FIA Formula 3 Silverstone: Zak O’Sullivan leads British charge
The ultra-competitive FIA Formula 3 Championship enters its sixth event of the season at Silverstone this weekend (7-9 July), with Williams F1 Junior Zak O’Sullivan and 2023 Motorsport UK Academy Team UK driver Luke Browning leading the British charge in the Formula 1 support series.
The pair are fourth and ninth in the championship respectively, after an enthralling opening stanza of the season, which has featured six different winners in the first ten races.
O’Sullivan took his third win of the year last Sunday in Austria, prevailing in a thrilling four-way fight for the Feature Race victory. Starting sixth, the Prema driver held station for the first half of the race before a charge up the order in the final laps saw him eventually demote championship leader Gabriel Bortoleto from the lead at the Red Bull Ring’s Turn 2 hairpin.
Having also taken Sprint Race wins in Melbourne and Barcelona, O’Sullivan – who finished runner-up to Browning in his first season of single seater racing in the 2020 RoKiT F4 British Championship – is now just two points away from the tied second and third positions in the standings heading to Silverstone.
Browning stepped up to the category in 2023 with Hitech Pulse-Eight, after securing the GB3 title with them last year. Like O’Sullivan, he’s a Williams junior and has shown strong pace despite some misfortune along the way.
Browning only signed up for the season a few days before the Bahrain opener and endured a tough rookie weekend, but his best results of fourth in Monaco and second in Barcelona have shown his title-winning pedigree. Luck hasn’t always been on his side and it was a points-less weekend in Austria, so the 21-year-old will be looking to bounce back in front of his home crowd this weekend.
Making it three Williams junior drivers on the grid is Oliver Gray. In his second season of car racing, Gray finished runner-up in last year’s RoKiT F4 British Championship for Carlin and has continued with the renowned British outfit for his maiden F3 campaign this year.
MP Motorsport driver Jonny Edgar returns to FIA F3 action this year after a part-season in 2022. The 2020 German Formula 4 champion was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease last year, but in a display of immense determination he was still able to finish 12th in the standings with only two rounds missed.
The 19-year-old picked up his best results of the season last weekend in Austria, and his first points since the opening race in Bahrain. He finished fifth in Saturday’s Sprint Race, just behind O’Sullivan, with sixth on Sunday giving him more points to elevate him to 14th in the championship.
Taylor Barnard, supported by 2016 Formula 1 champion Nico Rosberg, competed in no less than three Formula 4 categories in 2022 – highlighted by a runner-up finish in the German championship, behind Mercedes junior Andrea Kimi Antonelli. After a difficult start to this year’s F3 campaign, he picked up two top-ten finishes in June’s Barcelona round.
A late addition to the F3 grid for last weekend’s Red Bull Ring event, McKenzy Cresswell returns at Silverstone for the second of his two-round deal with PHM Racing by Charouz. Currently racing full-time in GB3, where he lies seventh in points with two podiums, the Motorsport UK Academy Team UK Futures driver had a character-building F3 debut with a best finish of 17th last Sunday.
With practice and qualifying on Friday, FIA Formula 3’s race action gets underway with the 18-lap Sprint Race on Saturday morning, the grid determined by a reversal of the top 12 from qualifying. There’s no reverse grid for Sunday morning’s longer Feature Race (22 laps), so the fastest qualifiers start at the front. Every session is live on Sky Sports F1 in the UK.
Sprint Race 09:20-10:05
Feature Race 08:20-09:10