Best FIA F3 result of the season for Sophia Floersch in Monza race 2
Scoring a P12 in another incredibly exciting FIA F3 race in Monza, Sophia Floersch claimed her best result of the season so far.
The Temple of Speed provided once again some outstanding racing action in Sunday morning's second race of the FIA Formula 3 Championship.
The Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, stage of the eighth and penultimate round of the 2020 season of the third-tier supporting F1, had in fact two of the most spectacular races to date, with the fight for the championship between the Prema drivers heating up after the Italian squad could secure the team's title on Saturday.
The weekend started with the usual Monza tow-madness, with half of the field ending up not getting a push lap on the last set of tyres. Sophia Floersch, stuck in the traffic, was among the drivers to see their qualifying compromised and lined up P25 for Saturday's race.
After a challenging Race 1 where she battled around the top-20, Floersch was edged by Smolyar on the final straight and was P21 - which became the starting position for the reverse-grid race on Sunday.
Russian Michael Belov started from pole after securing tenth place at his third ever race in the series and shared the front row with Enzo Fittipaldi - the Brazilian driver coming from an incredible recovery through the field in the first race.
Race 1 also brought a change at the top of the standings, with Logan Sargeant being spun off and finishing P26 - thus leaving teammate Oscar Piastri on top of the standings by just 8 points with three races left to be contested.
In a sunny Monza, Lirim Zendeli fired into the lead at Turn 1 when the lights went out, managing to get ahead of both Fittipaldi and Belov - the Russian being too cautious under braking and losing third to Jake Hughes as well at the second chicane.
It was a clean start for Sophia Floersch as well, as the young lady advanced to P20 when Lukas Dunner went off into the gravel at Biassono and rejoined.
Belov lost fourth to Lawson before the end of the first lap as well, just as Hughes and Fittipaldi went side-by-side on the main straight.
There was early drama as Pourchaire went into the gravel at the second chicane and dropped all the way down to 17th, just behind Logan Sargeant, as the American had already made up 10 positions after the first two laps.
As Fittipaldi tried to find a way past Zendeli for the lead, Lawson moved up to third on Hughes with a great move around the outside at Turn 1. Fittipaldi then completed a similar move at La Roggia, but Zendeli fought back with the help of DRS.
Floersch advanced to P19 and battled Malvestiti, but then dropped temporarily down to P24 as she was caught in the middle of the huge battles in the second half of the field.
Fittipaldi attempted a move at Ascari on lap 6 but had to back off, as the fight for the lead had extended to a group of 9 cars. With four drivers going side by side under braking at Prima Variante the following lap, the HWA driver found a gap and advanced to first place - but it was short-lived glory for Fittipaldi, who made a light contact with Zendeli in the first chicane and picked up a left-rear puncture that eliminated him from the race.
After yet another shake-up, Lawson led the frontrunners, ahead of Zendeli and Hughes - just as the Prema cars of Piastri and Vesti could cut their way through the field up until P4 and P5.
On lap 8, Zendeli went deep into Turn 1 and was down to sixth, while Hughes brought himself up into the lead. With a series of endless plot twists, Novalak went deep at the first chicane as he attacked Belov and hit championship leader Piastri and David Schumacher in the process. With four cars off in the gravel, it was the end of Race 2 for Piastri, who saw his freshly-gained points leadership now under threat.
The Virtual Safety Car was deployed, only for the green flag to be waved again one lap later, with Hughes leading Lawson, Vesti, Zendeli and Sargeant - the latter eager to make up for yesterday's lost points. Sargeant moved up to fourth when Zendeli had an oversteer moment and was off in the gravel at Lesmo 2 on lap 14.
Sophia Floersch advanced to P17 and made her way up in the midfield. Setting competitive laptimes, Floersch closed in on Malvestiti, before the Italian passed Hauger. Floersch jumped ahead of the Norwegian as well.
Meanwhile, the two Premas started to put pressure on Liam Lawson - allowing Hughes to gain a small margin ahead and to deny DRS to the Red Bull junior driver.
The focus then switched to the battle between the two teammates: Vesti defended hard from the charging Sargeant - with Zendeli ready to pick up the pieces.
As Vesti held up Sargeant, both Zendeli and Pourchaire went past the Premas, before Sargeant went for a gap at Ascari and the two incredibly collided: Sargeant, who could have claimed back the championship leadership, was back in the pits with a rear tyre puncture, while Vesti had front wing damage and saw his race coming to an end as well.
Floersch, now in 14th place, resumed her battle with home driver Federico Malvestiti and the two swapped positions several times in the closing laps.
With two laps to go, Smolyar attacked and passed Zendeli for fourth, before closing in on his ART teammate Pourchaire.
After 22 laps of uninterrupted racing action, Jake Hughes took his second win of the season in FIA F3, almost 2 seconds clear of Lawson. Pourchaire held on to third and edged Alex Smolyar across the line. Zendeli was fifth, Peroni sixth and Pierre-Louis Chovet and Roman Stanek secured their first championship points in seventh and eighth. Caldwell and Verschoor rounded out the top-10.
Sophia Floersch won the battle for 13th place and claimed her best result of the season in the FIA F3 championship, topping the Budapest second race. The 19-year old from Munich gained 8 positions from her starting place and will now head to Mugello for the final race of the F3 calendar targeting her first points of her rookie season.
UPDATE: Several post-race penalties were applied later in the afternoon. Liam Lawson loses second place following a 10-second time penalty for forcing Zendeli off track at Turn 1 on lap 9, promoting Pourchaire and Smolyar to secod and third place respectively.
Ben Viscaal was disqualified from Race 2 result for a parc fermé infrigement. He was P11 at the chequered flag. Sophia Floersch advances therefore to P12.
Clement Novalak, Oscar Piastri and Logan Sargeant all received penalties that will be converted in grid drops for the next round at Mugello.