Formula 3 action returns this weekend following the four-week Summer break and along with it so does the 2019 BRDC British F3 vice-champion Johnathan Hoggard.
By Tyler Foster
The 20-year-old British driver is in his rookie season in the series and after four of the seven rounds within the championship currently stands on just 1 point. After a year away from open-wheel racing in 2020, he joined Formula 3 in the second round of this year’s championship; replacing French driver Pierre-Louis Chovet at the Jenzer Motorsport team.
Since then he has only managed to finish in the top ten once, at the Red Bull Ring in the second sprint race in Round 3.
This is certainly a different challenge for Hoggard, who up to now has raced almost exclusively on British circuits in open-wheeled championships. The variety of circuits within the Formula 3 calendar has given the Brit a newfound obstacle.
“This season I’ve had to learn each circuit we’ve raced on. It’s quite difficult when you’re having to do everything at once as you find yourself mentally tired at the end of the day or at the end of the weekend, because you’re having to learn so many new things.”
Despite only having a singular point at the halfway stage, Hoggard has shown genuine pace in comparison to his Jenzer teammate Calan Williams. Williams is in his second season with Jenzer in the Formula 3 category and has begun to find his feet with a podium at Paul Ricard in Round 2. Hoggard has consistently been on par with Williams in the practice sessions so far but is yet to manage to translate that pace into qualifying.
Easier to adapt
With the next round of the championship being at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium, a circuit that Hoggard is familiar with from his British F3 days, he has a level of assurance that he will be able to get up to par much quicker than previously.
“It’s going to be a lot nicer going to a track that I know and have previously raced on. It definitely helps having it in the back of your mind that you’ve been there before. You’ll recognise certain things or certain bumps, so it should be a bit easier mentally to adapt. Having a baseline that you’ve been there before helps so you can use your mental load developing the car and getting it where you need it for the weekend.”
Strong grid position
For Hoggard the emphasis certainly is on a strong grid position and the factor of getting a tow down the Kemmel straight during qualifying runs will be on the agenda for every driver in the field. “It’s still going to be very tough with the added challenges as the slipstream is a massive part of getting a good lap time. You can race around Spa a bit better but it’s all about the slipstream up Eau Rouge and Radillion and down the very long Kemmel Straight.”
A large haul of points at Spa could definitely kickstart the season, not just for Hoggard but also Jenzer who are currently sitting 22nd out of 32 in the drivers’ standings and 9th out of 10 in the constructors’ standings respectively.
With just three rounds left, the importance of a good restart to the second half of the season is one that Hoggard has been focusing upon throughout the entire Summer break. After four weeks off, there is always an extent of anticipation for drivers and their return.
“I’m looking forward to getting back out in the car again. I’ve been keeping fit in the gym and on the sim since we last raced. It hasn’t really been a traditional summer break and I haven’t gone anywhere special or had a holiday. I’ve been focused on this round, and keeping myself fit for the busy stretch of races coming up. I’m looking forward to making some progress from Hungary, so we’ll see how it goes.”
FIA Formula 3 action returns this weekend at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, before another round the following weekend at the newly renovated Circuit Zandvoort in the Netherlands. The final round is across the Atlantic at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas between the 22nd and 24th October.
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