Sophia Floersch: making FIA F3 history

This weekend, Sophia Floersch will make her FIA Formula 3 debut with Campos Racing. As a support category to Formula One, all eyes will be on the championship, who can handle the pressure, and who could quickly become a star of the future.

Sophia began racing at a young age competing in her first race at the age of five. Soon she was addicted to the speed and adrenaline of karting, spending much of her childhood racing in championships around Europe. In 2015, Floersch made the transition to cars as she entered the Ginetta Junior Championship. Although a struggle with funding meant she couldn’t complete the whole season, she showed her potential in the races she was a part of. In the 10 races she drove in, Sophia achieved four podiums, including two wins and a pole position, becoming the first rookie driver to win both of the races over a race weekend, and also the youngest driver to win a race in the championship. The difficulty in finding the finances and sponsorship to race is an issue familiar for many involved in motorsport, however she didn’t let this hold her back for too long as in 2016 she began competing in Formula 4.

Driving in the ADAC Formula 4 Championship, Floersch finished the season 19th in the championship and with one fastest lap, before going on to better this the following year with two fastest laps, two podiums and ending 13th in the standings. After her first season in F4, Sophia had hoped to move onto Formula 3, however being in the final year of her education, decided to prioritise her studies, saying: “if you do F3, you have to do it properly”. This mature and admirable decision shows a wise head upon her shoulders, and allowed her to continue to gain experience in formula cars.

As she had hoped, 2018 saw Sophia promoted to Formula 3. Driving with Van Amersfoort Racing in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, the season was a steep learning curve, scoring one point. At the end of the year, she also took part in the F3 World Cup in Macau. However, a high-speed crash shocked the world with Floersch fracturing her spine and requiring a 17-hour long surgery. After a difficult recovery, miraculously, less than six months later she returned to racing. Although she had been signed to race in the Formula European Masters, following its collapse, she moved to the Formula Regional European Championship, continuing to drive a F3 car. As she made her anticipated return, Sophia showed no signs of hesitation, finishing the season 7th in the highly competitive championship.

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credit: getty images

Floersch was invited to the 2019 FIA Formula 3 end-of-season test with the HWA RaceLab team. After impressing, she went on to drive for the team at the Formula 3 World Cup as she returned to the Macau Grand Prix to compete in the race which so could’ve nearly ended her career only one year before. An unfortunate mechanical failure meant she couldn’t finish the race; however, many were in awe of her courage and determination. This was recognised at the 2020 Laureas World Sports Awards where she beat sports stars such as Andy Murray and the Liverpool football team to win the World Comeback of the Year award.

This weekend, Sophia’s journey to Formula One continues as she takes the step up to the FIA Formula 3 Championship, supporting F1 and FIA Formula 2. Signed to Campos Racing, she will drive alongside Alex Peroni and Alessio Deledda over eight race weekends. With the Coronavirus pandemic ongoing, the calendar is still subject to change with eight the minimum number of races this season. Although everyone on the grid will have had little opportunity to test the cars ahead of the season, many will have no doubt been putting in the hours on the simulator. Sophia has taken part in the Virtual Le Mans24Hrs, the Formula E Race at Home Challenge and the Kokoro Invitational Series over the lockdown period, which will have kept her skills sharp, as well as her previous experience in Formula 4, the Formula Regional European Championship all of this will surely be a benefit.

With GP3 and European F3 merging to create the FIA Formula 3 Championship, Floersch will become the first female driver to race in the series, following in the footsteps of racers such as Alice Powell and Tatiana Calderon, both of whom competed in the GP3 series. With Calderon going on to race in Formula 2 and become Alfa Romeo Racing F1’s Test and Development Driver, Sophia has the talent to match this and even go further. First though, she will have to impress in the FIA Formula 3 Championship, and with her links to Mercedes, who knows where her career could go?

Heading photo credit: FIA Formula 3 Championship