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  • Writer's pictureRACERS

FIA F3: Sophia Floersch makes up 9 positions in race 1

German F3 racer Sophia Floersch moved up 9 positions in Silverstone's FIA F3 race 1 after an ill-fated qualifying hampered by braking issues.

Photo credits: Sebastiaan Rozendaal / Dutch Photo Agency

One week away from the British GP, Formula 1 and its feeder series returned to Silverstone for another double-header - the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix was underway, the first ever race not named after a geographical location in the sport's history.

Coming from a battling round last weekend, Sophia Floersch showed good pace at Silverstone but saw her previous British races compromised by an early contact with Dennis Hauger in the first race, as the 2019 Italian F4 champion tagged and spun around Floersch while fighting in the midfield on the second lap. With Sunday's starting grid being set by race 1 results - and with the inversion of the first eight places - it was quickly clear that Floersch's entire weekend had become an uphill battle. She made up several places and completed an elbows-out pass on Cameron Das, finishing P21 out of the massive FIA F3 30-cars grid. After the race, though, there was more drama for the Campos driver, who received a penalty for pushing Das off the track - despite the two never made contact - and was demoted to P26.

On Friday morning, cars hit the track again for the free practice session, which was topped by David Beckmann for Trident Racing, ahead of Jack Doohan and Theo Pourchaire.

Sophia Floersch and her Campos teammates took turns leading the classify in the opening minutes, before times started to drop. Floersch, lapping around the top-15 mid-way through the session, was P24 at the end.

In the afternoon's qualifying session, Prema's Sergeant became the first driver to score two pole positions this season: the American was 2 tenths faster than Liam Lawson and just over three tenths ahead of HWA's Jake Hughes. Championship leader Oscar Piastri suffered mechanical issues and his car came to a halt again after free practice - forcing the Australian driver to take the start from 11th on the grid.

Likewise, Sophia Floersch was hit by more bad luck when her rear brake master cylinder ruined her qualifying chances: "Lost the brake in the first round of quali" - she wrote. "Not even one push lap", which meant P29 and last row of the grid for a disappointed Floersch.

With such a competitive FIA F3 field and 30 cars in just over a second, there was another monumental challenge ahead for the 19-year old German - who is certainly not new to memorable efforts.

In a warm Saturday morning, Logan Sargeant had a blistering start from pole position and was quickly clear of the pack, as Jake Hughes got ahead of Liam Lawson in the opening metres. Sophia Floersch, having to start midway through the last corner, had a good getaway, found Deledda alongside her but then managed to pass Dunner, advancing to P28.

Lawson, having a good run out of Copse on the first lap, tried to re-claim second place but went wide at Chapel and had to switch his attention to Vesti behind him - the Prema driver looking the fastest among the front-runners.

But, joining the battle, it was also 16-year old Frenchman Theo Pourchaire, who made the most out of the slipstreams and attacked Vesti at Stowe. The Dane defended hard and, crucially, moved two times on the Hangar Straight, triggering an official warning from the stewards.

Jack Doohan couldn't catch a break and dropped down the order after damaging his front wing in the first lap - the Aussie driver coming from another torrid weekend at the British GP.

Dennis Hauger also limped back to the pits and stopped his car with a front-left problem.

Meanwhile, Floersch passed Olli Caldwell on lap three and moved up to P26.

Soon after, the young lady from Munich overtook Stanek and went on the hunt of Macau race winner Richard Verschoor. When the two Jenzers of Federico Malvestiti and Calan Williams came together at Club corner, she found herself in 22nd position.

Oscar Piastri was also on the move, as the points leader went past Lirim Zendeli for eighth. After the first hectic laps, Logan Sargeant held a comfortable lead of over two seconds on Hughes, with the battle for third really coming alive: Pourchaire attacked Vesti again, leaving the door open to David Beckmann, who took P4 with an opportunistic move. MP Motorsport's Bent Viscaal also joined the action, making it a 5-way battle for the last podium position.

Vesti was the quickest man on track and managed to break away from Beckmann, with the aim of closing in on Lawson again. Behind him, Pourchaire came under pressure from Viscaal: when the ART driver locked up at Brooklands, the Dutchman was quick to steal P6 away from him - but positions changed again on lap 18 when Piastri caught up with the trio: Pourchaire managed to get back ahead of Viscaal, with Piastri also sneaking ahead.

Further down the order, Floersch had very consistent laptimes, also setting a purple sector on lap 7. Despite the crucial tyre management, Sophia battled for the whole second half of the race with Verschoor, Fraga and Fittipaldi.

In the closing stages, Jake Hughes dropped further behind Sargeant and came under increasing pressure from Lawson and Vesti. But the positions were effectively freezed on the last lap, when a yellow flag came out after Nannini and Fernandez made contact at high speed and went off at Stowe.

Logan Sargeant crossed the finish line to take his first FIA F3 victory, three seconds clear of home racer Jake Hughes. A big name in karting competitions, the American Prema driver made significant progresses since his Formula 3 debut last year and, with today's lights-to-flag victory, moves into the championship lead.

Making up nine positions in Saturday's race, Sophia Floersch finished in 20th place, which gives the young German hopes for more improvements in tomorrow's race that will start at 08:45 local time.



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