Formula 3 is one of the most important steps on the ladder to Formula 1, and two of the sports top F3 graduates Max Verstappen and Lance Stroll recently sat down with Mobil 1 The Grid to talk about the importance of F3….
Stroll has made his Formula 1 debut with the Williams team this year, and it has been a tough season so far. His first race in Melbourne was at the age of 18, just a year older than Verstappen was when he made his debut in 2015. The Canadian rookie highlighted that the sport is getting much younger and that drivers are moving up the ranks at a much younger age than previously. Formula 3 as a result has become much more competitive with drivers like Esteban Ocon also part of the F3 family.
“The sports getting younger. Drivers are ready at an earlier age now, the junior categories are getting more competitive. Karting is starting at a younger age and it’s all coming sooner. Ocon and Verstappen we are all F3 kids that’s what we did. We all raced each other in Go Karts and we just grew up racing. It’s just like any sport its getting younger and younger and drivers are ready earlier”.
The championship has grown from strength to strength in recent years and has come to rival the main feeder series to F1, Formula 2. The series is a supporting act to the DTM series and Stroll says that the championship has a great calendar but also some fantastic cars. The Dallara chassis is one of the best junior cars out there and they have a brilliant amount of downforce which helps the drivers build up the confidence to prepare for Formula 1.
“The cars are really good to drive, we have a lot of downforce. We have a good calendar, we follow the DTM calendar and do most of the tracks in Europe and it’s really helped prepare me for Formula 1 as well as many other drivers.”
Verstappen also states the importance of Formula 3, citing it as one of the categories drivers should race in before reaching Formula 1. This is down to the preparation the series gives a driver and how it gets them ready for a weekend. Not only that, but the intense competitiveness of the racing as well. It is one of the most competitive in the world and perhaps provides some of the most natural racing there is. With F1 being more organic than before this year, that is a massive advantage for F3 graduates.
“F3 is a great category. You really need to do it before you step up to F1! The general preparations, how to learn, how to approach a weekend, the racing is very competitive, setting up a racing car and all those kind of things. I really enjoyed my time there.”
Both drivers have had a varied start to Formula 1. Max was making headlines and scoring points finishes right from the get go, before the shock switch to Red Bull in Spain last year and that epic first win. Lance meanwhile has shown speed but struggled to convert it to points finishes in the early stages, but refuses to be compared with his former F3 rival.
“I don’t wanna compare myself to Max. He’s Max and I’m Lance. Different teams, different many things so. It’s good to see the young drivers are capable of making that step from F3 to F1 but at the same time I have to focus on myself and deliver in my own way.
As Formula 1 ventures to Monaco, two of its rising stars have different objectives. For Max, a podium is probably his goal. For Lance, just bagging his first points finish for Williams would be a victory. Either way the future is bright for those making it from F3 to F1 and Stroll and Verstappen have shown what an important series Formula 3 is.