· Five different winners across nine rounds highlights depth of talent
· BlackArts Racing stand out Joey Alders retains season-long lead heading to Sepang
· Battle for Super Licence points set to intensify scramble for top nine finish
Hot on the heels of its triumphant Middle East debut last month, impressing at both the Dubai Autodrome and the spectacular Abu Dhabi Yas Marina F1 circuit, the F3 Asian Championship Certified by FIA returns to Asia this week for the penultimate round of its 2020 season at the FIA Grade 1 Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.
Leading the stellar international field of single seater talent into the second half of the season is 20-year-old Joey Alders of The Netherlands. The BlackArts Racing driver who, although not a scion of motorsport royalty like some of his rivals, has proved a revelation this season, with four victories so far and absent from the podium just twice in nine races.
With 18 potentially game-changing Super Licence points for the 2020 champion, and the top nine finishers all earning the crucial career-boosting points, the competition is expected to further intensify significantly across the final six races of the season.
Alders’ closest title rival after Round 3 is Red Bull Junior Jack Doohan, who is set to make his debut in the FIA F3 Championship which gets underway in March. The Pinnacle Motorsport driver has taken two victories plus four podiums so far this year putting him 48 points behind his title rival. However, with a maximum of 150 points on offer over the remaining six races, the championship remains very much within the 17-year-old Australian’s grasp.
As two-time F3 Asian Teams champion Hitech Grand Prix prepares to make its debut in the FIA F2 Championship in March, driver Nikita Mazepin, who will be contesting his second F2 season, lies third on the F3 Asian Championship leaderboard. A strong and consistent season has seen the Russian collect double digit points in every race so far. Mazepin is joined by guest driver and reigning F3 Asian Champion Ukyo Sasahara, winner of Race 7 although ineligible to earn points, and Italian Alessio Deledda.
Joining Alders at Team Classification leaders BlackArts Racing are Race 6 winner Yu Kanamaru, 22-year-old Japanese W Series driver Miki Koyama who makes her first series appearance this season, and Masters class driver Thomas Luedi.
W Series champion and Williams Grand Prix Engineering development driver Jamie Chadwick, who forfeit her Race 8 win after a false start, will no doubt be looking to make victory stick this time around with the Absolute Racing squad. The Briton is joined by Australian youngster Tommy Smith.
Alongside Doohan at Pinnacle Motorsport is Japanese Super Formula Championship-bound Haas F1 reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi. China’s Yu Kuai, meanwhile, is back with Zen Motorsport.
A number of new faces will experience their first taste of the F3 Asian Championship at their home track in Malaysia: Najiy Razak and Alister Yoong, son of former F1 driver Alex, with Absolute Racing; and brothers Dominic and Gilbert Ang, Gilbert with Zen Motorsport and elder brother Dominic with Pinnacle Motorsport.
Round 4 gets underway at the 5.543km Sepang International Circuit with a 30-minute free practice session on Friday, February 14 is followed by two 15-minute qualifying sessions to set the grids for Races 10 and 12, starting at 15:00 (GMT+8). Race 10 begins that evening at 18:25. Races 11 and 12 will be held on Saturday, February 15 starting at 10:00 and 15:30 respectively. All three races will be live streamed via the series’ Facebook page and YouTube channel.