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The beginner’s guide to Formula 3

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How does a driver reach Formula 1 with the skills needed to battle the very best racers in the world? Our beginner’s guide provides all you need to know about Formula 3, the third tier of the FIA's single-seater pyramid – explaining what it is, how it works and why it’s the perfect training ground for Formula 2, and ultimately, Formula 1.

What is Formula 3?

The FIA Formula 3 Championship – or F3 – is a global championship in which the biggest junior talents in motorsport compete, showing their speed and skill while developing their racecraft in preparation for the next level. Succeed in F3, and the next logical step on the Road to F1 is Formula 2.

Formula 3 is a single-make championship, meaning that unlike F1 the cars are all identical. Everyone uses the same equipment, ensuring no one has a competitive advantage. A driver’s speed, talent and bravery are what makes the difference in the end.

READ MORE: A guide to the FIA Formula 3 Championship

As an F1 support championship, all 10 Formula 3 rounds are held on select Formula 1 race weekends across the globe. This gives F3 drivers an opportunity to showcase their developing abilities with the F1 world watching on.

Formula 3: Ultimate Guide to the 2024 season

Who races in Formula 3?

The F3 grid features 30 of the brightest young talents in racing driving for 10 of the most successful teams in junior motorsport.

Unlike F1, each F3 team runs three drivers, and with 30 cars out on track there’s plenty of racing action and battles happening throughout the order.

READ MORE: The teams and drivers racing in Formula 3 this season

The championship officially began in 2019, and current Formula 1 star Oscar Piastri was crowned F3 champion in 2020, winning the title with PREMA Racing. Other F1 drivers, including Yuki Tsunoda and Logan Sargeant have been race winners in Formula 3.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 14: Oscar Piastri poses for a photograph with the 2020 FIA Formula 3

McLaren's Oscar Piastri won the 2020 FIA Formula 3 Championship

Where does Formula 3 race?

Ten rounds in 9 countries make up the F3 campaign. Every round takes place on an F1 weekend, and each round has two races – the Sprint Race and the Feature Race – meaning there are 20 Formula 3 races a season.

Beginning in Bahrain before visiting Australia, the F3 paddock then follows the traditional European leg of the Formula 1 season.

READ MORE: The FIA Formula 3 Championship calendar

F3 makes the first of two trips to Italy to race at Imola, before then heading to Monaco, Spain, Austria, Great Britain, Hungary and Belgium, before going to Italy once more for the final round in Monza.

The calendar has been designed to test drivers around circuits they are likely to be most familiar with, having raced on them in lower categories, while beginning to assess their abilities to learn new tracks as well.

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There are 10 rounds of Formula 3 in 2024, all taking place on F1 race weekends

How does an F3 race weekend work?

Just like in Formula 1, a Formula 3 race weekend takes place across three days – typically Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Friday begins with the one and only Practice session of the weekend. The 45-minute session gives the teams and drivers a chance to acclimatise themselves to the circuit and to fine-tune their setups before the 30-minute Qualifying session later that day.

READ MORE: The beginner’s guide to the F1 weekend

Saturday brings the first F3 race of the weekend – the Sprint Race – where drivers battle it out for 40 minutes +1 lap. The starting grid is determined by reversing the top 12 fastest drivers from Friday’s Qualifying, so the driver who set the fastest time will start from P12 on Saturday. This provides an opportunity to further demonstrate a driver’s overtaking ability and racecraft.

Sunday sees the final race of the F3 weekend – the Feature Race – take place before the Formula 1 Grand Prix. Full of action from lights to flag, the grid order is based on the results of Friday’s Qualifying session, with the race itself run over 45 minutes +1 lap.

Biggest moments of the 2023 Formula 3 season

How are points scored in Formula 3?

The points system in Formula 3 has many similarities to that used in F1, but there are a few differences.

In the F3 Sprint Race, the top 10 drivers score points. The winning driver earns 10 points, second place 9 points, third gets 8, scaling down by a point each position to the driver in P10 who takes one point.

READ MORE: A guide to the F3 rules and regulations

The driver who starts the F3 Feature Race from pole position is awarded two championship points.

The F3 Feature Race points follows the Formula 1 format, with the winner earning 25 points, second place taking 18, third getting 15 points, and then scaling downward 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 and 1 point for the driver finishing in P10.

Also, an additional fastest lap point is available in both the Sprint Race and Feature Race.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 29: Sophia Floersch of Germany and Van Amersfoort Racing (21) drives on

The current generation of F3 car has been in use since the championship was formed in 2019

What does an F3 car look like?

Formula 3 is a single-make championship meaning that unlike Formula 1, all the F3 teams use the same car from the same supplier – Dallara.

All the cars feature aerodynamics optimised to facilitate overtaking, with a very low ride height sensitivity and a wide range of suspension set-up possibilities. All use an F1-type Virtual Safety Car and Marshalling system too.

READ MORE: A guide to the Formula 3 car

The F3 car features a bespoke, 3.4 litre naturally aspirated Mecachrome 6-cylinder engine, and continues to run on the Aramco 55% advanced sustainable fuel successfully introduced in 2023.

Pirelli provides a choice of tyre compounds most suitable for every circuit on the F3 calendar, and selects one compound for use per event ahead of the race weekend.

A Formula 3 car has a top speed capability of 300km/h, with a lateral acceleration of around 2.6G, going from 0-100km/h in 3.1 seconds.

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