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Feeder Series Preview: Spielberg

Written by Juan Arroyo, Edited by Sean McKean

Credit: Rudy Carezzevoli - Formula 1/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images

Formula 2

The Formula 2 season crosses the halfway point in Spielberg this weekend, featuring another step in an enthralling battle for the drivers’ title and an opportunity for Prema to stake their claim as potential champions early.

Prema will consider themselves absolute contenders coming into Austria. They dominated in Barcelona, with Frederik Vesti taking the championship lead with a win on Saturday, while Oliver Bearman converted pole position into victory in the Feature Race. Five of the last six races have been won by a Prema car, a record they will look to increase to seven come Sunday.

Théo Pourchaire has kept hopes alive at the ART camp, trailing Vesti only by 11 points. The Sauber junior driver has scored a podium in all but one round up to now, but he’s been let down by his consistency across the full weekend compared to his Prema rival, similar to last season against MP Motorsport’s Felipe Drugovich.

In the other ART garage, this weekend is crucial. Victor Martins can further cement his return to form after a less than ideal start. The reigning FIA Formula 3 champion had a run of five scoreless races from Jeddah to Monaco (including Feature and Sprint). Martins served up two podiums in Barcelona, a reminder to everyone, but especially himself, of what he is capable of behind the wheel.

Over at DAMS, Ayumu Iwasa’s stint at the top of the standings was short-lived, but his form in Sprint Races has kept him in the fight thus far. A Feature Race win would do the Red Bull junior a huge favour in his bid to win the title—and potentially a Formula 1 seat at AlphaTauri—if things go his way.

Hitech Pulse-Eight, a disappointing eighth in the standings, will be in the headlines this week for different reasons. The team confirmed they had secured the necessary funding to enter Formula 1 on Monday after Kazakh businessman Vladimir Kim acquired a 25% stake in Hitech Global Holdings.

Van Amersfoort Racing’s Richard Verschoor is one to watch with an ongoing points-scoring streak of five races. Despite his lack of podium finishes in 2023, Verschoor is sixth, seven points off Dennis Hauger. One final push to consistent podiums will elevate the Dutch outfit’s standing exponentially, but so far it hasn’t happened.

Formula 3

Pepe Martí’s spoiling of his home crowd with a Feature Race win in Barcelona was also colossal proof of his progress. Qualifying woes held back the Campos driver’s points-scoring efforts earlier in the season, but a pole position in the last round is an indication of a change in the tide.

It’s now been two consecutive rounds for Gabriel Bortoleto without a podium, but the Trident driver has finished inside the top six in all but one race all season. Getting back inside the top three will be in securing the title early for Bortoleto, who has had an enviable start to this point.

Whether Martí can close the gap depends on his qualifying, as his race pace has started to look on par with the Brazilian’s.

Gabriele Minì enjoyed a revival to his championship hopes after storming to victory in Monaco, but a scoreless round in Barcelona has made the job far tougher for the Hitech Pulse-Eight driver.

Minì is now 36 points off championship leader Bortoleto, but as far as time is concerned, midway through the calendar is where the Italian could be expected to start performing to the level most are accustomed to.

At Jenzer, Taylor Barnard is proving himself as one of the most consistent drivers on the grid with a streak of consecutive points finishes of his own. Taking into consideration his results in Formula Regional Middle East, this could soon be called his breakout year.

Elsewhere, McKenzy Cresswell will join PHM Racing, replacing the outgoing Piotr Wiśnicki in the #31 car. Wiśnicki managed a best result of 18th in the Monaco Sprint Race, tied for PHM Racing’s best in 2023.

Credit - Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images

This weekend’s action takes place at the Red Bull Ring, and here's some information about the event that you will need to know:

  • Just ten corners (nine to the viewers that don’t count the left kink at the end of the second straight) make up the 4.318 km (2.683 mi) circuit.

  • The circuit features significant elevation changes, with uphill and downhill sections throughout.

  • A circuit characterised by its long straights, Turn 2 and Turn 3 are often prime overtaking spots with DRS available before each.

  • Track limits during qualifying and races are especially enforced at Turn 10. In a sharp, downhill, high-speed corner, drivers will be penalised for not having at least two wheels on track.

  • The iconic large bull sculpture, ‘Stier’, sits between Turn 7 and Turn 8. And yes, it definitely makes for great viewing.

  • Frederik Vesti claimed F2 Pole Position in 2022, with a time of 1:14.123.

  • Isack Hadjar claimed F3 Pole Position in 2022, with a time of 1:19.759.


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