Sophia Floersch records best FIA F3 finish in wet Hungarian race 2
Updated: Jul 20, 2020
After another wet and extremely challenging race, Sophia Floersch had a clean progression to claim her best ever result in the series so far.
As the F1 paddock headed to Hungaroring for its third race weekend in a row - and first one away from the Red Bull Ring - FIA Formula 3 teams and drivers followed. It was another very challenging weekend for the feeder series, which were again forced to endure tough weather conditions at the Hungarian venue. Rain accompanied every session since Friday practice and resulted in two action-packed races.
German rookie Sophia Floersch had a positive first race and finished P18, advancing six places from her starting position.
Lining up on the ninth row for Sunday's sprint race, the Campos driver found again very wet and tricky conditions.
David Beckmann started from reverse grid pole following his 10th place finish on Saturday and shared front row with Carlin's Clement Novalak. Feature race result was altered post-race by a penalty applied to Logan Sargeant, who was stripped of his third place and demoted to seventh for an overtaking move outside the track limits.
When the lights went off for the last time this weekend for the F3 racers, it was a good start for polesitter David Beckmann, but it was even a better getaway for third-placed Dennis Hauger, who advanced to second following a poor start from Novalak. The young Norwegian - who claimed his first F3 championship points yesterday - immediately tried to attack the race leader and made a move stick on the second lap around the outside of Turn two.
Sophia Floersch lost a couple of places at the race start but made them back one lap later, as Lukas Dunner and Cameron Das collided at Turn 13 and eliminated themselves from the race. During the hectic first stages, Bent Viscaal had a contact with Igor Fraga at Turn 12 - an incident that the Ducthman would later regret: Fraga dived on the inside and went wide, making contact with Viscaal as he rejoined the track. The Brazilian retired and the MP Motorsport driver was deemed guilty by the stewards, who inflicted a 5 seconds time penalty.
Further down the order, Fittipaldi overtook Malvestiti, leaving the Italian in Floersch's clutches. Sophia spent the vast majority of the race right behind the Jenzer car of Malvestiti, but could not made a move stick.
Hauger, winner of the widely competitive 2019 Italian F4 championship, quickly built a 2.5 seconds gap up in front, as Beckmann came under pressure from Novalak. A few laps later though, the German regrouped and caught back with Hauger, as the leading pair were able to open a significant margin on the rest of the pack.
Their efforts were invalidated when Liam Lawson came to a halt on track following an engine issue. It was the third retirement in a row for the Red Bull junior, who has been enduring a brutal start of the championship. The Safety Car was deployed to allow the marshals to clear the stricken Hitech car and the action resumed on lap 9.
Hauger had a good reaction and held on to the lead, but the star of the second part of the race was undoubtedly Bent Viscaal: after claiming his first podium yesterday, Viscaal passed Sargeant with an aggressive move at Turn 3, crucially outside of the track limits.
The Dutch driver moved ahead of Novalak as well and showed an impressive pace that allowed him to quickly catch the two front runners.
Novalak reported to have "no traction at all" and dropped back to eighth place, promoting the two Prema teammates Sargeant and Piastri.
Viscaal caught Beckmann and passed him, before claiming the top spot with a similar move on Hauger. Viscaal, aware of his penalty, had an incredible progression to gain over 6 seconds from the closest pursuer. But his winning ambitions were cut short when his MP Motorsport engineer communicated him the news of a further 5-second penalty for the overtaking maneuvre on Sargeant.
Sophia Floersch made up some more positions to advance into P16, as Frederick Vesti retired following a contact with Doohan. The 19-year old German signed a 1:53.802 - her best lap around the Hungaroring track on lap 15 - and was steadily faster than Malvestiti, but never a clear opportunity materialized. On the other hand, Doohan sneaked ahead and dropped Floersch to P17.
Championship leader Oscar Piastri moved ahead of Sargeant, just as Beckmann and Hauger battled for what it would be the virtual first place. Yet, they could not afford to let Viscaal run away with an over ten seconds gap. After some more heated action, they made contact at Turn one but both avoided damages. Piastri joined the fight and made his way up to third.
Viscaal kept lapping on almost-qualifying pace but ultimately his chances were destroyed by two separate incidents involving Doohan and Malvestiti: the Australian went off due to a tyre puncture, while the Italian Jenzer driver went off and came to a stop at Turn 4 with rear wing damage. The inevitable Safety Car effectively dissolved the gaps and relegated Viscaal to 17th place after his time penalties were applied.
David Beckmann crossed the line behind the Safety Car in second place on track - which was converted into his first win of the season - ahead of Oscar Piastri and Dennis Hauger.
After an eventful race, Sophia Floersch crossed the line in 14th place, completing another challenging wet-weather race with no mistakes and gaining four places from her initial starting position. Topping her P16 place at the Austrian GP, it was her best result to date in the unbelievably competitive International FIA Formula 3 championship.
With more improvements shown on track and closer to her first top-10 result, Floersch will be back in the FIA F3 field in two weeks time at Silverstone, for the first of the two British rounds of the season.