F3: Signs of class from Leclerc

Montmelò 09 May 2021

A puncture in Race 1 affected the Monegasque’s Formula 3 debut. His climbs up the order in the second and third races show signs of promise for the coming rounds.

The result of the first round of the season does not really reflect Arthur Leclerc’s true potential on his debut in the category. The 20 year old Monegasque did not score points, but his lap times from the second and third races at the Catalunya track, in which he staged impressive climbs up through the field, demonstrated the potential that it is hoped will bring results in the coming rounds.

Qualifying.  As usual, traffic was the first obstacle to be overcome with 30 drivers on track and only 30 minutes in which to qualify. Getting a clean lap on the 4.675 kilometres of the Catalunya circuit is not easy, as Leclerc explained after securing 15th place on the grid, six tenths of a second off the pole time. “The first run on new tyres was reasonably good,” he said. “But on the following laps, first I made a mistake and then I had traffic so I was unable to set the time that I was capable of.”

Race-1.  Leclerc made up two places at the start of the first race to be 13th and he stayed there for 13 of the 21 laps before having to pit to change the left rear wheel, because of a puncture. It was a blow for the FDA driver as 12th place, which was easily within his grasp would have meant starting the second race from pole. Arthur rejoined last, taking the chequered flag in 28th place. “I’m a bit disappointed, but there are some positives to take away from this first race of the season, starting with my race pace and consistency. I could have done without the puncture, but I just have to accept a disappointing result.”

Race-2.  The result of the first race affected the second one, as Arthur had to start from the 14th row. After a lively and chaotic early part of the race, Leclerc settled into a good rhythm and began to move up the order. Consistent lap times saw Arthur move up to 20th after a few laps and in the closing stages he moved even further up, finishing 12th in a race that ended behind the Safety Car, just two seconds off the points places. “The race itself was good,” commented Arthur. “There were some pretty lively moments which was good fun and others when tyre management proved demanding. I am happy with my final position, even though I’m disappointed not to have scored points which were comfortably within our grasp if I had not had to start from so far back.”

Race-3.  The final race in Barcelona saw Leclerc start from the eighth row of the grid. Arthur dropped two places after the start, but immediately regained one on the opening lap to cross the line in 16th place. From laps 4 to 9, Leclerc moved up another two places and then got into a scrap with Juan Manuel Correa, which went in his favour on lap 10. Having moved up to 13th, Leclerc set a very quick pace and gained four seconds on David Schumacher, catching the German with a series of laps as quick as those of the leaders. Arthur tried to pass several times, but the chequered flag came too soon.

Le Castellet
.  The European Formula 3 series will be back on track from 25 to 27 June at France’s Paul Ricard circuit.