Formula 3 rookie Marcus Armstrong has wrested back the championship points lead in the premier FIA European Formula Three Championship.
His fightback came as team-mate Mick Schumacher took his first F3 win. The result, hard won as it was, is the perfect birthday present for the young Kiwi, who turns 18 today (July 29).
Racing in wet conditions on the fast and demanding 7.004 km Spa circuit in the Belgian Ardennes, Armstrong set the seal on a difficult weekend that had until race three netted him only points for a sixth placing, battling through to third and a well-deserved podium that put him back in the championship lead.
“Conditions weren’t easy and at the beginning, I was struggling a bit while Robert was quite quick. Then as the track dried out I felt a lot more comfortable, especially in the final three laps or so. I think we will come back really strongly in the next few races.”
It was his seventh podium finish of the season. He is one point ahead British driver Dan Ticktum.
“We know consistency counts, and the competition is very close. The battle with Mick and Robert in this race was really intense.”
Meanwhile Mick Schumacher won his first ever Formula Three race. Off the start, Armstrong had taken the lead with team-mates Guanyu Zhou and Schumacher forming a Prema Theodore Racing wedge aimed directly at the podium. As the leaders returned from the opening laps, the race order was Armstrong-Robert Schvartzman and Schumacher, all Prema drivers.
The trio formed a drafting group that pulled away from the field and were then locked in battle for the win. While Armstrong and Shvartzman fought for the lead, Schumacher timed his move and took second from the Russian driver. He then went side by side with Armstrong at the famous Eau Rouge corner and went through to lead and win.
The next races of the season are at Silverstone (UK) in three weeks. Marcus Armstrong races with the Prema PowerTeam and is a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy.
Marcus Armstrong (PREMA Theodore Racing): “The battle with Mick and Robert was really intense. Robert had a better exit off the first corner and overtook me. I then wanted to follow him, but Mick was quite fast and was also able to overtake me. At the beginning of the weekend, I was still having some issues, but now, I came back strongly with third place.”