Daytona experience for FIA F3 drivers

FIA Formula 3 European Champion Lando Norris as well as Ferdinand Habsburg and Devlin DeFrancesco (all Carlin) have taken part in their first 24-hours-race last weekend, the famous Rolex24 at Daytona, Florida.

After 24 hours, the Austrian Ferdinand Habsburg was the one to score the best place among these three talents. The 20-year-old finished his first endurance race on fifth position in the overall ranking. He raced an Oreca LMP2 from Jackie Chan DCR JOTA alongside Alex Brundle and former Formula 3 drivers António Félix da Costa and Ho-Pin Tung. “It was so different to everything I’ve ever done,” explained the FIA Formula 3 race winner. “The long stint times and minimal sleep aside, I had to get quick at driver changes, learn to manage traffic, try and feel at home in the closed-cockpit LMP2 car and get used to racing in team of drivers… but I loved all of it. I’ve learned so much in Daytona, but now I return to Europe and prepare my single-seater season ahead.”

Only one position behind Habsburg in the general classification Devlin DeFrancesco found himself together with his team mates Robert Alon, Simon Trummer and Austin Cindric, who shared a JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca LMP2, on sixth position. “If someone had told me before the race we will end up on P6 overall, I would have called him crazy”, the 18-year-old Toronto born racer said. “The team did a great job. We had no crashes and made no mistakes. I’m happy with P6. And next year I come back to attack the podium.”

Lando Norris had more trouble than Habsburg and DeFrancesco. The Brit finished the race on 38th position. Norris, Phil Hanson and former Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso were in the leading group, but then they had to face various problems like a puncture, a brake problem and an issue with the throttle sensor. The team United Autosports had decided to park the Ligier JS P217, before McLaren F1 test and reserve driver Norris finally took the last lap to see the chequered flag. “Every time I went out on track I had a lot of fun – that was the whole idea of doing it. It’s more of a team game from what I’m used to – you want to do good for everyone. We struggled because it seems the car and this track don’t get along. But we all kept pushing and our race pace was pretty impressive. We were sometimes the fastest car on track but mainly in the top-five. I’ve enjoyed this event a lot.”

There have been many more drivers among the 50-car-field, who have learned their basics in FIA Formula 3, such as Felix Rosenqvist and Lance Stroll. The FIA Formula 3 European Champions of 2015 and 2016 shared a Jackie Chan DCR JOTA Oreca LMP2 with Daniel Juncadella and Robin Frijns and ended up 15th overall. Four punctures, two drive-through penalties and two lengthy spells of garage repairs in the wake of the tyre blow-outs dropped the crew out of the fights for the podium. “It’s been a tough race, definitely a challenge in a lot of ways, but I’m happy that we made it to the finish line,” said Felix Rosenqvist.