Sophia Floersch ends the FIA Formula 3 season on a high at Monza
Sophia Floersch enjoyed a number of thrilling battles at the temple of speed, where she completed her record-breaking season in FIA Formula 3 with two encouraging results at Monza. Floersch maintained her record of completing every racing lap across the season.
Sophia Floersch has completed her record-breaking season in FIA Formula 3 with two encouraging results at Monza. The PHM Racing by Charouz driver enjoyed a number of thrilling battles at the temple of speed as she maintained her record of completing every racing lap across the season.
Finishing 16th in race one and 13th in race two, Floersch continued her hard-charging form to once again make significant moves and close out the season with another excellent performance.
Arriving at Monza following her momentous weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, Sophia was aiming to carry this confidence into the final round of the FIA F3 season. With Floersch’s best finish in her maiden FIA Formula 3 campaign also coming at Monza, expectations were high heading into the weekend.
Opening practice on Friday morning was disrupted by a pair of red flags, with drivers also fighting for track position with the slipstreaming effect proving extremely powerful. This meant that Sophia, along with her rivals, completed just a handful of flying laps with the PHM Racing by Charouz driver ending the session 23rd overall.
Qualifying would give Sophia a chance to build upon what she had learnt in practice and make final preparations ahead of the two races to follow. The session was heavily disrupted with three red flags, leading to limited opportunities for drivers to get into a rhythm and improve their times. Floersch completed just three laps across the session, which was brought to an early conclusion, with her fastest lap placing her 22nd for both races.
Following disqualifications and penalties for drivers ahead, Sophia would line up 17th for race one, her highest starting position this season. As the race got underway, it was a characteristically chaotic opening set of corners with Floersch doing an excellent job to take smart evasive action, ending lap one in an impressive 11th as the safety car was deployed.
When racing resumed on lap five, the close-quarters racing continued with Sophia dropping to 14th after contact with Nikita Bedrin at Ascari which led to tie rod damage. With a number of fast drivers out of position, combined with the powerful DRS effect, maintaining position was a challenge and Floersch was shuffled back to 19th by lap eight.
As the second half of the race began, Sophia settled down into her rhythm and started to make her way forward, gaining positions on successive laps to move into 17th by lap 11. Now with sizeable gaps both ahead and behind, the PHM Racing by Charouz driver could aim to improve her lap times and close in on a top-15 position. After losing out to debutant Joshua Dufek on lap 16, Sophia enjoyed another tight battle with Bedrin on the final lap of the race to cross the line 18th, before being promoted to 16th following post-race penalties for drivers ahead. This was Sophia’s fifth consecutive top-20 finish, with her lowest result in this run being an 18th place result, underlining her progress in FIA Formula 3.
Lining up 18th for race two, Sophia made another confident start and gained two positions on the opening lap as the safety car was once again deployed for a first-lap incident. Upon the restart, Prema Racing’s Dino Beganovic found a way past, before Bedrin came out on top in another close battle, with the PHM Racing by Charouz driver falling to 18th by lap six. Following a second neutralisation period, Floersch was in 19th and with a sizeable gap behind, she could focus forward in the second half of the race.
A third safety car period of the race on lap 13 gave Sophia a further opportunity to gain places and after taking the restart in 18th, a multi-car incident at Curva Grande saw Floersch receiving contact and subsequently losing time with the safety car deployed once again, having been briefly in the top ten. Although gaining one position to move up to 17th, a more fortunate series of events could’ve seen the PHM Racing by Charouz driver progress into the points-paying positions.
With a number of cars ahead receiving damage, Sophia restarted in 15th with just one lap to go. Taking the checkered flag in 17th, Floersch was promoted to 13th following post-race penalties for drivers ahead to claim her fourth top-15 result of the season, all of which have come in the final three rounds of the season.
"Final furioso in Monza. With P13 in the feature race, it was a conciliatory end to an exciting season", Sophia commented.
Sophia displayed excellent racecraft across the weekend to end the season with two strong results, underlining her increase in confidence which saw her make history with a points finish at Spa-Francorchamps.
"The starting position at the beginning of the year: not a single day of testing" - Floersch told us, summing up her season. "A new team that had to find and sort itself out. Competing against top teams with years of experience, sorted out material, precise work processes, etc."
"Some of my competitors sit on 20-30 test days in cars close to F3. Before and during the season. Me, zero. Budget beats talent", she continued. "That's why we had a mixed start, the races in Bahrain, Melbourne, Monaco, Barcelona were forgettable due to mistakes."
"The highlights were certainly the Red Bull Ring and Spa, and Monza was actually better than expected for us. After all, I was briefly P8 on the last lap until I had to go through the gravel to avoid a crash."
Although the potential for another points finish was there, the action-packed nature of FIA Formula 3 racing at Monza led to multiple safety car periods and chaotic restarts where maintaining position was challenging. Nonetheless, finishes of 16th and 13th maintained Floersch’s record of completing every lap of the season, making her just one of three drivers to achieve this feat.
"Conclusion: PHM and I have more than achieved the goals we set ourselves at the beginning of the year", she added. "The improvements are visible. Points scored. Not a single crash over the entire racing season."
"Thanks to Alpine and the PHM team. Thanks to Roland, Davide, Fran and Eduardo. You guys made it possible for me to make a great comeback to F3. Thanks to all sponsors, partners, coaches and management."
The progress Sophia has made throughout the season will be great momentum to carry forward into the off-season where she will be aiming to secure a return to the F1 package as an Alpine Junior driver.