F3 European Championship first time at Portimao
On the first weekend in September, the FIA Formula 3 European Championship is going to hold its first Portuguese race meeting since it was revived. Before racing at Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, located not far from Portimao, the teams had two official days of testing on Tuesday and Wednesday.
In addition to the F3 European Championship regulars, the grid for the races in Portugal will also feature two drivers who haven’t competed in the series yet. New Zealand’s Nick Cassidy (Prema Powerteam) will replace race Brandon Maisano, while Briton Alexander Sims is going to represent the colours of newcomers Team HitechGP.
During the offical tests Nick Cassidy proved that he will be one of the main players in the races. On the second day of the tests Cassidy set the second best lap time (1.41.920), 0.161 seconds slower than his team-mate Felix Rosenqvist. George Russell (Carlin, 1:41.934) secured third place and he was the best rookie. Sérgio Sette Câmara (Motopark, 1:41.990), Markus Pommer (Motopark, 1:41.993) and Callum Ilott (Carlin, 1:42.020) completed the top six.
By finishing first, Sweden’s Rosenqvist was the best of the three hot title favourites. Championship leader Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin, 1:42.116) finished seventh and rookie Charles Leclerc (Van Amersfoort Racing, 1:42.466), currently third in the championship standings, had to settle for finishing 15th.
On the first day of testing young drivers were offered the chance of testing on two different track layouts – shorter 4.563-km layout without chicane at Turn 1 and longer 4.684-km layout with chicane. Lance Stroll (Prema Powerteam) was the fastest on both layouts.
In the morning session Turn 1 was cornered without the chicane, the layout that had originally been supposed be used on the weekend. But due to problems with respecting the track limits, it was decided to test the track version that includes the chicane in the afternoon. The second version proved to be the better option and after some consultations with the teams it was decided that said layout will also be used for race weekend.
Races are scheduled for Saturday on 11.15 and 16.30 and third race will start on Sunday at 11.15. After eight racing weekends and 24 races Giovinazzi is leading the championship standings with 333,5 points, ahead Rosenqvist with 313 and Leclerc with 304,5.