Formula 3

PREVIEW: FIA Formula 3 Championship – Barcelona

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Credit: Formula Motorsport Limited

The FIA Formula 3 Championship returns to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya this weekend (20-22 May) for the third round of the season.

The field have already experienced the circuit in mid-season testing in April, but head back to Spain with the title contenders tied at the top.

Victor Martins and Arthur Leclerc are level on 36 points after four races, with the Prema Racing driver pulling himself up the order and outscoring Martins at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari.

Franco Colapinto and Roman Stanek won their first FIA F3 races at Imola, Stanek catapulting himself up the order after a nightmare opening round at the Bahrain International Circuit which brought two punctures.

Those results mean four drivers and four separate teams have won the first four races, with Isack Hadjar and Martins taking the Sprint and Feature races in Bahrain.

That means Hitech GP, ART Grand Prix, Van Amersfoort Racing and Trident have got their seasons up and running with early wins, but Prema lead the Teams’ Championship by 20 points from ART.

There are a couple of driver changes to keep an eye on ahead of this weekend, as Lirim Zendeli returns to the grid in place of Charouz Racing System’s David Schumacher, himself replacing Ayrton Simmons after Bahrain.

Meanwhile, Juan Manuel Correa returns to ART after recovering from a stress fracture to his heel which saw him ruled out of the action at Imola and also his European Le Mans Series commitments with Prema Orlen Team at Circuit Paul Ricard.

Josep Maria Marti will compete in his home races this weekend, with Spanish team Campos Racing.

“I’m excited to drive to Barcelona because my family is going to be there,” he said.

“It’s my home race so having the extra support from my family, and hopefully some of my fans, will be awesome.

“I really like Barcelona because it’s quite a high-speed track, and it also has quite technical sections, so it’s difficult to get a good set-up.

“I like the whole of Sector 1 because it’s flowing, you have Turns 1 and 2 which is the fast chicane, and then you have the long right-hander, which gives you a sense of speed because you’ve got your neck pulling for a good five seconds. It [demands] the best from you.

“The main opportunity for overtaking is Turn 1 after the long straight, but you also have a good chance into Turn 10, with their modifications you don’t have such a big braking zone but it’s still a good opportunity,” he said.

“It’s probably one of the most important tracks of the season for tyre management – Turns 1 and 2, and especially Turn 3 and Turn 9, really stress the rear-left tyre.”

Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director explained the decision to use the hard tyres throughout the weekend.

“This is the same compound used at the circuit in previous years, selected with the significant demands of the many high-speed corners in mind.

“With the new rear tyres for 2022 designed to degrade quicker and making the cars more challenging to drive, the young drivers will still need to manage their rubber carefully over a race distance.

“So the work done at the in-season test at Barcelona last month, when drivers also had the hard tyre available to try, could be very important.”

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