F3: Who are the big names to watch in 2020?
Stuck on who to support in Formula 3 this season? Not to worry, we’ve got you covered with an extensive look at the names you should be watching out for, including title contenders, Formula 1 academy drivers and even a famous surname or four.
For those of you who missed F3’s mega debut season in 2019, the Championship was launched as the first rung of the official Road to F1 ladder, an entry point for the best young talent to forge a pathway to the pinnacle of motorsport.
With two races per weekend and reverse grids, drivers compete using the same chassis, engine, and Pirelli tyres on the same tracks as Formula 1.
READ MORE: How F1’s feeder series dealt with COVID-19 – and prepared to go back to racing
Such was the success of the first ever F3 campaign, that no fewer than seven drivers earned promotion into F2. Following Champion Robert Shwartzman into the top tier of junior motorsport are both of his PREMA teammates, Marcus Armstrong and Jehan Daruvala, as well as Christian Lundgaard, Pedro Piquet, Yuki Tsunoda and Felipe Drugovich.
That left the F3 teams with some pretty hefty seats to fill, so let's take a look at who's on the grid this season...
2019 drivers’ and teams’ champions PREMA appear to have gotten their recruitment spot on in the off-season, snapping up two of the most highly rated drivers outside of the official Road to F1. The Italians have filled their Championship winning seats with proven title-winners.
Formula Renault Eurocup champion Oscar Piastri and Formula Regional European winner Frederik Vesti arrive with lofty expectations – particularly Vesti, whose tally of 13 wins and 7 podiums from just 24 races last season makes for pretty remarkable reading.
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Renault junior Piastri is one of five rookies to have the backing of prestigious F1 driver academies, joining Red Bull trio Jack Doohan (HWA RACELAB), Dennis Hauger (Hitech GP) and Ignore Fraga (Charouz Racing System). It’s the latter who arrives with the biggest fanfare, the Japanese-born Brazilian will become the first F1 Esports competitor to race on an F1 weekend.
READ MORE: Red Bull Junior Team recruit ex-F1 Esports racer Igor Fraga
The final of the five, Enzo Fittipaldi, arrived with a fair bit of noise himself – but more on him later...
Last year’s Macau Grand Prix gave us a tantalizing glimpse of what may lay ahead in 2020, with the likes of Richard Verschoor (1st), Logan Sargeant (3rd) and Liam Lawson (7th) all starring.
The trio have stuck around in F3 for the new season and will hope to iron out the inconsistencies that hampered them in 2019. The latter two have been rewarded with seats at last year’s top two teams, PREMA and Hitech GP.
Sargeant’s switch to PREMA will hand him a machine capable of winning silverware, while the American will also be expected to play the role of experienced head within their young line-up.
Red Bull protégé Lawson will be joined by Renault junior Max Fewtrell at Hitech GP, with the two picking up on their battle from last season, where Fewtrell finished 10th and Lawson 11th, separated by just 16 points.
Verschoor has opted to stick rather than twist, retaining his Macau-winning seat at Dutch outfit MP Motorsport, where he’ll hope to push on and improve from his 13th place finish in F3 last year.
Newcomers to F3 could be forgiven for thinking they’ve travelled back in time when looking at the grid for 2020.
The aforementioned Fittipaldi is the grandson of legendary two-time F1 World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi, and the brother of Haas test driver Pietro Fittipaldi. The 2018 Italian F4 champion was runner up to Vesti in Formula Regional last season and joins with Mercedes-linked outfit HWA RACELAB.
Fans may get a glimpse of Ralf Schumacher around the Charouz garage this season, with the former Williams driver’s son, David, racing for the Czech outfit in 2020. The young German drove in the 2019 season finale in Russia for Campos, before switching to Charouz for the Macau Grand Prix, where he finished 21st.
Opting for a career on four-wheels as opposed to two, Jack Doohan is the son of legendary five-time MotoGP World Champion, Mick Doohan. The Red Bull junior is the 2019 F3 Asia vice-champion.
And as if that's not enough when it comes to famous names, Jenzer have recruited F4 UAE champion Matteo Nannini, whose uncle is none other than former F1 racer and Japanese grand Prix winner Alessandro Nannini.
The F3 season will kick off on the same weekend as F1, 3-5 July, in Austria. Each of the sessions can be watched live on F1TV Pro, and you can keep up with all the latest on the series on the official website.