Floersch F1FS

Sophia Floersch: A story of talent and second chances

As the start of the 2023 FIA Formula 3 Championship draws closer, another exciting signing joins the grid. Sophia Floersch will drive for PHM Racing by Charouz, as she makes her comeback to single-seater racing.

By Daniele Spadi

After competing in DTM and joining the world of endurance racing for a couple of years, the 22-year-old will be back behind the wheel of a Formula 3 car, chasing the dream to become the first female driver to reach Formula 1 since Lella Lombardi in 1976. But is a comeback to one of the most competitive single-seater championships the right choice for Sophia’s career?

A promising start

After many years of karting experience and a brilliant Ginetta Junior Championship campaign in 2015, Floersch started her journey in single-seaters in ADAC F4 in 2016 – and right from the beginning, it was clear that the girl from Grünwald had talent. The German had a solid rookie year driving for Motopark, and in her sophomore year in the series she scored two podiums and two fastest laps while racing against the lights of Felipe Drugovich, Jüri Vips and Frederik Vesti.

In 2018, Floersch made the step up to the F3 European Championship – the final year of the series before it was rebranded as FIA Formula 3. It was a tough season for Sophia, who only scored one point in Race 2 at the Red Bull Ring, but she was often on par with her teammates and got up to speed quickly despite missing the first three rounds of the championship.

A close call

At the end of the season, Floersch took part in the Macau Grand Prix, one of the most historic and popular races in the feeder series’ world. However, what happened during the race would change her story dramatically.

After colliding with Jehan Daruvala and Sho Tsuboi, Floersch suffered a horrific accident, getting airborne and going through the catch-fencing on the outside of turn 3, coming to a halt after a big impact against a photographer’s bunker.

As drivers and spectators alike feared the worst, the German was hospitalized and diagnosed with a spinal fracture, undergoing a difficult 11-hour long surgery the day after the race. In the end, the surgery was successful, with no fear of paralysis or any long-term consequences on the horizon.

The comeback: Formula Regional and FIA F3

But nothing could stop Sophia from chasing her dream – not even a life-threatening, almost career-ending accident. Floersch was back on her feet and ready to race in 2019, as she entered the brand-new Formula Regional European Championship with VAR.

Just four months after Macau, she was back on track, but things weren’t easy. With VAR switching to Formula Regional – a new championship with a brand new car – just days before the first race, the team wasn’t nearly as prepared as their competitors. The 22-year-old ended the season in 7th, showing great consistency as she finished every race in the points, but ultimately lacked pace in the car to fight for podiums and wins.

Just a year after her terrible accident, Sophia was back in Macau to race in the FIA F3 World Cup with HWA. Her first time with the new F3 car was a big learning experience, which was unfortunately cut short during the race as she suffered a mechanical failure during the race.

However, Floersch managed to strike a deal with Campos to race in the 2020 FIA F3 Championship. In a year filled with mechanical failures and inexperience-driven mistakes, the German failed to score a single point during the whole season, finishing her maiden F3 campaign in 29th.

Alternative paths

After an underwhelming season in Formula 3, it was time for Sophia to try something new. Floersch had already made her debut in endurance racing in 2020, competing in selected rounds of the European Le Mans Series and racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Richard Mille.

In 2021, she stuck with the team and took part in the FIA World Endurance Championship with an all-female LMP2 entry. After some good results, she took part in the ELMS season finale at Portimao with Algarve Pro Racing, where she was finally back on the podium after finishing a brilliant third – becoming the first woman to ever finish on an overall podium in the series.

2022 had more of the same in store for Floersch, as she stuck with Algarve Pro Racing in ELMS and got her second podium in France at Paul Ricard, together with former F2 driver Bent Viscaal. After some bad luck in the following three races, she was back in Le Mans, where she finished a good 5th in the LMP2 Pro-Am class despite some technical issues early in the race.

What’s next for her?

Getting back into the feeder series world was always the goal for Sophia. Her good results in endurance racing were suggesting a new path for her, away from open-wheel machinery. But when chasing a dream, alternative roads become less important – no matter the results.

Floersch fought tooth and nail to get back to single-seater racing, and 2023 will give her the chance she was hoping for. Sophia will race for PHM Racing by Charouz in the FIA Formula 3 Championship, joining Piotr Wisnicki and Roberto Faria at the Germany-based team. Getting back into a car she hasn’t driven since 2020 will be a challenge on its own – and to do that with a team that is getting their first taste of Formula 3 racing this year will only make it more difficult.

However, the question still hangs in the air: is it the right move for Floersch to get back into F3 when she was developing a successful endurance career with some strong results? The answer lies in her desire to be the first woman to start a Formula 1 Grand Prix since Italy’s Lella Lombardi in 1976 – and racing in Formula 3 is the only way she can work towards achieving her goal.

Moreover, she will be as determined as ever to show her progress compared to three years ago, as a repeat of the 2020 season will likely decrease her chances of progressing on the feeder series’ ladder even further.

Ultimately, the 22-year-old will need to do the talking on the track and start the 2023 season on the right foot. With many top-tier drivers from last season graduating to Formula 2, there is certainly a possibility for different faces to become front-runners in the series, so perhaps this is the best moment to come back to one of the most important feeder series.

One thing is for certain: Sophia Floersch is back on track — and so is her dream.


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