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

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
2 min read

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New McLaren Formula 1 junior Martinius Stenshorne has received a Formula 3 round ban before he has even made his competitive debut as a member of the team's young driver programme.

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

And Stenshorne, alongside Dunne, will make his first start representing McLaren at Imola in F3 this weekend.

What he won't be doing is racing in F3 on McLaren's home soil in the Silverstone round, as he has been suspended from the event by the stewards for "a serious breach of the testing regulations with a sporting advantage" - which has also resulted in the allocation of four penalty points on 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 had previously run as BRDC F4 and BRDC British F3.

F3 drivers are required per regulations to seek approval from the FIA and F3's promoter if they seek to participate in a different championship - and are specifically forbidden otherwise from carrying out track activity in single-seater cars of a sufficient power-to-weight ratio.

The stewards said that Stenshorne and his camp had not sought this approval for the GB3 event (or the test that preceded it). They said Stenshorne claimed he was "not aware of the requirements" listed above - and that his F3 team Hitech's team boss claimed that it was unaware he had contested the GB3 round.

Hitech, the stewards point out, is also entered in GB3, albeit there Stenshorne ran with Chris Dittmann Racing instead.

Most importantly, the stewards said Stenshorne would've been denied the permission to run the round "due to the similarities between the GB3 car and the F3 car and the sporting advantage gain for the driver".

Hitech has announced it will appeal.

Red Bull junior Arvid Lindblad - also an F3 rookie this year, like Stenshorne, and an F3 race winner this year, like Stenshorne - was also sanctioned for an unauthorised outing in GB3.

But Lindblad only ran in the test rather than the actual round of the championship, and the stewards saw fit to declare it as "an administrative error" - presumably with a reduced risk of a substantial competitive advantage. It meant Lindblad was only fined €20,000 rather than being banned, with half of that fine suspended.

Alpine F1 junior Nikola Tsolov was also placed under investigation for "participation in another championship", which refers to his Eurocup-3 outing at Spa-Francorchamps, and has since received a ban like Stenshorne.

That series, founded in 2023, runs to Formula Regional regulations.

Tsolov, who was planning to do three more Eurocup-3 rounds this year, has been banned from the Spa round and also received four points on his licence

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