Mighty Marcus ends 2019 FIA F3 season as Vice-Champion
Marcus Armstrong sealed a rollercoaster season in FIA Formula 3, with a sensational performance in Sochi this weekend. Coming into the weekend narrowly out of the championship fight, with nothing to lose, Marcus gave it his all for one last time. Which saw him claim victory in the opening race, followed by a charge to 2nd from 8th on the reverse grid. This triumphant form ensured the Kiwi driver sealed 2nd place in the Championship standings.
Nothing to lose
Heading into the weekend, Marcus was determined to improve on his position in the championship. Having won the reverse grid race in Hungary and Spa, Marcus had full focus on claiming honours in the feature race. His weekend got off to a flying start as he topped the practice session on Friday, but as has been the case throughout the season, traffic proved to be troublesome in qualifying. Performing well throughout the session, Marcus caught traffic at the end, but still managed to seal 3rd place on the grid for Saturday’s race.
Looking ahead, Marcus had a glint in his eye as he thought of his chances:
“It's a long run down to Turn 2, and I have got nothing to lose, I think it's going to be fun to watch from the outside for sure.”
Sealing the Victory
Set in Sochi, the tricky walled track offers minimal room for error and some interesting overtaking points. Poised on the grid, the 19-year-old driver made good off the line, launching into P2. Running wheel-to-wheel with teammate Shwartzman, the pair duelled until Marcus muscled his way through to take the lead. However, the battle wasn’t over, with Kari benefitting from DRS behind, he soon came back into the mix and slipped by to reclaim the lead.
Heading for the overtake on the long straight, it looked like the Kiwi had the move complete, but narrowly outbreaking himself and lacking any grip, he went deep into the corner and fell down to 4th on the road. Ready to fight and confident in his Prema machine, Marcus put his head down and found a way through to 3rd by Lap 14, knowing he had the charge to take it to the front and fought to 2nd on the road as the race reached the Lap 17.
Certain to treat crowds to a thrilling race, the Ferrari Driver Academy star made an inspired move in the final lap, on championship winner Shwartzman to claim a storming victory.
Marcus reflected on his success:
“I made it harder for myself than I would have liked in the end. I started well off the line and down to Turn 2 to take the lead. I took a risk with the clutch mapping which paid off because the grip was very low. I pushed a bit too hard trying to fight with Nico Kari but in the end, I was all out, I'm sure that was exciting for everyone. I’m really happy to have won and congratulations to Robert on the championship.”
One last time
With the championship sealed, the fight was really on for the vice-honours against teammate Daruvala. As the latter stalled on the grid, Marcus really had an opportunity to claim back valuable points and end his season on a high. Rocketing from the line once again, he immediately had the better run on Shwartzman to take P7, rising 3 places in the opening lap, it was clear he was going to continue his strong form.
With squabbles ahead, Marcus stayed clear of trouble and took advantage of the situation to pass Hughes and rise into the podium positions by only the 5th lap. Eyeing up Piquet for 2nd, sealing thrilling and inch-perfect move as they swept through the corners, gave Marcus the opportunity to chase after Vips who had managed to pull a gap of almost 3 seconds. But without the DRS or slipstream to his benefit, Piquet managed to retake the position for a short while, before Marcus took it for his own once more.
Harnessing the pace of his championship-winning machinery, the Prema driver cut into Vips lead to bring the gap down by an incredible margin, but fell short of laps to challenge for the victory. A mighty charge to second place and earning fastest lap, ensured he ended the season as Vice-Champion by a single point.
With 3 victories, 7 podiums, 3 pole positions and 4 fastest laps, Marcus Armstrong ends the inaugural season of the FIA Formula 3 Championship in 2nd place with 158 points. His strong form playing part to Prema dominating constructor’s title.