PREMA Racing delivered an outstanding 1-2 finish today at Circuit Paul Ricard as the FIA Formula 3 Championship went underway for race 1 and 2 at the French Grand Prix venue.
Arthur Leclerc experienced a spectacular breakthrough moment, leading from start to finish in race 2 to take his maiden win in the series. The 20-year-old Monegasque put up a stellar performance in race 1 after a mistake in qualifying. Starting from P30 on the grid, he stormed through the field and crossed the finish line in P12. That gave him the reverse-grid pole in race 2, a chance that he made the most of. At the start, the Ferrari Driver Academy member took the lead and quickly got out of DRS range, never looking back.
Ending up second was fellow PREMA Racing driver and championship leader Dennis Hauger. Hauger gained one spot early from P4 and shadowed teammate Caldwell before making a clean move for P2. Afterwards, the Norwegian pulled away while Caldwell fell into the clutches of Victor Martins. Despite his valiant defence, the British racer ran out of tyres and surrendered third place, settling for P4.
The main race of the weekend, race 3, will start tomorrow, with Hauger taking off from the front row in P2. Caldwell and Leclerc will aim for comebacks again starting from P14 and P30 respectively, aware that points are far from out of reach.
#1 Dennis Hauger
“It was nice to get on the podium today, and it's great to be on it before going into tomorrow. In race 1 we had a bit of a tough start, didn’t really get to maximize it, but with quite a bit of fighting, we managed to get back up again and also obviously make it to the reversed top-12. Despite having one car that stalled ahead of me, the start of race 2 was pretty good. Most of the drivers were on new tyres while I was on a used set from qualy so I wasn't shocked by the gap out front. When things started to settle down, I got into the rhythm and passed Olli for P2. Then being alone, I was able to manage the situation while Arthur did a great job, well deserved victory. For tomorrow we have sort the pace but also some things to work on, myself included. We will start from P2, and I think we have some opportunities to get some good points. We just need to keep focusing ahead and hopefully, we can come out on top tomorrow."
Qualifying: P2 Fastest lap: 1'51"063
Starting Grid Race 1: P11 Race 1: P9
Starting Grid Race 2: P4 Race 2: P2
#2 Arthur Leclerc
“It's special to get the first win in this series because we are 30 drivers, all really strong with competitive teams. It feels great to be on top. This morning, I thought: I have to maximize all the opportunities that I get, focus on my job. We knew we had the pace straight out of practice. In qualifying, I was a bit unfortunate, but it was a very good recovery this morning with a lot of overtakes. Honestly, I didn’t expect to come up from so far on the grid, and we made it to P1 this afternoon. The start was quite good, and I was happy with it. In the first part of the race, I struggled a bit to put a gap on Olli and Dennis. Afterwards, I just focused on improving corner by corner to make the difference at the end, and I was able to put the gap and manage my tyres pretty well. The car has been really strong for the whole weekend. Now we just need to put it all together.”
Qualifying 1: P30 Fastest lap: 2'30"239
Starting Grid Race 1: P30 Race 1: P12
Starting Grid Race 2: P1 Race 2: P1
#3 Olli Caldwell
“Race 1 was good, I was happy with the positions gained after a not so good qualifying. I managed to score some points in the end, and get a good position for the reverse grid of race 2. In Race 2, we scored good points again, but there is no reason we shouldn’t have been on the podium other than myself. I want to apologise to the team because they handed me a great car. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t make it come together today, but I look forward to a good run tomorrow.”
Qualifying 1: P14 Fastest lap: 1'51"648
Starting Grid Race 1: P14 Race 1: P10
Starting Grid Race 2: P3 Race 2: P4