first visit to the Middle East, before the teams headed to Spain for two rounds of testing at Circuito de Jerez and Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Prema Racing dominated both Day 1 and Day 2 at Jerez, while Gregoire Saucy and Caio Collet topped the times in Barcelona.

Martins’ team-mate Saucy took his first F3 podium in Bahrain, helping ART Grand Prix to the top of the Teams’ Championship in the early stages.

Martins and Leclerc are separated by just one point going into the third and fourth races of the season, with Leclerc’s Prema team-mate Oliver Bearman seven points behind Leclerc.

In the build-up to the weekend, Leclerc said he is “really looking forward to racing at Imola this year, it’s a great track.

“I really love the layout, it’s quite narrow. I would say it’s quite tricky in qualifying, and it will also be tricky in races to overtake.

“It’s also not far from Ferrari, and I spend most of my time with them in the Ferrari Driver Academy so I think it will feel like home.

“It’s a high-speed track and quite tight so I think it will be really interesting in qualifying, because to put a lap together will not be easy.

“In terms of overtaking it’s really narrow so it will be hard to follow, there’s not much possibility in the line you take. If you are behind, you cannot really explore outside or inside lines so I think the main straight will be the main place to overtake.

“I think the right-hand tyres will suffer quite a lot at Imola, but let’s see. I did a Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine race there and the front degradation was quite big, so we will have to see how the Formula 3 car reacts. I’m open to every change we might get!”

The aforementioned in-season tests saw several drivers top the times, though Barcelona was more evenly-spread.

Saucy and Alexander Smolyar were quickest on Day 1, while Collet and William Alatalo ended the two sessions on Day 2 at the top respectively.

We will see several changes to the grid between Bahrain and Imola.

Oliver Rasmussen returns to F3 to replace Jonny Edgar at Trident, while Federico Malvestiti replaces one-round entry Niko Kari at Jenzer Motorsport.

Meanwhile, Ayrton Simmons has lost his seat at Charouz Racing System, and will be replaced by David Schumacher.

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Stickler for track limits, covering the GB3 Championship and the FIA Formula 3 Championship. Twitter: @MCallanderMedia
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