Dubai, UAE, 22 January 2020: The F3 Asian Championship has primarily been racing in East and Southeast Asia, until now. The Middle East, which is actually on the western side of the Asian continent, has just finished hosting its first series of F3 races (Dubai 9-10 January, Abu Dhabi 17-18 January).
The F3 Asian Championship’s Middle East Debut really couldn’t have gone better; the races were thrilling, with four different teams’ drivers claiming the top five spots in a shockingly competitive title race.
Dutch driver Joey Alders came out of nowhere to win three out of his six races, providing exactly the sort of thrill that F3 needs to deliver on a regular basis if it’s going to be successful in the long run. Even with his lead, he isn’t so far ahead of second-place that his victory is assured. Doohan has plenty of time to catch up, and he’s a good enough driver that he is certainly a threat for the title.
The races absolutely delivered on the entertainment front, with spectators enjoying some of the best F3 racing seen to date. It’s hoped, of course, that hosting the races in the Middle East will have created new fans in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Whether that’s true remains to be seen, and only time will tell. It’s hard to imagine that it didn’t work, though.
Part of the reason the races were so enjoyable was that there was no single driver dominating the competition every time. Alders won three races, but one of his wins was the result of luck, not skill, and other drivers challenged him the whole way. The top five drivers come from four different teams, which helps to keep the competition fierce.
From a fan perspective, it’s far from clear who will ultimately take home the first-place trophy. That’s a guaranteed way to keep new fans hooked and turn a new fan into a lifelong fan. That can only be good for the future of F3 racing.
Formula 3 owners, drivers, and executives also have to be pleased with their Middle East debut, and not just because the races were of such high quality. The tracks themselves were pristine and provided some of the best venues F3 has ever used. Even the rain in Dubai on race day can’t obscure the success of these races. If anything, it gave sponsors like Giti a chance to show off the quality of their products.
Since its inception in 2018, the F3 Asia Championship has been succeeding in nearly everything it’s done. It really is one of the best success stories in the racing world, and everyone watching it has known that the future of F3 racing is bright right from day one, so the success in the Emirates isn’t exactly ground-breaking or tide-turning. It’s just another reminder that F3 as a very good competition, with a lot going for it.
Racing fans who haven’t yet caught on to that are missing out. F3 has a lot to offer, not least because the uniformity in the cars means that the talent of the individual drivers is much more important. It’s a rapidly growing sport and many of the current F3 drivers are going to be mainstays in the racing world for decades to come. The Middle East is just the beginning.
Report & Photos: SEIRIM (edited)