The finale of Formula 3 is here whilst the fight for the F2 title rages on.
If you missed last weekend's mega Monza races, read all about them here:
Formula 3 - Race I (Saturday)
Going into the final feature race of the 2020 season, there were six drivers all with a mathematical possibility of winning the Championship. As we come away from the feature race and prepare for the final Sprint Race however, that number has come down to three. Let's see how it happened.
Zendeli and Hughes lined up on the front of the grid with Championship Leader Piastri way down in sixteenth place. It was the first race most, if not all, the Formula 3 drivers would have at the Tuscan Circuit and with it being known as a tricky place to get overtaking done, the opportunities to do so were very valuable. Turn one proved to be the main place to get a move done as was seen numerous times throughout the entire race.
On lap two of the race, Pourchaire was able to get past Championship rival Sargeant without the use of DRS and the two would continue to battle as the race went on. Up ahead, Hughes made his first attempt to take the race lead from Zendeli, banging wheels with him as they both went into turn one. Zendeli was able to stay ahead for the time being. Further back, Piastri had begun to make his way up the field as he moved into fifteenth place. After some more wheel banging and close calls, Piastri was up to thirteenth place by lap eight of the race.
Several attempts later, Hughes finally managed to get past Zendeli in an excellent move, only for Zendeli to sail on back past him again to take first place from him on the following lap with a lot more straight line speed than the British driver. Hughes was able to get past again but this meant that behind the pair of them, Vesti was able to close up and he was soon past Zendeli for second, who could do nothing to stop him. Then on lap fifteen, the lead changes hands again as Vesti took it from Hughes and decided to keep it!
Behind all this, Piastri was up into twelfth place and The Little Shark that is Enzo Fittipaldi made a crucial move past Sargeant for fifth place. With three laps to go, Piastri made it up to eleventh place, one away from reverse grid pole. As the final lap commenced, Pouchaire got past Zendeli for third and - after some back and forth between them - Fittipaldi managed to stay ahead of Sargeant - a potential game changer for the Driver's Championship.
When the chequered flag was waved, the top ten were as follows: Vesti, Hughes, Pouchaire, Zendeli, Fittipaldi, Sargeant, Smolyar, Beckmann, Fernandez and Lawson. Piastri just missed out on a critical tenth place whilst Viscaal and Stanek retired from the race altogether.
Going into the final race on Sunday, the Champiosnhip contenders have been narrowed down to Piastri, Sargeant and Pourchaire (the first two are level on points). With seventeen Championship points up for grabs, it really is all to play for and is a perfect set up for Sunday's finale.
Formula 2 - Race I (Saturday)
Well that was a little dramatic. For a circuit where overtaking can be difficult for the most part, there was plenty of action in Saturday's Feature Race. With key Championship contenders like Schumacher and Shwartzman out of place on the grid following qualifying, it looked like it would be quite difficult for them to make a respectable recovery during the race. But as always in Formula 2, it's never as straightforward as all that.
Lungaard and Ticktum were on the front row of the grid after a solid qualifying for both. Illot was in third but when the lights went out, was swallowed up immediately by the field and dropped all the way down to seventh place. Further down the grid, drivers like Tsunoda and Mazepin were beginning to make their way past those in front of them to get back to where they usually are on the grid. Daruvala ended up going backwards down the order as one car after another overtook him - a shame after a strong performance in qualifying on Friday. After seven laps (the mandatory waiting time before being allowed to pit) Lungaard was the first to go and get some new rubber whilst out on track, Ghiotto got past Ticktum for the lead of the race.
On lap ten, Illot blasted his way past Drugovich into the lead of the race as those before him went into the pits. Shwartzman decided to bring his mandatory pit stop up a few laps after dropping down three positions in a single lap! Things went from bad to worse for the Russian driver because after he emerged from the pits, he was forced to retire with some kind of mechanical fault.
Then, on lap twenty two, the beginning of the chaos began. Alesi became the second retirement of the race, bringing out a virtual safety car. But when the marshals couldn't clear his car properly, a full safety car came out on track and bunched up the entire field, spicing things up very nicely indeed for the end of the race. Lungaard, Ghiotto and Ticktum were in the top three before the safety car eventually went back into the pits on lap twenty seven but things only got more chaotic from there. Tsunoda and Ticktum made contact going into turn one (the Japanese driver was later given a five second time penalty for this which I thought was a bit much but there we are) but behind them, Schumacher, Aitken and Zhou all collided as they went three abreast out of the exit of turn one. Zhou and Aitken were both immediately out of the race whilst Schumacher was able to continue - but the safety car was forced to come out yet again. There had been less than half a lap of racing when this happened.
Illot pitted under the safety car and dropped down to P18 and when Formula 2 went racing again on lap thirty one, Mazepin posted it on both Lungaard and Ghitto into turn one to snatch the race lead and start building as big a lead as he could in the final laps of the race. After some more fun racing and intense overtaking, the top ten coming past the chequered flag were as follows: Mazepin, Ghitto, Deletraz, Drugovich, Schumacher, Lungaard, Vips, Markelov, Armstrong and Daruvala.
Formula 3 - Race II (Sunday)
Photo Credit: Renault Media Centre
That was tense. The final race of the season saw a three-way fight for the Championship between Oscar Piastri, Logan Sargeant and Theo Pourchaire that would end up going down to the very last lap of the season finale race in Mugello, Italy. Meanwhile, Liam Lawson and Sebastian Fernandez were starting from the front row of the grid and led the way as the pack went into turn one when the lights went out and racing went underway.
Suddenly, mirroring a similar incident that happened in the Formula 2 Feature race, Fernandez, Sargeant and Zendeli went three wide coming out of the exit of the first corner. Naturally, this wasn't going to work and sure enough, there was a coming together that saw both Sargeant and Zendeli taken out of the race and burying themselves into the gravel trap at turn two. And just like that, one of the big Championship contenders was out of the race. There was nowhere to go for the three drivers and the stewards deemed it to be a racing incident. All eyes were now on the main front runner left - Piastri.
On lap four, racing got underway again as the safety car returned to the pits. After bunching up the pack, Lawson then made a clean getaway whilst things got a little messy behind him. There was disaster for Piastri as he dropped down to ninth place whilst Pourchaire became determined to challenge for the Championship and made his way up into sixth place. Up ahead, Beckmann stole second place from Smolyar who would proceed to drop further down the grid as the race went on. Vesti meanwhile, decided to not to play the team game (can't really blame him considering it's Formula 3) and stormed past his teammate Piastri for ninth place, leaving the Australian in some trouble for keeping hold of first place in the Driver's Standings.
Fittipaldi made an excellent move on Smolyar for fourth place with Pourchaire following him and taking fifth place, leaving Smolyar down in sixth place coming out of turn one on lap ten. Mathematically speaking, things were projected to be very close in the Championship if things stayed as they were with Piastri really needing to make progress if he wanted to prevent the Frenchman from stealing the title from him in the second half of the race. Things didn't look any better for Piastri on the next tour of the circuit as Pourchaire made his way into fourth place, closing the gap down to just two points.
On lap thirteen, Vesti got the order to move aside and let Piastri through if he couldn't get past Hughes up ahead soon. Vesti proceeded to get past Hughes. Pourchaire then got past his teammate of Fernandez for third and Piastri then took ninth place away from Smolyar, getting the gap down to just one point! Piastri then finally got past Vesti for eighth place with four laps to go. Then on the final lap, Pourchaire tried everything he could to get up to second but simply wasn't able to. To ensure victory would be his, Piastri ended his race for a photo finish as he beat Fernandez for seventh by four hundredths of a second - sealing the Driver's Championship.
The top ten over the line were as follows: Lawson (in a commanding race where he didn't put a foot wrong), Beckmann, Pourchaire, Fittiapldi, Verschoor, Hughes, Piastri, Fernandez, Vesti and Smolyar. Sophia Flörsch finished in twenty fourth place for Campos.
Piastri won the Formula 3 2020 Championship by three points in the end, with Pourchaire leapfrogging Sargeant to take second by one point. It was an incredibly tense race from start to finish with the kind of drama we were expecting from this season finale, just not in the way that it unfolded. Piastri will be looking to find a seat in Formula 2 for next season now. Meanwhile, Jake Hughes finished his final race in Formula 3 by claiming seventh place in the standings. There are talks happening right now about his future but whatever form it takes, it won't happen in Formula 3 come 2021.
Formula 2 - Race II (Sunday)
Markelov and Vips were on the front row of the reverse grid for the Sprint Race with both hoping to capitalise on being out of place from where they usually are on the Formula 2 grid. Neither driver was prepared for Christian Lungaard however, who was determined to make amends after his result in Saturday's race. When the lights went out, Lungaard charged past the pair of them up into first place and pretty much just vanished into the distance for the rest of the race, building up a massive fourteen second gap to second place by the end of the race!
Behind him however, there was plenty of action - especially between Zhou and Shwartzman who were both eager to climb their way up the order and into the points. On lap six, Deletraz moved past Markelov with relative ease to claim second place with Vips looking to do the same a lap later. However, contact between the pair prevented him from doing so and he had to wait a few more laps before he could try again and make the move stick. Lap eight saw Ghiotto get past Drugovich and Mazepin get past Armstrong, all into turn one.
Schumacher was told on the radio that he would need to make haste, so he wasted no time and got past Markelov in an unorthodox part of the track in Arrabiata but there was contact between them with Ghitto and Mazepin closing up behind to join in too. There was some very close racing between them and on lap fifteen going into turn one - again - Mazepin locked up big time and ploughed into the side of teammate Ghitto, launching him off the ground and onto just two wheels before Ghitto crashed out of the race and came to a rest in the gravel. The virtual safety car came out with many cars pitting to try and take advantage of this. One unlucky driver who didn't manage to make that work for him was Alesi who had trouble in the pit stop and then had to retire from the race due to an issue with the rear right tyre.
Racing got back underway on lap eighteen with Mazepin going into the pits shortly after to repair damage he sustained from his collision. Zhou meanwhile did what he does best and overtook Illot for sixth place - quite impressive from the driver who started the race down in twentieth position. Shwartzman and Armstrong clashed with the former going off the track but was able to rejoin but lost a handful of places in the process.
Out in front, Lungaard took the race win by a country mile with Deletraz in second and Vips just missing out on passing him, having to settle for third - but gaining his first podium finish in Formula 2 after just three rounds in the sport, having taken over for Galhael from Spa onwards after Galhael was injured in Barcelona. Schumacher finished in fourth with Zhou in fifth, Illot in sixth, Daruvala in seventh, Sato in eight with his first points of the year, Shwartzman in ninth and Nissany in tenth.
It was a very strong drive for Lungaard with a solid race for Schumacher who extended his Championship lead and a terrible weekend overall for Shwartzman who didn't get any points this weekend.
The final Formula 3 Standings for the top three drivers and teams are as follows:
1. Oscar Piastri - 164 Points: Formula 3 Championship Winner 2020.
2. Theo Pourchaire - 161 Points.
3. Logan Sargeant - 160 Points.
1. PREMA - 470.5 Points: Constructor Champions 2020.
2. Trident - 261.5 Points.
3. ART - 251 Points.
In Formula 2, the standings for teams and drivers now look like this.
1. Mick Schumacher - 161 Points.
2. Callum Illot - 153 Points.
3. Christian Lungaard - 145 Points.
1. PREMA - 301 Points.
2. UNI-Virtuosi - 261 Points.
3. Hitech - 216 Points.
It was a great weekend of racing for drivers that hadn't gotten the chance to get some points so far this season, raiding them and taking them away from the usual suspects. Vips and Sato were the most notable amongst these in Formula 2 which will be incredibly valuable for them as the season goes on. Sato's overtake on Shwartzman will also be something he'll want to replay a few times between now and the next race. Formula 3 is now over for 2020 and will return in 2021. Formula 2 meanwhile has three more rounds to go this season with the next one taking place in Sochi, Russia.
What did you think of this weekend's racing in Mugello? Let me know in the comments below.