Martins controversially crowned F3 champion under red flag as Maloney wins final race

Formula 3

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Victor Martins narrowly emerged the FIA Formula 3 champion under a red flag as the final race of the season did not reach full distance.

Martins held a slim six point lead coming into the final race. He had a total of 127 points to Isack Hadjar’s 121, with Oliver Bearman’s enormous charge up the grid in yesterday’s sprint race putting him on 114, only 13 points off Martins. Mathematically still in contention remained Zane Maloney and Roman Stanek, both on 109 and Arthur Leclerc with 101 points.

Alexander Smolyar had taken pole, Maloney alongside him on the front row and Stanek and Martins on the second. Leclerc started fifth, while a crash during qualifying had put Hadjar well back in 16th.

Maloney snatched the lead on the first lap, relegating Smolyar to second with Martins behind him. Meanwhile Bearman and Leclerc went two-wide, nearly colliding. Eventually Leclerc relented, tucking in behind Bearman after the Roggia chicane.

David Vidales, enduring a miserable final weekend of the year, made lap one contact with Rafael Villagomez, both of their races ending in the gravel on the entry to the first Lesmo, prompting a Safety Car to be immediately called.

The race restarted on lap four, Maloney taking a very early restart and almost managing to break the tow to Smolyar. However, Smolyar out-braked Maloney into turn one, barely holding onto it through the first chicane and allowing Martins through past first Maloney and then into the lead.

On lap seven, Martins was shown a black-and-white flag as a final warning for weaving on the straight.

Maloney managed to take the lead via a DRS pass just befor a turn one cluster that narrowly avoided seeing any cars retire on lap nine. Stanek and Leclerc ended up having to weave around the runoff after squeezing Smolyar, who began dropping down the order with what he reported as broken suspension. Bearman moved up to third and Martins made the wise choice to avoid taking damage, losing the race lead but keeping the championship advantage.

Martins did not resist a move from Bearman too hard, on lap 12. Although holding on to third meant he was safe from Bearman, he had to finish fourth in order to win the title if Bearman moved into the win.

Bearman attempted a pass for the lead on lap 16 but Maloney defended, with Bearman being forced to take the shortcut through the chicane and stay behind. Shortly after, a Safety Car was called after Kush Maini and Brad Benavides crashed out of the second Lesmo, both cars ending up on the grass and in the wall on the inside.

There was a red flag called with five laps to go, in order to clear Maini and Benavides’ cars. During the red flag, Martins was issued a five-second time penalty for four track limits violations, putting his championship seemingly under threat for the final four laps.

However, shortly afterwards, the race director announced that the race would not be resumed. Confusion reigned in the pit lane as neither Martins, his team or the other drivers were aware how the championship would be decided.

Eventually, Jonny Edgar and William Alatalo also received five-second time penalties for track limit violations. Alatalo had been initially promoted to third by Martins’ penalty, his own penalty subsequently putting Jak Crawford on the podium and Martins back to fourth.

Maloney won the race, Bearman second, Crawford third and Martins fourth. Consequently, Martins takes the title with a lead of five points over Maloney, seven from Bearman.

Maloney takes second in the 2022 championship, Bearman third, Hadjar settling for fourth after collecting two points for ninth place.

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Formula 3 Italy feature race results

Position Car Driver Team
1 3 Zane Maloney Trident
2 6 Oliver Bearman Prema
3 5 Jak Crawford Prema
4 7 Victor Martins ART
5 4 Arthur Leclerc Prema
6 2 Roman Stanek Trident
7 25 William Alatalo Jenzer
8 1 Jonny Edgar Trident
9 18 Isack Hadjar Hitech
10 31 Reece Ushijima HWA
11 26 Zak O’Sullivan Carlin
12 23 Ido Cohen Jenzer
13 27 Brad Benavides Carlin
14 29 Franco Colapinto HWA
15 12 Kush Maini MP
16 16 Alexander Smolyar MP
17 21 Hunter Yeany Campos
18 24 Federico Malvestiti Jenzer
19 14 Laszlo Toth Charouz
20 10 Caio Collet MP
21 19 Nazim Azman Hitech
22 28 Enzo Trulli Carlin
23 15 Alessandro Famularo Charouz
24 9 Juan Manuel Correa ART
25 17 Kaylen Frederick Hitech
26 22 Pepe Marti Campos
27 11 Alexander Smolyar MP
28 8 Gregoire Saucy ART
29 30 Rafael Villagomez HWA
30 20 David Vidales Campos

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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10 comments on “Martins controversially crowned F3 champion under red flag as Maloney wins final race”

  1. Aside from all the controversy, first non-Prema driver to win FIA F3.

    1. @wsrgo how is that relevant when its a level playing field in a fixed spec series with inexperienced drivers and teams? The only difference is who can throw the most money at a team to have the best personnel and be able to spend 1000s hours in simulator (similar to lance stroll) to get an unfair advantage over the course of a season.

      Zane Maloney coming from Barbados with zero motorsports history finishing runner up in the championship after wining 3 feature races in a row is far more impressive!

      1. @ccpbioweapon It’s a standout feat in that 3 years ago the Premas finished 1-2-3 in F3 with Shwartzman, Armstrong and Daruvala, none of them tremendously great talents.

  2. 2021 Abu Dhabi GP

    1. Kind of opposite.

    2. Too many farcial stewarding throughout the race.

  3. “It’s called a motor race”

  4. I haven’t seen the race yet, but what is controversial about this exactly? In many programmes a red-flagged support race would not usually resume, especially with so little of the race to run, as it risks disrupting the timings for the rest of the event. And unless one or more of the time penalties was not deserved (i.e. the track limits actually weren’t violated) then their application shouldn’t be controversial either.

    1. @red-andy In hindsight I would say the decisions to not resume the race (to avoid pushing out F2), and the penalties were all understandable. However the timing of them, and the delays it took to implement the finishing order, perilously close to a complete disaster. For almost half an hour we were facing the prospect of a championship battle being decided by a combination of stewards’ decisions, in particular whether a restart would completely ruin Martins’ title just by a single 5-sec penalty. I think the conclusion is ok, but the stewards nearly backed the entire series into a PR disaster.

  5. Bearman fans argue that he could have won the race, and that would had gave him the title.

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