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  • Writer's pictureLIAM REDFORD

Sophia Floersch returns to action on the streets of Monaco

"In the end it was one one-tenth that was missing to reach the top-12 in Qualifying and that was the deciding factor for the weekend." - Sophia Floersch raced for the second time in her career in the legendary streets of Monaco and, although she was unfortunate to miss out on sprint race pole position by just over a tenth of a second, her improved speed in qualifying shows promise.

Sophia Floersch, Alpine Academy, Van Amersfoort Racing, Monaco GP, 2024 FIA Formula 3
Photo credits: XPB

Alpine Academy driver Sophia Floersch took to the streets of Monaco for the latest round of the FIA Formula 3 Championship, achieving a best result of 19th position. It was a weekend of encouragement for Floersch who showed improved speed in qualifying and was unfortunate to miss out on sprint race pole position by just over a tenth of a second.

Sophia ran inside the top-15 during race one, before contact led to front wing damage and an early retirement. Although it was tough to make progress in race two, Floersch scored her best result to date at Monaco by taking the checkered flag in 19th position.

Floersch enjoyed a fantastic event at Imola in which she scored a pair of top-15 results. Displaying excellent racecraft, Sophia’s result of 12th in race two was purely on merit as the Alpine Academy driver regularly lapped on pace with the leaders. In her previous appearance at the legendary street circuit, racing for PHM Racing by Charouz, Floersch achieved a best result of 23rd and was aiming to improve on that with Van Amersfoort Racing.

It was a quick turnaround for the FIA Formula 3 drivers who spent just three days off-track between race two at Imola and free practice at Monaco. With track evolution being the largest of the entire season on the streets of the principality, Floersch was aiming to use the free practice session to build up her confidence in the car.

In typical Monaco style, it was a heavy disrupted session with few drivers able to set a representative lap time in dry conditions. This was because a red flag early in the session caused by Tasanapol Inthraphuvasak led to a lengthy cleanup, with light drizzle then beginning to fall. Consequently, both Callum Voisin and Sami Meguetounif found the barriers in the treacherous conditions.

With a little over ten minutes remaining, drivers took to the circuit on wet tyres with Floersch banking experience on the slippery track. Sophia’s fastest time placed her 21st in the overall classification, however it was an extremely unrepresentative free practice session.

Conditions were much improved for qualifying with Sophia drawn into Group B. Due to the tight confines of the street circuit, drivers were split into two groups in order to minimise issues with traffic. In past years, Group B has been the faster group due to track evolution, however a series of red flags ensured that was not the case in 2024.

After an early stoppage caused by debutant James Hedley, Sophia sat in ninth position in Group B with one lap remaining. The fight for reverse pole was set to be tense, however both Charlie Wurz and Sebastian Montoya went off the track at Sainte Devote and caused the road to be blocked. This resulted in a red flag with less than one minute remaining, with the drivers unable to finish their final lap and the session was not restarted.

Floersch therefore could not improve on her ninth position within Group B, missing out sprint race pole position by just over a tenth of a second and was set to line up 18th on the grid for both races.

Sophia Floersch, Alpine Academy, Van Amersfoort Racing, Monaco GP, 2024 FIA Formula 3
Photo credits: James Gasperotti Photography

Lining up on the ninth row of the grid for race one, Sophia made a good start and successfully negotiated a first-lap incident at Casino Square. The initial contact occurred just ahead of the Alpine Academy driver, with Floersch picking her way through the carnage to end lap one in 15th position. Due to the number of cars requiring recovery, together with the damage they sustained, the race was subsequently red flagged.

The stoppage lasted for twenty-five minutes, with the drivers then restarting with a rolling start. Meanwhile, Sophia was handed a ten-second time penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage on the opening lap. When the race resumed, Floersch was quickly looking to move forward despite the challenges of overtaking at Monaco, with Red Bull Junior driver Kacper Sztuka struggling for pace ahead. Maintaining within DRS range, Sophia was able to shape for a move a number of times down the front straight, before running side-by-side with the MP Motorsport driver at the conclusion of lap 12.

Contact was then made between Sztuka and Floersch at Sainte Devote which saw Sztuka retire with a puncture, while Sophia had damage to the front wing. The safety car was called for due to the stricken MP Motorsport car which had stopped on track, with Floersch entering the pit lane to retire the car. It was an unfortunate end to a race which saw the Alpine Academy driver running comfortably inside the top-15.

Following Floersch’s incident with Sztuka in race one, she was issued a five-place grid penalty ahead of race two. This would mean she would line up 23rd on the grid and would face a sizeable challenge to make progress on the twisty streets. The opening lap of the race saw many battles throughout the field and although Sophia ended the lap in 23rd, there were multiple position changes around her. Following an incident between Piotr Wisnicki and Charlie Wurz, the latter was stranded at Portier and a safety car was deployed.

Carrying some minor nose cone damage to her Van Amersfoort Racing machine, this did not appear to hinder Sophia as the racing resumed. After losing out to Campos Racing’s Sebastian Montoya, Floersch shortly returned to 23rd position as Nikita Bedrin was forced into the pits. Now chasing Alex Dunne, Sophia’s task was made more challenging with the MP Motorsport racer continuing to slow down during certain parts of the circuit to build up a gap ahead and challenge for the fastest lap of the race.

As a result, the pack of drivers which Floersch ran in became extremely tight and on lap nine, Tasanapol Inthraphuvasak found his way past. The race entered a stalemate during the middle portion, before an incident on lap 20 involving Nikola Tsolov, Noel Leon and Sami Meguetounif at Mirabeau led to a second safety car period of the race.

Sophia was now on the fringes top-20 and on the restart an incident for Laurens Van Hoepen promoted Sophia to 20th position. Good work from the marshals allowed the race to restart with one lap remaining and Floersch took the checkered flag in 20th position, later promoted to 19th following a penalty for Wisnicki.

“Monaco is always a special and legendary place to race", Floersch said. "Going into the weekend we were maximising our prep and I was looking forward to getting out on track. In the end it was one one-tenth that was missing to reach the top-12 in Qualifying and that was the deciding factor for the weekend."

Although the weekend showed significant promise without the ultimate results for the Van Amersfoort Racing driver, Sophia was still able to achieve her best finish to date on the streets of Monaco. Missing out on sprint race pole position by a tenth of a second, it was an event of fine margins with progress in the pair of races typically challenging of the circuit.

"Due to the nature of the circuit, not much more was possible in the races as overtaking possibilities are not really available", she continued. "The pace on Saturday was strong and we had some good moments but all in all it was not the weekend we had worked for. Barcelona is coming up next and we will be aiming to bounce back.”

Floersch will indeed be aiming to replicate the form she showed during the Imola weekend when FIA Formula 3 heads to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on the weekend of 22nd-23rd June.



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