Nikola Tsolov Earns Maiden F3 Victory After Red Flag Stoppage

Nikola Tsolov Earns Maiden F3 Victory After Red Flag Stoppage
Nikola Tsolov Earns Maiden F3 Victory After Red Flag Stoppage

Nikola Tsolov of ART Grand Prix clinched his first victory in Formula 3, triumphing in the Monte Carlo Sprint Race from a reverse grid pole position. The race was marked by early incidents and a red flag stoppage but saw Tsolov hold his nerve to take the win.

Race Highlights

Tsolov got off to a strong start, retaining his lead as MP Motorsport’s Tim Tramnitz surged past Tsolov’s teammate Laurens van Hoepen into second place at Sainte Devote. The early laps were tumultuous, with contact between Christian Mansell (ART) and Arvid Lindblad (PREMA Racing) causing a multi-car collision at Casino Square, which also involved Joshua Dufek (AIX Racing), Alex Dunne (MP Motorsport), and Cian Shields (Hitech Pulse-Eight).

This incident prompted a Safety Car deployment, but with five cars needing to be cleared, the race was subsequently red-flagged. One notable move during this period was Hitech’s Luke Browning advancing from 10th to eighth, overtaking early season rival Leonardo Fornaroli of Trident.

Resumption and Victory

The race resumed on Lap 4 with a rolling start, and Tsolov maintained his lead over Tramnitz. Van Hoepen followed closely in third, with Noel León of Van Amersfoort Racing in fourth and Rodin Motorsport’s Joseph Loake in fifth. Tsolov managed to keep Tramnitz at bay, preventing the MP Motorsport driver from utilizing DRS to close the gap.

By the halfway mark, Tsolov had extended his lead to 2.5 seconds, while Tramnitz had van Hoepen close on his tail, with León lurking just half a second behind. On Lap 13, another Safety Car was deployed after Kacper Sztuka (MP Motorsport) suffered a puncture following contact with Sophia Floersch (VAR).

Once racing resumed on Lap 16, Tsolov quickly re-established a sizable lead. By Lap 20, he was 3.5 seconds ahead of Tramnitz, who was under pressure from van Hoepen and León. Tsolov crossed the finish line over four seconds clear, securing his first F3 victory. Tramnitz finished second, while van Hoepen held onto third despite pressure from León.

Post-Race Reactions

“I was shaking to be honest. It was a feeling I can’t explain. It’s like getting your first win in racing all over again. It’s been a while since I’ve had a win and it’s like breaking that loop, I was stuck in for a year and a half. It wasn’t an easy part of my career but now I’m happy and just need to keep working to continue from here,” said a jubilant Tsolov after the race.

Championship Standings

Despite finishing ninth, Leonardo Fornaroli retained his lead in the Drivers’ Championship with 54 points. Luke Browning’s eighth-place finish brought him within two points of Fornaroli, moving him to 52 points. Dino Beganovic, who finished seventh, moved up to third in the standings with 50 points.

Teams’ Standings

In the Teams’ Championship, PREMA Racing remains on top with 127 points, followed by Trident with 109 points. Campos Racing holds third place with 78 points, while ART Grand Prix has moved up to fourth with 67 points.

Provisional Classification from Sprint Race

PositionDriverTeam
1Nikola TsolovART Grand Prix
2Tim TramnitzMP Motorsport
3Laurens van HoepenART Grand Prix
4Noel LeónVan Amersfoort Racing
5Joseph LoakeRodin Motorsport
6Mari BoyaCampos Racing
7Dino BeganovicPREMA Racing
8Luke BrowningHitech Pulse-Eight
9Leonardo FornaroliTrident
10Oliver GoetheCampos Racing

Up Next

The eagerly awaited Monte Carlo Feature Race is scheduled for Sunday morning, with PREMA’s Gabriele Minì starting from pole. Lights out is set for 08:00 local time.

Tsolov’s impressive performance in the Sprint Race sets the stage for what promises to be an exciting weekend of racing in Monte Carlo.

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