Who will come out on top?
This weekend the first round of the 2014 FIA F3 European Championship is taking place on the Silverstone circuit. The aim of the 30 young guns at the start is to stamp their authority on the proceedings right from the moment the light goes green.
Making a good start to the season is of crucial, perhaps decisive, importance. The 2013 champion Raffaele Marciello is the perfect example of this as he began the season with two victories at Monza. So everybody wants to do the same thing at Silverstone, but after four days’ hotly-contested test sessions at the Hungaroring and the Red Bull Ring, no clear-cut favorite has emerged.
The first question mark hangs over the hierarchy of the new engines equipping the Formula 3s entered by the 12 teams, which make up the grid of the 2014 FIA Formula 3 European Championship. Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, NBE and Renault are probably not all at the same stage of advancement. On a circuit as quick as Silverstone the drivers who can count on the best-developed engine will have a slight edge over their rivals.
On the driver front Felix Rosenqvist (Kftzeile24 Mücke Motorsport) is the benchmark. He was third in 2012, second last year so this season it’s the title or nothing! The Swede had a good pre-season test session setting the fastest time overall on the Hungaroring, but he will have to watch out for his new team-mate Lucas Auer (Kftzeile24 Mücke Motorsport), who jumped ship from Prema Powerteam to Peter Mücke’s squad over the winter. They are the only drivers who have won a round of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship so they will be the ones to watch.
Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) also stood out during testing as he was always among the front-runners. Stig Blomqvist’s son spearheads Jagonya Ayam with Carlin’s attack and for him this is also a very important season. His team-mate, Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin), and 2013 British F3 Champion Jordan King, are also potential title contenders.
This winter the Rookies were the ones who really made people sit up and take notice. Thanks to a specific new classification the best debutant will be highlighted in the tightly-packed field, but Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing), Jake Denis (Carlin) and Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam), were up there at the top of the time sheets and proved that they are determined to fight at the front right from the word go!
Among the outsiders Felix Serralles (West-Tech F3 Team) seems to very much at home in the British squad, which has just moved up to the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. Riccardo Agostini (Eurointernational), Nicolas Latifi (Prema Powerteam), Ed Jones (Carlin) and Antonio Fuoco (Prema Powerteam) will also have short odds on the bookmakers’ slates.
Like last year two free practice sessions, two qualifications and three races are on the programme in the context of the opening round of the FIA World Endurance Championship. The first two races of the year will take place on Saturday at 10h20 and 13h20. The third rendezvous is on Sunday morning at 09h15. So whether at Silverstone, in front of your TV or computer screens tune in this weekend to see who will come out on top in the first round of the 2014 championship!