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PaddockScout Awards 2014: Championship of the Year

by Formula Scout

FIA Formula 3 European Championship, round 10, race 3, Imola (ITA)

FIA F3 European Championship

The FIA-led revival of the European F3 series continued in 2014, with the driving strength on show improving further thanks to a number of exciting rookies joining existing proven names. And it was the success enjoyed by a couple of those newcomers in particular that marked the category out as perhaps the one junior series to watch above all others this year.

In a championship where titles are almost always won by drivers with previous F3 experience, the rookie revolution was evident from round one, when the F1 team-supported Esteban Ocon and Antonio Fuoco both won and they were joined on the race three podium by karting graduate Max Verstappen. Ocon went on a remarkable run of form that included five wins and a total of eight podiums from the first nine races. Verstappen was a winner at round two, and then scored six wins from as many races in the middle of the year. He remained a thorn in Ocon?s side until the Frenchman wrapped up the title with a round to go.

By then, Verstappen had already sealed an F1 race deal at 16. It?s an extreme case, but it re-established F3?s place as somewhere that can propel a talented driver straight into F1. There are few doubts that Ocon would be capable of making the same step.

Even though they were overshadowed by a couple of rookies, there?s no doubt about the class of the opposition. Tom Blomqvist proved he?s a match for the best when given a package deserving of his talents, and Lucas Auer continued his frontrunning pace from 2013. Last year?s runner-up Felix Rosenqvist was consigned to eighth.

To add to the spectacle, F3?s reputation for dull racing was at least partly shed this year, with the combination of the right circuits (like Spa, not like the Hungaroring) and the youngsters being in full combat mode providing plenty of excitement on certain days.

The rookie revolution will continue in 2015 with only one of this year?s top ten returning for more, but with several of Verstappen?s old karting rivals poised to make the step up, it will again be full of some of the most exciting prospects around.

Peter Allen

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