For the first time in its history, the FIA Formula 3 European Championship is going to race at Imola. For 18-year old Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam), the event at the Italian racetrack represents his first opportunity to clinch the 2014 title.
The only drivers that still have a chance of stealing the lead from the French Lotus Junior F1 team driver are Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing), who already has been signed as a GP driver for the 2015 F1 season, Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) and Lucas Auer (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport).
Ocon’s lead over Verstappen is 77 points. Great Britain’s Tom Blomqvist follows another 10 points behind with Lucas Auer a further 119 points in arrears. With a maximum of 75 points awarded during an FIA Formula 3 European Championship race weekend, this means that Ocon could follow in the footsteps of last year’s champion Raffaele Marciello by winning the title during the penultimate race weekend of the 2014 season
In addition, the grid of the Imola meeting will feature four new faces: Nick Cassidy (ThreeBond with T-Sport) who already had his first Formula 3 European Championship experiences in 2013 and is making his comeback. Virtually the same applies to William Buller (Signature) who has also got some FIA Formula 3 European Championship experience under his belt. He will race a Dallara-Volkswagen for Team Signature contesting their first race weekend of the season at Imola. China’s Hongwei Cao (Fortec Motorsports) who wrapped up the British F3 title four weeks ago and Brazilian Sérgio Sette Câmara (Eurointernational) are making their FIA Formula 3 European Championship debut this weekend.
Câmara’s team-mate is Michele Beretta (Eurointernational), one of the three Italians on the FIA Formula 3 European Championship grid. In addition to him, Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) and Antonio Fuoco (Prema Powerteam) will also represent the Italian colours at Imola. The highest-placed driver of the three Italians is rookie Fuoco. With six more races to go, the Ferrari Driver Academy protégé holds fifth place in the championship just ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi who celebrated his first FIA Formula 3 European Championship win at the Red Bull Ring.
Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin): “I live a five-hour drive from Imola, but it’s my home race nevertheless. I’m looking forward to seeing all my friends and relatives who will come to cheer me on this weekend, and I want to put on a good performance for them. On Tuesday and Wednesday, during the official mid-week tests, I covered my first laps at Imola and I really like the circuit: it is demanding and you can make a mistake very quickly, but this also allows you to learn a lot and helps you to demonstrate your skills. I think it’s one of the most demanding venues on the entire FIA Formula 3 European Championship calendar.”