Dijon: SG Formula weekend summary

SG Formula confirms on home ground All eyes were on SG Formula to see how they would fare in the French leg of the Formula 3 Euro Series at Dijon-Prenois, three weeks after Andrea Caldarelli's podium finish in Barcelona. The Italian driver's 5th...

SG Formula confirms on home ground

All eyes were on SG Formula to see how they would fare in the French leg of the Formula 3 Euro Series at Dijon-Prenois, three weeks after Andrea Caldarelli's podium finish in Barcelona. The Italian driver's 5th best qualifying time and 4th place in the race, together with the win in the rookies' category, are proof that the La Rochelle-based team is showing great end-of-season form. To top it all, Jules Bianchi became 2009 champion two years after having achieved his first single-seater title in Formula Renault 2.0 with SG Formula.

This second significant result in a row is especially important for SG Formula. This season the regular Formula 3 line-up consists of two young drivers sponsored by the Toyota Young Drivers Programme , which is the world number one car manufacturer's "Junior team". The uncertainty surrounding the future of Toyota in Formula 1 also impacts the lower echelons of the racing hierarchy but SG Formula is determined to carry on in F3. At a time when a recent IPSOS opinion poll shows that 80% of French people recognize that motor racing has a "driving role in the area of technological innovation", we must remember that Formula 3 does not just boast an unbelievable fund of young talent. The fact that it is also one of the last non-monotype single-seater category makes it additionally interesting from the engineering standpoint.

Team Manager Stephane Guerin said as much to us at this crucial point in the season: "We've developed the car considerably since the end of 2008, which was the year in which we started in F3. We began by confirming technical innovations and have been working more on the operational side for some months now. This approach has enabled to go up a gear, so to speak. We need to prepare for what comes next and are currently involved in important discussions on the team's future. It's all a question of R&D. We want to set up a genuine design office, with Formula 3 to the forefront technologically, to function in tandem with our other parallel involvements. For us, therefore, a good end to the season is vital. Featuring in the Top 5 and being in the mix for a podium place for the last two meetings is a very positive result. Both the car and the driver, Andrea Caldarelli, have got better. I dare to hope that Toyota will continue to support Andrea as he deserves. He's clearly the best thing to have come out of the programme. Andrea doesn't just have talent, he's a worker and has never given up after the early season disappointments."

After his phenomenal 18 podium places in Formula Renault 2.0 last year with SG Formula, the young Italian is improving with every race at the wheel of his orange and black F3. At Dijon he was brilliant in qualification, which earned him 5th place on the grid for Saturday's race. He also staged several attacks on Mika Maki before finishing in the Finn's wake in 4th position. All of this enabled him to achieve victory in the Formula 3 rookie drivers class, ahead of eight other drivers. Sunday's first lap crash, which left six cars out of contention and caused the race to be interrupted, put him back from 5th to 9th place. Shortly after the restart, Andrea had just overtaken Wickens and was attempting to do the same to a Bottas in difficulty when the latter's car swung back across the track. The resultant contact meant an inevitable loss of control and a collision with a third car which ended up on the crash barrier.

Henkie Waldschmidt's performance was a much more subdued affair. The Dutchman could do no better than 14th place in the qualifying session and 13th in the first race. His involvement in the first lap pile-up in race 2 meant a return to the pits, where the SG Formula mechanics had to repair his front wheel axle unit. Back on the track behind the pack, he hit the wall on the 12th lap.

The 2009 Formula 3 Euro Series will come to an end at a Hockenheim stadium probably as crowded as ever for the 24 and 25th October event. The Germans love their motor racing too!

-credit: sgf

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About this article
Series F3 Europe
Drivers Mika Maki , Henkie Waldschmidt , Jules Bianchi