In a shock move Charouz announced on Wednesday that it would immediately replace FIA Formula 3 drivers Enzo Fittipaldi and Reshad de Gerus with Hunter Yeany and Zdenek Chovanec. Just who are these drivers who will make their F3 debut at Spa this weekend?
By Jeroen Demmendaal and Floris Visman
While the reasons for the replacement of not one but two drivers are unknown, it is expected that Enzo Fittipaldi will step up to Formula 2, possibly replacing Guilherme Samaia who is rumoured to be done with F2. It is also rumoured (but not confirmed) that Reshad de Gerus didn’t have the budget for a full season. But this is about Fittipaldi’s and De Gerus’s replacements Hunter Yeany and Zdenek Chovanec.
Hunter Yeany (16, USA)
Hunter Yeany’s switch to FIA F3 is only his latest adventure as he continues to explore a variety of open wheel series. The 16-year-old from Virginia became the youngest ever FIA F4 champion in 2020, dominating the F4 United States Championship with eight wins and six more podiums in fifteen races. The title clinched, Yeany then decided to skip the final round of the championship and instead appeared as a guest driver at the final Formula Regional Americas round.
This year, the plan for Yeany was to run an intense schedule and compete in both Indy Pro 2000 and FR Americas. As the season progressed, however, he has shifted his focus towards FR Americas and has skipped all oval races (and then some) in Indy Pro. In terms of results, the season has been a bit up and down, as the young American has struggled to make much of an impact in either series. He scored a few top-10s in Indy Pro, and in FR Americas he is tenth and last among the full-schedule competitors in the standings.
Having said that, his switch to FIA F3 comes on the heels of an encouraging one-off appearance in the GB3 championship earlier this year, at the Spa-Francorchamps round in July. If his podium finish in Race 3 there is anything to go by, Yeany might just be able to surprise some people during his outings with Charouz.
Zdenek Chovanec (17, Portugal)
Chovanec, who is not much older than Yeany, was born in Venezuela, has Czech roots (his name gives that away) but will race under the Portuguese flag. He started his single-seater career last year in F4 UAE where he finished in 7th driving for top team Xcel Motorsport. He finished on the podium twice but was beaten soundly by his rookie team mate Francesco Pizzi who took the title. The now 17-year-old would meet his Xcel partner Pizzi again that year when he went on to sign with Bhaitech in Italian F4. This time Chovanec partnered up with Dexter Patterson, Jesse Salmenautio and Sebastian Ogaard. He managed to beat two out of three while missing the final two rounds. The driver with Czech roots had a highest finish of 5th and finished in 17th.
For 2021 Chovanec joined BlackArts Racing in winter series F3 Asia. He left the series after one round though with a highest finish of 9th in three races. That meant his preparation for the season was hampered, but he did join Double R Racing in Euroformula Open two months later. He teamed up with Josh Mason, but the Brit has outperformed him in the first five rounds: Chovanec sits in 13th with 31 points and a highest finish of 7th, while Mason is in 9th with 68 points to his name.
It’s unclear if Chovanec will combine the remaining three Euroformula Open rounds with his FIA F3 campaign. There is one clash: the final EFO race at Barcelona and the F3 season finale at COTA are 22 – 24 October.
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