Bouncing back into the points, Marcus Armstrong ran a strong and collected weekend at Silverstone, as the FIA Formula 3 Championship reached the halfway stage. Following misfortune at the Red Bull Ring, the Kiwi driver was eager to get back in the racing seat, where he added another podium and a haul of points to his championship campaign.
Silverstone’s 5.901km circuit boasts a series of complex corners and thrilling high-speed sections, making it firm favourite among racers. A thrilling rollercoaster ride, awarding those who brave an overtaking move through its infamous corners.
With practice sessions focusing on car setup, qualifying was the first real showing of pace for the Prema driver. Rising to the challenge, Marcus easily laid down the marker for the field, placing himself in provisional pole position. But in the final moments he was pipped to the post by Vips, by an invisible margin of just 0.096s between them, Marcus put himself in prime position for success, qualifying on the front row for Race 1.
"Qualifying was alright, we were very fast in the first run. Then in the second, I made a mistake when the tyres were at their best. I'm a bit disappointed to miss pole but overall I'm happy to be on the front row again. Now we can fight tomorrow."
Bright and early on Saturday morning, the crowds were treated to another thrilling race from the FIA F3 grid. Suffering a hampered launch off the line, Marcus had his work cut out for him as the race got underway, but as stalwart ever, the spirited Kiwi put his head down and set about claiming back positions from 5th on the road. Seizing his chances and confident in his machinery, Marcus capitalised on a battle between Pulcini and Lundgaard to take 4th from Pulcini, before storming by Lundgaard for 3rd. Under pressure from the chasing pair, Marcus used every inch of track to keep them at bay, in a defending masterclass. Eventually a virtual safety car brought some much needed breathing room and an opportunity to drop the pair if he timed his restart correctly. With superb accuracy, he succeeded and pulled a mighty margin and put himself in contention to fight his teammate for 2nd. On the move, when Daruvala went wide Marcus took his chance to see the pair run wheel-to-wheel with confidence, but with the better line Daruvala kept the position and Marcus’ advances were unfortunately cut short by a safety car. Maintaining a hard earned third place, the 18-year-old racer crossed the line to end another race on the podium.
Speaking of his race, Marcus recapped on a difficult charge:
"The start was strange. I had a bad launch and then everyone was passing me which I wasn't worried at the time because we had the pace and it wasn't the end of the road. Quite early in the race it was clear that the car was good and the pace strong. The VSC and the safety car weren't ideal for me, hampering the momentum that I had. Plus it is difficult to overtake once you arrive at the front two as they weren't making mistakes so it was never going to be easy…"
Fighting to fourth
Early on Sunday morning, the challenge was reset and the Ferrari junior was ready to attack from 6th on the grid. In a heated first lap, excitement ramped up, with Marcus hooked in a three-way Prema battle. Running cleanly, Marcus awaited any opportunity that arose, always keeping his nose firmly in with a sniff of working his way through the pack. With Daruvala and Piquet going head to head, Marcus was waiting in the wings, ready to strike. When drama struck ahead, the pair colliding and spiralling off the track, lightning quick reactions allowed Marcus to stay out of trouble and claim 5th on the road. Pushing to the very end, he performed a slingshot on Lundgaard in the closing stages to take 4th at the flag.
Leaving Silverstone with a 3rd and 4th place respectively, Marcus ensured his points paying run continued, treating crowds to a display of his poised and well-judged racing prowess, earning himself praise from fans and commentators alike.
With 77 points, Marcus Armstrong sits 4th in the championship standings, and is determined to push his pace again next time out, when racing resumes at the Hungaroring on the 3rd-4th August.