"Racing to the Limit"
All you need to know about what happened in Monza this weekend.
If you missed last week's round of racing in Spa, check out what happened there by clicking on the following link:
Formula 3 - Race I (Saturday)
Now that was racing. After a plethora of penalties were handed out after qualifying on Friday for several driver impediments, the starting grid for Saturday's race was a delicious mess. Sargeant gained the most from the penalties whilst his main championship rival, Piastri, was down in fifteenth place. But as the lights went out and the race unfolded, it became clear that none of that really mattered.
Lawson and Naninni were on the front row of the grid - the latter for the first time in his Formula 3 career. When racing got underway, tight battles were present everywhere along the grid going into the first chicane with Fernandez losing control and spinning off the track but somehow not taking himself out in the process. On the following lap, Pourchaire made it up into F2, overtaking Nannini along the start/finish straight. He didn't stop there though as he took the lead away from Lawson on the following lap and began to work on opening a gap to the second place driver.
Down the field, Championship rivals Piastri and Sargeant (who didn't have a great start to the race at all) were battling closely over eleventh and twelfth place. Hughes then also made some excellent progress as he moved up into P2 after overtaking Lawson. Then Lawson and Nannini made contact going into turn one with Nannini attempting a late move on Lawson which in hidnsight was never going to work. The move damaged Nannini's car and he retired from the race whilst Lawson was able to continue.
Vesti then decided to become part of the battle for the podium by overtaking Lawson and was on his way to find Hughes when Fernandez brought out the safety car by spinning off and out of the race at the Ascari corner on the following lap. All the cars bunched up again and gave this writer a chance to breath normally again after all the on track action. On the restart, Vesti took full advantage of the situation and made it up into P2.
Just behind, there was a major development in the battle for the driver's Championship as Sargeant was spun off the track by Novalek, putting the American all the way back into 26th place. Piastri didn't want to waste the opportunity given to him and made his way past Peroni for P5 - a massive gain of places given where the Aussie had started.
With three laps to go, Vesti made his move on Pourchaire going into turn one and took the lead in edge of your seat late breaking that would put a smile on Daniel Ricciardo's face. Behind these two, the fight for third was intense with three cars alongside each other going into turn one! Piastri then won that round and made it up into P3, giving him an excellent provisional haul of points. All he had to do now was hang on to the position for the final lap.
Out ahead, Vesti came across the line in first place - winning his second race of the year. Pourchaire finished in second with Piastri holding on in third. Fourth to tenth was as follows: Beckmann, Hughes, Lawson, Zendeli, Viscaal, Fittipaldi and Belov. Peroni fell down to seventeenth place whilst Flörsch made up place and finished in twenty first position.
The Feature Race also saw PREMA wrap up the Constructor's Championship with three races to spare. Fittipaldi should also be commended for his excellent drive in this race. After falling down to thirtieth place at the beginning of the race, he managed to climb his way all the way back up to ninth. Impressive to say the least.
Formula 2 - Race I (Saturday)
Illot and Tsunoda were on the front row for the start of Saturday's Feature Race at the Temple of Speed but as is always the case at Monza, there was a massive rush on both of their positions when the lights went out. Schumacher easily had the best start to the race as he jumped from P7 to P2 before the cars even went into the first corner. Lungaard also managed to get past Tsunoda for third whilst Nissany dropped down two places to seventh after a strong qualifying the previous day put him in fifth place.
As the opening laps unfolded, the battle for first and third intensified but Illot and Lungaard respectively managed to stay in their original slots for the time being. Then on lap seven, Lungaard went wide going into the second chicane which allowed Tsunoda to get back past him and up into third. Down towards the rear of the grid, Zhou was making up places after a poor qualifying saw him start down in seventeenth. Shwartzman - who started in sixteenth - pitted early on, hoping that the alternate strategy would pay off for him - and emerged back into the race in twenty first place. Ticktum also made solid progress up through the field, getting past Nissany into turn one.
When Illot went into the pits for his mandatory pit stop on lap twelve, disaster struck and he stalled on his way out, losing himself a massive chunk of time in the process. Schumacher pitted shortly after and there was no trouble for the PREMA driver. Also on that lap, Nissany and Mazepin tangled with Nissany pushing Mazepin a little cheekily off track going into turn two. Mazepin fell down the order as a result and later retired from the race with Nissany receiving a ten second penalty which sent him tumbling down the grid himself after the race.
By lap twenty, Schumacher was up into the lead of the race with a 3.6 second gap to Lungaard in second place. Illot was making good progress up through the field by this point and on lap twenty three, went toe to toe with Shwartzman, getting past his main Championship rival going into the first chicane. Next time around, Illot got past Deletraz to take fifth place in what was proving to be an awesome recovery drive for the British driver. Then three laps from the end, Ghiotto got past Lungaard to claim P2 at his home race.
But out in front, it was finally time for Mick Schumacher to win a race in 2020 - only his second race win in Formula 2. Ghiotto finished in second with Lungaard in third. Tsunoda came fourth with Zhou in an impressive fifth after overtaking Illot in the closing stages who had to settle for sixth. Ticktum finished seventh with Deletraz in eighth, Shwartzman in ninth and Daravula in a solid tenth place. No doubt Mick was over the moon with his race win - it also brings him right back into Championship contention. Tsunoda is also in the fight for the Championship as Illot and Shwartzman are tied on 134 points each following the feature race. This left everything to play for come Sunday's Sprint Race. Each driver will be desperate to win the Championship this year as each one of them also has a solid chance of getting into Formula 1 for next season - and winning the F2 Championship certainly can't hurt their chances.
Formula 3 - Race II (Sunday)
Now that was the best Formula 3 race I've seen so far this year - and easily one of the best F3 races ever. After Saturday's chaos, Sunday's Sprint Race was always going to be entertaining but we couldn't have known it was going to be this good.
Belov started from reverse grid pole position alongside Fittipaldi in second place. When the race began, Zendeli dived down the inside of both of them to take the lead of the race for himself going into turn one. The three of them stuck close to each other over the next few laps. Fittipaldi came back to take the lead from Zendeli on lap five into the second chicane. But then down the start/finish straight on the following lap, Zendeli took back the lead again in some more awesome close wheel to wheel racing. After yet more battling, Fittipaldi then suffered an puncture on lap eight after making contact with Zendeli and was sent tumbling back down the order as he was forced to go into the pits to fix his tyre issue. But the race was only just beginning.
Zendeli messed up himself on turn nine, gifting Lawson the lead with Hughes tucked in just behind him. Then, everything went haywire as three cars into one corner didn't work at the start of lap ten. Championship leader Piastri spun after contact with Novalak, taking both of them alongside David Schumacher out of the race and bringining out the virtual safety car. His main Championship rival, Logan Sargeant, was now up to fifth place after starting way down in twenty sixth. Sargeant then move it up to P4 a few laps later after Zeneli went wide around the second lesmo. Hughes meanwhile had got up into the lead of the race ahead of Lawson and was just starting to edge out a lead over the New Zealander.
Teammates Vesti and Sargeant then began duking it out for P3 with some incredibly close racing all around the track. Then both Zenedli and Pourchaire managed to get past Sargeant and things didn't look good for the American driver. With three laps to go, Vesti and Sargeant were back alongside each other fighting for position when the two collided going into the Ascari chicane, puncturing one of Sargeant's tyres and damaging Vesti's front wing. Both drivers retired from the race. You could not have predicted this was going to happen today and it was fantastically entertaining.
In the end, Hughes managed to comfortably win the race - his second of the year - with Lawson in second and Pourchaire making it up into an impressive third - he'd slipped quite far down the order at the start of the race. Smolyar then finished in fourth with Zendli just behind him in fifth. Peroni came home in sixth with Chovet in seventh, Stanek in eighth, Cladwell in ninth and Verschoor claiming the last point in tenth. Sophia Flörsch had a best finish of her debut season by finishing the Sprint Race in thirteenth.
It was an absolutely bonkers but brilliant race and leaves everything on the table to play for in the Driver's Championship heading into the final round at Mugello next weekend.
Formula 2 - Race II (Sunday)
The Sprint Race had a lot of potential following Saturday's Feature Race but on the whole, the race failed to capitalise on this potential. Ticktum had a good start off the grid from second place and took the lead going into turn one, keeping ahold of it for the rest of the race.
Further down the order, there was some terrible luck for both Tsunoda and Zhou who suffered from technical issues with their cars which essentially put them both of of the race. Ghiotto and Aitken made contact on lap four forcing Ghitto into the pits and to then drop down to the back of the pack with Aitken down in P11. Illot got up into P2 as he overtook Deletraz on lap fourteen with the rest of the race up to that point being relatively uneventful on the whole.
Drugovich spun round into turn two on lap seventeen which brought out the virtual safety car but his car was soon removed from the track and racing got underway once more. Schumacher meanwhile made excellent progress over the course of the race and stole fourth place from Deletraz with one lap to go.
But it was victory for Ticktum - who then got his car stuck in the gravel track on the way to the podium and arrived in the medical car instead - with Illot in second and Lungaard in third. Schumacher retained fourth with Deletraz in fifth, Shwartzman in sixth, Daravula in an excellent seventh place and Aitken claiming the final point of the day in eighth.
The Championship Standings for both teams and constructors after this weekend across both categories looks like this:
Formula 3 Drivers:
1. Oscar Piasri - 160 Points.
2. Logan Sargeant - 152 Points.
3. Liam Lawson - 135 Points.
Formula 3 Constructors:
1. PREMA - 429.5 Points.
2. Trident - 225.5 Points
3. ART - 210 Points.
Formula 2 Drivers:
1. Callum Illot - 146 Points.
2. Mick Schumahcer - 141 Points.
3. Robert Shwartzman - 138 Points.
Formula 2 Constructors:
1. PREMA - 279 Points.
2. UNI-VIRTUOSI - 248 Points.
3. Hitech - 172 Points.
Overall then, it was an excellent weekend of racing for Formula 2 ad Formula 3 - with only the Sprint Race for F2 running out of fizz to finish the weekend off. With one round left to go for Formula 3 next weekend in Mugello, the fight is well and truly on for the Driver's Championship. Illot meanwhile is back on top in F2 for now but there's still plenty of races left for all of that to change and if the racing can even be half as good as it has been this weekend, then we will all be in for one hell of a show over the final few rounds of the season.
What did you think of the Monza round of Formula 2 & Formula 3? Let me know in the comments below.