02 August 2023
Jack Doohan (Invicta Virtuosi) took his second consecutive Feature Race win last weekend in Belgium adding to his race victory in Budapest the week before to put himself up to fourth in the Drivers’ Championship. Sophia Floersch (PHM Racing) and Nikola Tsolov (ART Grand Prix) also celebrated over the weekend with the pair collecting their maiden FIA Formula 3 points, Sophia, in the process, making history as the first female driver to claim points in the championship series.
Jack secured a second consecutive Feature Race win in Belgium, taking the top spot on the podium ahead of Théo Pourchaire in second. A challenging start to the weekend saw Jack qualify eleventh after a Red Flag and heavy rain saw drivers complete just one flying lap in Friday’s afternoon session. Despite starting on the backfoot for both races the Australian driver took to the challenge, climbing through the order in Saturday’s Sprint Race to finish fifth. Running on the alternate strategy in Sunday’s Feature Race Jack pitted under a well-timed Safety Car to re-join the track in second place. Battling with Pourchaire at the Safety Car restart Jack took first place from the Frenchman, collecting another haul of points to move up to fourth in the championship standings.
Sophia claimed her maiden FIA Formula 3 points in Sunday’s Feature Race, becoming the first female driver to do so in the series. After qualifying in 24th, Sophia had already impressed on Saturday to finish in twelfth. In Sunday’s Feature Race the German driver took the gamble to start on wet tyres, seeing the decision pay off she stormed through to seventh place on the first lap. Battling with those around her Sophia ultimately crossed the chequered flag in seventh, taking home six points in the championship.
It was a solid weekend for Victor Martins (ART) in FIA Formula 2 at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, coming away with 15 points across the two races. Starting strong Victor finished both sessions on Friday in third, securing himself a top 10 start in both the Sprint and Feature Races. Lining up in eighth on Saturday’s reverse grid he battled his way through the order to finish in fourth pulling six seconds ahead of Jack in fifth. In Sunday’s Feature Race Victor battled with those around him to maintain his on-track position. Crossing the chequered flag in third, he ultimately finished in fifth after receiving a 5-second time penalty.
In FIA Formula 3 Gabriele Minì (Hitech) suffered from a weekend of misfortune in Belgium despite starting on the right foot. Finishing Friday’s Free Practice in sixth he went on to qualify in third during the afternoon’s session. Lining up 10th for Saturday’s reverse grid Sprint Race Gabriele held his position until contact with Josep María Martí forced him to retire from the race. Ahead of Sunday’s Feature Race the Italian driver suffered a steering column failure, running into the wall on his way to the grid which meant he was unable to start.
Nikola had a weekend of mixed results in Belgium, also collecting his maiden points in the FIA Formula 3 Championship in Saturday’s Sprint Race. Running in the top 10 for much of Friday’s afternoon session the Bulgarian driver secured his best Qualifying result with fifth place setting himself up for the remainder of the weekend. Starting in eighth for Saturday’s reverse grid Sprint Race Nikola battled with Dino Beganovic to hold his position, ultimately finishing in seventh and collecting his first points in the championship. Sunday’s Feature Race saw split strategies across the grid with Nikola taking a gamble to start on slick tyres.
Unfortunately, the decision didn’t pay off with those on the wet tyre storming through the order meaning Nikola would finish the race in 17th place.
Abbi Pulling (Rodin Carlin) also competed this weekend, running in the penultimate round of F1 Academy Series at Circuit Paul Ricard. Finishing both Free Practice sessions in second, Abbi went on to secure pole position in Qualifying 1 and second in Qualifying 2. Starting from pole in Race 1 Abbi defended her position from those behind her ultimately taking the second step on the podium. Adding to her tally the British driver has achieved six podiums across the season so far. Lining up eighth in the reverse grid for Race 2 Abbi crossed the chequered flag in seventh however, despite finishing Race 3 in seventh also, Abbi was unfortunately disqualified due to a technical infringement on her car.
Jack Doohan, Invicta Virtuosi: “I am super happy with the weekend, especially our result on Sunday. On Friday morning we were quick in Free Practice, finishing the session in first by quite a healthy margin. In Qualifying we were unfortunate with our pitlane position and with the rain incoming it meant I couldn’t complete a lap in dry conditions and we ended up outside the top 10. We had a strong race on Saturday coming from 11th to fifth with very strong pace. On Sunday we opted for the reverse strategy in tricky conditions, our pace was very strong and we were the fastest on track on the alternate strategy. We were able to pit onto the soft compound under the Safety Car and although it wasn’t as easy to get past as I would have liked because the difference between the two compounds wasn’t that big, in the end it was great to get into the lead and take back-to-back Feature Race wins and also the point for Fastest Lap. To take away 58 points from the last two rounds was nice, I want to keep the momentum going and go for more in Zandvoort and Monza after the break.”
Victor Martins, ART Grand Prix: “It was another great weekend in terms of performance and pace. We showed once again that we were in the fight for top positions. There were some circumstances during the weekend that played in our favour at the start of the weekend. With the weather conditions in Qualifying, we were at the beginning of the pitlane, so we were the fourth car on track, and I managed to get third just as it started to rain. In the two races we had great pace, once again we were one of the fastest cars on track and always fighting in the top five or even the top three. Getting fourth in the Sprint Race with great pace and coming back strong it was a good achievement in terms of points. In the Feature Race again the weather conditions were challenging with slick tyres on a damp track, so the focus was to ensure we didn’t make any mistakes. I need to work on the start as we didn’t have a good one on Sunday which didn’t point me on the right foot to have a straightforward race and I fell down to fifth. I came back to third with great pace, a good strategy from the team and a great pitstop but we were unlucky to get a penalty. It is frustrating but that is how it is, we still took fifth and we recovered thanks to our great pace during the race. It will be good to rest over the summer break after a successful run throughout the past month and that is what we need for the end of the season in the last three races. Now we rest, we prepare and analyse everything, and we go again in Zandvoort.”
Gabriele Minì, Hitech: “It was a tough weekend in Belgium. We had a good Qualifying, we managed to set a good lap time and be in the top three which is what we wanted, especially for a track like Spa-Francorchamps where race craft is key as there are lots of opportunities for overtaking. In the Sprint Race we had small contact which compromised my whole race and meant I had to retire. Then on the way to the pitlane on Sunday I had a steering failure and in Turn 9 I went straight into the barrier. I am very disappointed of course considering the potential we had and the points we could have gotten but it is racing, those situations can happen now we will focus on coming back to fight in Monza.”
Nikola Tsolov, ART Grand Prix: “We did some great simulator preparation at the start of the week ahead of the race weekend which meant we could arrive on track and show our pace from the start. Despite the difference in weather conditions from the prep we had done, as a team we were quick in the rain. Qualifying was tricky as the track was drying with every lap. I was quick on all my push laps, and we had to make a strategic decision on when to push at the end of the session. I think we made the right call, I cooled down the tyre well to then be able to push on my last lap and take fifth which is a result I am happy with a top five start. Saturday’s race was short in terms of racing laps because of the Safety Cars which also made it tricky to drive. I managed to move up a position and take seventh and take my first points. On Sunday we unfortunately made the wrong call and we were on the wrong tyre. We expected the track to dry meaning slicks would be the best choice and starting from fourth those around us were also on slick tyres but in the end the wet tyres were much quicker. In the end it was all about surviving which is disappointing knowing what we could have done starting from fourth but that is just the way it went. Now we will just look ahead to Monza and take some time to rest over the summer break after a busy month.”
Sophia Floersch, PHM Racing: “It was a tricky weekend in Spa-Francorchamps. It’s always amazing to come and race on such a legendary track but this year it has been extra special. With Qualifying not going as wanted due to different factors we started 24th in both races. Saturday was already a strong race, finishing in 12th with only three laps of racing under green flag conditions but then Sunday we made the right strategy calls and ended up coming away with points in seventh in a super difficult race! I am really pleased with the result and grateful for the support of Alpine and the Rac(h)er programme, without them it wouldn’t have been possible and there will be more to come!”
Abbi Pulling, Rodin Carlin: “It was a weekend full of potential for us and it was great to put it on pole in Qualifying 1 but of course it was disappointing to not be able to convert it into a win. Although, it was still great to be standing on the podium in Race 1 with second place finish. We didn’t maximise Race 2 and Race 3, and we still have lots of work to do ahead of the next round. In the break between now and Austin, I will be working hard with the team to make sure we have a mistake free weekend.”