Marlboro Masters – Jewel in the Euro F3 crown

Formula 3's blue riband event in Europe, the Marlboro Masters, takes place at Zandvoort in Holland this weekend. Marc Hynes was the winner last year, and the cream of the British series will be at the seaside circuit this time around in an attempt to emulate his feat.

Marlboro Masters – Jewel in the Euro F3 crown

Following his victory at Zandvoort in August of last year, Hynes went on to become the British F3 Champion and current British F3 series leader Antonio Pizzonia will be more than happy if he can do the same.

The young Brazilian has played down his prospects of sweeping all before him this weekend and despite leading the British series by a 30-point margin, he believes a victory is by no means a foregone conclusion.

"No way am I the favourite," he said. "I don't know the track and we'll have only two 20-minute sessions before qualifying. On the other hand you never know what might happen."

Following the revisions to the ex-Grand Prix track, which took place before last year's race, the circuit is an interesting combination of the older, narrow, twisty parts and the flatter, faster new sections. As such, an ability to acclimatise as quickly as possible to an unfamiliar track will be key in determining the victor. Zandvoort expert Jeroen Bleekemolen will be one to watch with his local knowledge from competing in Dutch Formula Ford.

Pizzonia's other main rivals are expected to be his usual British F3 adversaries in the shape of Tomas Sheckter and Takuma Sato, plus the leading lights from the French series.

French Formula 3 ace Jonathan Cochet has already proved his ability once this year with a lights-to-flag victory from pole position at Pau in June.

Pizzonia should be at the sharp end, despite a disappointing show at Croft last weekend after difficulties adjusting from testing the Benetton F1 car. He tested his Manor Motorsport Dallara at Pembrey last week, where he completed 16 laps on the Bridgestone control tyres which will be used at the Masters this weekend.

Regardless of who comes out on top, the route to get there should prove to be interesting viewing as a plethora of ambitious, tenacious young drivers all attempt to push their way to the front. After all, as Jenson Button so rightly pointed out last year: "There's absolutely no point in being second at this event."

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