F3 - Doohan closes in on Championship lead with defensive Race 3 win at Spa | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

F3 - Doohan closes in on Championship lead with defensive Race 3 win at Spa

  • gb
29.08.21

F3 - 2021 season/ Round 5 - Spa Francorchamps event - Race 3 report

Jack Doohan put on a defiant defensive display in a rain hampered Race 3 at Spa, holding off Victor Martins and Alex Smolyar to become the first Formula 3 driver to win twice in a single round with his third victory of the season.

The battle between Doohan and Martins will continue to bubble away even after the chequered flag, with the Frenchman at one point passing the Trident driver off the track. Martins argued that he’d been forced wide, but was ordered to hand back the position.

Retaking the lead, Doohan didn’t make the same mistake twice, holding off Martins for the remainder of the race and clinching a vital victory for his title bid. The Australian is now just 25 points off Dennis Hauger, who had entered the weekend with a 63-point advantage.

After Qualifying back in 14th, Hauger’s goal was damage limitation, and the PREMA Made up six places to eighth, only slowed down by some dogged defending from Doohan’s Trident teammate, David Schumacher, who ended up in ninth ahead of Arthur Leclerc.

Alex Smolyar was out of the battle for first but coolly clinched his third podium of the season, and first since Le Castellet. Caio Collet was unable to challenge him in fourth, finishing in front of Clement Novalak, Frederik Vesti and Logan Sargeant.

AS IT HAPPENED

Further downpour meant that the field started behind the Safety Car for the second time this weekend, with Bert Mylander eventually peeling the Mercedes SC into the pitlane for a rolling start with 14 laps to go.

Starting from pole for the second time in as many races, Doohan slowed the field right down on the main straight before launching into Turn 1, with Martins in tow. The MP driver was locked into Doohan’s slipstream but hampered by the spray from the back of his Trident.

With his main title rival at the front, Championship leader Hauger was attempting to minimise the damage to his advantage after a difficult Qualifying session. The PREMA Racing driver was starting down in 14th but managed to jump two spots inside of the opening lap.

Jak Crawford and Roman Stanek followed next for Hauger as the PREMA locked in a points’ place. Schumacher and Johnathan Hoggard were busy battling for ninth ahead of him, but Hauger put a stop to that, picking off Hoggard and putting himself between the pair.

With 10 laps to go, Martins hadn’t relented in his chase of the race lead, continuing to keep Doohan within DRS range. The MP made a bold move at Turn 9, running wide and scampering past the Trident, but with all four wheels off the tarmac, the Frenchman was told to hand the place back.

Meanwhile, Doohan’s teammate, Schumacher, had been doing a sterling job of keeping his title rival at bay in eighth, but a wobble opened the door for Hauger and the PREMA leapt ahead.

Leclerc had recovered from a difficult start to the race to pass Crawford and Stanek for 11th. The Monegasque was then gifted the chance to join the back of the top 10 after a wide moment for Hoggard, who had gone skidding through the gravel and dropped to 16th.

Eventually, Martins was forced to relent in his battle with Doohan and save his tyres, the Trident weathering the storm to take a second win in as many races. Crossing the line with a 1.6s gap, Martins settled for second but did score the fastest lap.

Alex Smolyar collected a podium ahead of Caio Collet and Clement Novalak. Frederik Vesti had dashed past Logan Sargeant for sixth with two laps to go. Hauger had risen six places to get up to eighth, minimising the points loss to Doohan. Schumacher and Leclerc completed the top 10.

KEY QUOTE – JACK DOOHAN (TRIDENT)

“I am very happy, although I didn’t have the pace that I would like to have had. We didn’t have the same pace as yesterday, but in the end, we got the job done and I adapted as well as I could have.

“Victor had an awesome race and had very strong pace. He was definitely quicker than I was, but luckily, I was able to pull away in the few areas that I was quicker and did enough to keep the gap. I am very happy and off to Zandvoort now.

“The gap to Dennis (Hauger) is definitely a lot better than 63, but there are two rounds to go, and my aim is to be in front of him. We are going to keep pushing as hard as we can.”

THE CHAMPIONSHIP VIEW

Hauger retains his Championship lead but is now just 25 points ahead of Doohan, with Vesti in third on 101 points. Martins is fourth with 96 and Smolyar fifth with 92.

PREMA Racing are first in the Teams’ Championship with 290 points, ahead of Trident on 274. ART Grand Prix are third with 202, in front of MP Motorsport with 159.