The unusual reason why new McLaren F1 junior has F3 round ban

Even the Abu Dhabi Auto Racing League

McLaren Formula 1 rookie Martinius Stenchorn has received a Formula 3 ban even before he made his debut as a member of the team's young driver programme.

The 18-year-old Norwegian, a rival of Mercedes' F1 rival Kimi Antonelli in regional Formula last year, was announced as McLaren's junior driver this week alongside fellow F3 driver Alex Dunne.

Stenchorn, along with Dunn, will make his McLaren debut at Imola in Formula 3 this weekend.

What he won't do is race in Formula 3 on McLaren's home turf at Silverstone, where he was suspended from the event by stewards for a “serious breach of testing regulations with a sporting advantage” – which also saw him suspended from the event. Four penalty points were allocated to his licence.

The reason for this is Stenshorne's participation in the Silverstone round of this year's GB3 series – the primarily British-based championship that was previously run as BRDC F4 and BRDC British F3.

Formula 3 drivers are required by regulations to obtain the approval of the FIA ​​and the Formula 3 Promoter if they are seeking to participate in a different championship – and are specifically prohibited from undertaking any on-track activity in single-seater cars with a sufficient power-to-weight ratio.

The stewards said that Stenshorne and his camp had not requested this approval for the GB3 event (or the testing that preceded it). They said that Steenshorn claimed he was “unaware of the requirements” mentioned above – and that Hitech's F3 team boss claimed he was unaware he was competing in the GB3 round.

The stewards point out that Hitech has also been entered in GB3, although Stenshorne is there with Chris Dittmann Racing instead.

More importantly, Steenshorn would have been denied permission to conduct the tour “because of the similarities between the GP3 and the F3 and the sporting advantage to the driver”, stewards said.

Red Bull Junior Arvid Lindblad – also an F3 rookie this year, like Stenshorn, and a F3 race winner this year, like Stenshorn – was also penalized for an unauthorized outing in GB3.

But Lindblad only participated in the test and not in the actual round of the tournament, and the stewards saw fit to declare this as an “administrative error” – while minimizing the risk of a significant competitive advantage. This means that Lindblad was fined just €20,000 instead of being suspended, with half of that fine suspended.

Alpine F1 Junior Nikola Zolov was also placed under investigation for “participation in another championship”, which refers to his Eurocup-3 outing at Spa-Francorchamps, and has since been banned like Stenshorne.

This series, which was established in 2023, is subject to regional Formula regulations.

Tsolov, who was planning to make three more rounds of the Euro 3 this year, was banned from the Spa Tour and also given four points on his licence.


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