Martinius Stenshorne

F3 drivers Stenshorne and Tsolov banned for one round each

Formula 3

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Two Formula 3 drivers have been banned from upcoming rounds of the championship for taking part in other series without permission.

McLaren junior Martinius Stenshorne has been banned from the Silverstone round and Alpine’s Nikola Tsolov will not be allowed to race at Spa. The pair were found to have raced at the tracks during April without obtaining prior permission from the FIA.

Stenshorne took part in the Silverstone round of the GB3 championship for Chris Dittmann Racing, where he finished ninth and 14th in the two races.

Tsolov only participated in one race in the Eurocup-3 event at Spa and retired following a collision with a rival. The second race was cancelled before its scheduled start time due to adverse weather conditions at the Belgian circuit.

Both drivers said they were unaware the Formula 3 sporting regulations forbids them from competing in series which used similar cars without prior permission. The rule broken by the pair states no driver “may carry out any type of activity on any track with any type of single seater car that was designed and/or built to achieve a power-to-weight ratio less than 2.0kg/bhp.”

Stenshorne said his GB3 appearance was organised by his management team. Tsolov said he had planned to participate in three further Eurocup-3 races.

The stewards ruled both committed “a serious breach of the testing regulations with a potential sporting advantage gain for the driver” and therefore decided to ban each for the forthcoming Formula 3 rounds at the respective tracks they raced at. Both were also given four penalty points on their licence, coincidentally moving both onto a total of six.

A third driver, Red Bull junior Arvid Landblad, was fined €10,000, with a further fine of the same amount suspended until the end of the season, for participating in a two-day GB3 test at Silverstone. The stewards accepted his explanation that a miscommunication occurred between his management team and race team over the test.

“The stewards determined that this was an administrative error by the competitor and driver who failed to inform the FIA and the promoter about the single-seater activity as requested by article 10.4 of the Sporting Regulations,” they noted.

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Keith Collantine
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12 comments on “F3 drivers Stenshorne and Tsolov banned for one round each”

  1. Weird rule or requirement

    1. @jerejj It’s to enforce a testing restriction, so that drivers can’t spend their way to success the way Lance Stroll was believed to have done in 2016 (his father threw several million pounds at F3-level testing. At the time, the highest budget for an entire season including standard amounts of testing was about £1 m, so having a single competitor spending several times that amount on testing specifically rankled and effectively blocked a position that could – and did – grant immediate entrance into F1, skipping F2 altogether).

      By way of side benefit, it also avoids the situation F2 experiences whereby drivers stay for several seasons after they’ve outgrown the category in order to get more experience. One cannot do F3 and F2 at the same time unless the F3 races aren’t going to count for anything and one is willing to sacrifice about one F2 race out of every four in order to gain experience. The result is that the F3 seat that would otherwise have been occupied this way goes to someone else, meaning more people can do F3.

  2. I have an opinion
    16th May 2024, 21:15

    They could get off on a technicality — the rule is worded incorrectly. Its intent is to forbid drivers from open-wheel vehicles with a weight-to-power ratio of less than 2 kg/bhp, which is the same as forbidding drivers drivers from vehicles with a power-to-weight ratio greater than 0.5 bhp/kg.

    The way it’s worded now, a car with a higher power-to-weight ratio in actuality will have a number lower than 2, so it should be legal under these rules.

    1. a car with a higher power-to-weight ratio in actuality will have a number lower than 2

      Yes. And lower than 2 is “less than 2 kg/bhp”, which is forbidden.

      1. I think you miss-read the nice catch, power-to-weight vs weight-to-power

  3. If the intention of the rule is to prevent drivers from gaining a sporting advantage via increased circuit knowledge, you would think that a two-day test session would convey far more of a sporting advantage than participating in a race weekend, where track time is generally quite limited.

    So whether it was an administrative error or not, the fine for Lindblad (as opposed to a race ban) is a strange decision. If this becomes the going rate then wealthier teams or drivers could even construe it as a “testing tax” and buy their way to greater track and setup knowledge.

    1. Yeah absolutely agree. The sporting advantage rule stops exactly this, like in karting where the richer kids do hundreds of laps of testing around tracks before championship rounds. Not sure why testing and racing should be seen as any different.

    2. @red-andy I think the difference was that Lindbland thought he’d tried to do the right thing to address it and hadn’t, whereas the other two admitted to not knowing there was anything to address in the first place (and really should have done, since regulations to this effect have been in place for several years and reputable managers – both drivers having management – are supposed to know to take this into account when choosing series).

      I do not think the grace extended to Lindbland will be given again for a while, since the FIA will treat this as fair warning to the entire grid not to do this sort of thing without obtaining FIA permission directly.

  4. Another silly rule.

    How far the ‘sport’ has fallen from the days where drivers jumping from one car to another was not only allowed but even encouraged.

    Everything has become far too restrictive and far too over-regulated.

    If a driver is able to get a seat in another category then it should be upto them & the team making the offer if they want to accept it or not. The FIA should have no business dictating when/where drivers can race. Utterly pathetic!

  5. Tsolov gets away with purposedly crashing into other driver, and got banned for racing in other series.

    Do I have to say it’s a joke, or it’s obvious?

  6. This is a ridiculous rule btw, but even more ridiculous that the managers weren’t aware or thought they would get away with it.

  7. Young drivers need as many driving kilometers as possible, and modern FIA severely restricts those driving kilometers compared to the olden days.

    It’s such a unique feature for a sport that actually practicing is considered not done.

    And it’s not like top talent will be negatively affected, their talent will shine through anyways.
    Actually poor drivers won’t benefit from it, just look at Lance Stroll.

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