Marcus dedicates somber victory at Spa to the memory of Anthoine Hubert
As the Formula 3 paddock reconvened after the summer break at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, no-one could have foreseen the tragic turn of events that would unfold. Under a dark shadow of the loss of a talented young driver in Formula 2 sprint race on Saturday afternoon, Marcus Armstrong took to the rostrum for his second win in the series, a victory which he respectfully dedicated to his comrade.
Back in the seat on Friday, it was soon apparent that traffic would pose a challenge for the 30-strong field as they took to the track for practice around the majestic Spa circuit. Standing at 7.004km long, the track which weaves through the Ardennes forest, provides many challenges for the young drivers and Marcus prepared to tackle the weekend with the same resolute determination as always.
As qualifying got underway, Marcus was aware that traffic was really holding back his chances, so made the decision to gamble on one push lap rather than two. However his gamble didn’t pay off and he was caught up at the final corner which saw him pushed down to a P19 start for the opening race.
With confidence in his ability and understanding the benefit of slipstream and DRS along the long Kemmel Straight, Marcus knew he could progress in the race and set his sights high on claiming the reverse pole position by finishing in P8.
In a masterclass from the Kiwi driver, he certainly made good on his ambitions, climbing as high as P12 by Lap 5. Not holding back on his charge, a supreme pass came on Sargeant at La Source, where with impressive defending and using DRS to his advantage he managed to hold the position.
Further passing Lawson and Verschoor in quick succession, Marcus was running in P9 and within reach of a strong finish. Piling the pressure on, he was consistently running right on the back of Fewtrell’s tail, eager to make his move. Forcing a mistake, Fewtrell locked up slightly which eventually allowed Marcus to take 8th place to the flag, earning pole position for Sunday’s race.
Sadly, the heartbreaking events of Saturday evening were to cast a dark cloud over the motorsport community, as the Formula 2 driver and reigning GP3 champion Anthoine Hubert tragically lost his life as a result of a devastating crash at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. With heavy hearts and racing in their blood, the stoic Formula 3 grid gathered for a moment’s silence in dedication to the talented young racer, before taking to the track in honour of his memory.
With Marcus leading the charge from the front, he managed to hold his advantage into the tight turn one and pull out a gap to the chasing pack of almost 2 seconds by the 4th tour of the circuit. Unfortunately a heavy crash for Laaksonen into the tyre barrier, from which it was confirmed he was safe and well, brought out a lengthy safety car period. With the pack bunched up, it relied on Marcus to control the race and master the restart if he was to keep his lead. Despite the threat of cold tyres, darting at the ‘Bus Stop’ chicane, the Kiwi driver eagerly pulled away from his rivals. Racing through an incident-packed race, he opened up his advantage lap after lap, crossing the line 4.5s ahead to take his second race victory of the season, along with points for the fastest lap.
Leading a somber yet poised podium, respectfully forgoing any celebration, Marcus dedicated the race to Anthoine Hubert alongside Tsunoda, Shwartzman and Prema Team Principal René Rosin.
“We had a good start and I managed to open up a gap a little bit. Then we were fast and the car felt pretty good. My thoughts are not to the race though, but to what happened yesterday. It was very difficult to race in these circumstances today, but we did the best we could.”
Marcus Armstrong sits 4th in the championship standings with 119 points, closing the gap to his nearest rival to just 3 points. The championship resumes next weekend in Monza, where the Ferrari Driver Academy star will look to impress on team soil.