Exactly two months after the first race the Formula 3 season is almost over. On the Italian Monza-circuit is the penultimate race weekend, next week in the Tuscan town of Mugello the prizes will be distributed.
It was a season with ups and downs for the Dutch MP Motorsport, but team leader Sander Dorsman is satisfied. “Of course you always want more, but we have shown ourselves and are in the elevator
It’s Dorsman’s job to prepare talents for the royal class of motorsport: Formula 1. In 2013 he accompanied the then 15 year old Max Verstappen on his first serious test in Wales. This season he will be working with drivers Richard Verschoor (19) and Bent Viscaal (20), number 9 and 13 respectively in the Formula 3 championship.
“It’s been an extremely tough year. Eight race weekends have been crammed into two months. So get on your feet”, sketches Dorsman. “We started the season late and are going to finish early. We’re on the road non-stop and we’ve hardly been to the Netherlands, but we’re happy to do that”
The Formula 3 season consists of three triple headers: three race weekends in a row, one week break and then three in a row. “I remember in 2018 there was a stone and bone complaint about a triple header. Now we don’t hear anyone about that”, says Dorsman. “Everyone has prepared mentally for this peak after months in the waiting room.”
The season is not only shortened, all races are without an audience. Richard Verschoor thinks it’s bald. “Normally you stumble over the Dutch fans. Especially in Austria and Belgium. Now I haven’t seen an orange shirt.”
Dorsman also sees advantages. “No traffic jams, no crowded hotels and parking close by. We drive in an extinct area.”
“Spraying champagne for empty stands isn’t a nice picture, but that’s the change we have to pay. I’m glad we had a reasonably normal season”, Dorsman puts the emptiness into perspective.
“Motorsport was about to fall over because of corona. Hats off to the FIA motorsport federation and the Formula 1 management. They’ve arranged it very cleverly. We were the first big sport to start again. The ‘bubble’ on the circuit worked almost flawlessly and the scripts are also suitable for 2021.”
Less excited is Dorsman about the mandatory corona tests, which he has to undergo. “You’ll never get used to that. A lot of those sticks have already gone down my nose and throat. I’m approaching the twentieth test and I think I’ll pass the thirty.”
Testing, testing, testing
Dorsman: “Often it’s not so bad. A smooth test is not that painful. But sometimes you’re unlucky and you meet someone who starts stirring endlessly, so that the tears piggle over your cheeks.”
The corona tests lead to exciting paddock talk, says Dorsman. “We tell each other who to avoid. So: in cubicle 18 there’s an executioner and in cubicle 1 there’s a gentle woman. That kind of tips. I can also confirm the cliché: the biggest mechanics with the widest shoulders scream like a baby. I know who the appointees are. I already knew that after one test, but that has now been confirmed fifteen times.”
For Dorsman’s drivers there is little more at stake. They play a supporting role in the championship: Verschoor is in 19th place and Viscaal is in 13th place. “It will fly by, but soon it will be at a standstill for months. It’s almost winter”, jokes Verschoor.
“It’s a murderous pace. I didn’t experience that even in my go-karting days,” adds Viscaal. “It feels weird not racing for a weekend by now.”
Verschoor and Viscaal have mixed feelings about their results. “To be satisfied, I have to win a race and that hasn’t worked out yet,” says Verschoor. The winner of the unofficial Formula 3 World Championship in Macau (November 2019) performs erratically.
“In the first month we have, I think, performed optimally. The second race in Austria was top. I crossed the line there in second place. Then it collapsed. A lot of those as-than-weekends. That’s no good.”
Viscaal won a race in Silverstone and was also the first to cross the finish line on the soaking wet Hungaroring, but lost that victory because of a time penalty. “England was the highlight and in Hungary I was by far the fastest. I’ve retired for 2019.”
“That was a rotten season. Of course I’ve had ups and downs, but sometimes motor racing is a lottery. Sometimes it’s against the grain and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
The MP teammates want a step up. The goal: Formula 2. “I am ready for my dream, but finding money lenders is a difficult story”, Verschoor puts his finger on the sore spot. “I’m working hard to finance the transition. It costs about twice as much and unfortunately I don’t come from a rich family.”
Viscaal is also busy obtaining a ‘seat’ for 2021. “There’s a lot of hooks and eyes on it, but I’ve shown that I belong in the highest echelons.”