What a way to end a spectacular 2022 FIA Formula 3 season, with a seven-way title fight that went down to the wire around Monza’s iconic Temple of Speed. Yet despite the heroic fightbacks from two rookie stars, it was Victor Martins who covered himself in glory to become our newest Champion.
CEO Bruno Michel explores all the key topics from Round 9, from the Frenchman’s title win to PREMA Racing’s road to regaining the Teams’ Championship. He also highlights what has been a highly competitive campaign and the dedication shown up and down the paddock.
Victor Martins has become the 2022 FIA Formula 3 Champion, in the last race of the final round of the season. He came into the new year with the sole goal to claim the title, and he opened his 2022 campaign with a Feature Race win at Sakhir. He led in the Drivers’ Standings for the first five rounds of the season, until Isack Hadjar claimed the top for the next two. Martins had a less than stellar weekend at Budapest and failed to score any points at Spa-Francorchamps, which could have really hurt his charge to the title.
But a clean and calculated weekend at Zandvoort put him right back at the top, ahead of the final round at Monza. He remained calm, determined, and focused all throughout the season finale to become the new F3 Champion, something he really wished to achieve for ART Grand Prix as well. I would like to congratulate him for his very strong and mature season, and I cannot wait to see where this well-deserved title will take him next!
Behind our new Champion, Zane Maloney and Oliver Bearman have particularly shone in the second half of the season. Both scored points on debut in Bahrain, with the Brit finishing in the points in both races. Maloney claimed a maiden pole position in the second round at Imola, but he spun out of the lead at a restart following a Safety Car period. Slowly but surely, as they gained better understanding of the car and the weekend format, they both mounted a late title charge, including three Feature Race wins in a row and a hat trick for the Bajan driver. He scored 32 points in the final round of the season, his strongest result in 2022, to finish second in the championship, just five points behind Victor Martins.
As for Bearman, the seventeen-year-old Ferrari protégé impressed everyone with one win and eight podiums – the most rostrums out of anyone this season, and two more than Champion Martins. When the dust settled, he classified third in the Drivers Championship, something he can be really proud of.
A TITLE FIGHT FOR THE AGES
Until the very last race of the season, six drivers were still in contention for the 2022 title. You could feel the tension and the excitement in the paddock and on the starting grid ahead of the Feature Race. On track, we saw an intense and fair battle at the front, with all the main protagonists fighting for vital points. I am really sorry that it ended on a Red Flag and that everything unfolded in the pitlane, as we all waited with bated breath to see who our next Champion was going to be. It was definitely not the best way to conclude an exciting race and such a great season.
They may not have ended up in the top three, but Isack Hadjar, Roman Stanek, Arthur Leclerc and Jak Crawford should still be proud of their 2022 campaigns. All of them were still in contention for the title in the final round of the season. Hadjar, who had been so impressive in his rookie season, with three wins and five podiums, compromised his title chances in Qualifying, where he crashed in Parabolica on his push lap. Having to start from P16 in both races meant that he was in the least favourable position out of all the contenders. He recovered to a strong P9 in the shortened Feature Race. He finished fourth and is rightfully viewed as one to watch for the future.
Behind the Frenchman, Stanek and Leclerc also left Monza without the title, but they can still look back at their campaign with some degree of satisfaction. Stanek came back for a second full season after an extremely challenging year. He saw 2022 as a ‘make or break’ season. He took one pole position, one win and four podiums with Trident and classified fifth overall. He showed his potential, speed and driving skills. Meanwhile, Leclerc ends 2022 with one win and two podiums to finish sixth in the Championship, ahead of teammate Crawford who concluded his season on a fifth podium finish, including a win. Both had set their goal on the title and are most likely disappointed with the outcome, but they also displayed their talent in a highly competitive field.
SOME STATS TO REMEMBER
As I said before, this season has been extremely competitive and unpredictable, with 11 different race winners, seven different pole sitters, and 16 different podium finishers – including nine rookies. A total of 27 drivers scored points, and eight teams collected silverware out of ten outfits, with PREMA Racing collecting an impressive 13 podiums. That’s five more than MP Motorsport, and six more than ART Grand Prix and Trident. I also want to highlight the six podium finishes achieved by newcomers Van Amersfoort Racing.
Seven different teams were victorious, as Trident lead the pack with four wins. Five of them started from pole position, and again Trident heads the count, tied with MP Motorsport, with three poles in total.
PREMA RACING RECLAIMS THE TOP
They may not have won the Drivers’ title, but PREMA Racing reclaimed the Teams’ Championship on Sunday in Monza, after a strong and consistent season. They only showed some weaknesses at Zandvoort, scoring just 10 points, but they have been very impressive everywhere else. They claim a third title in a matter of four seasons. Bravo!
The 2021 Champions Trident have sometimes lacked consistency in the middle part of the 2022 campaign, but after the summer break, they were back to their winning ways and launched a late title charge. The gap, however, was a bit too much coming to Monza, and PREMA didn’t falter. Trident still finish at a strong second place in the Standings, and they will surely want a rematch comes 2023.
ART Grand Prix take third place for the fourth time in a row, but at least they can be satisfied with leading Victor Martins to the Drivers’ title, something they had been looking to do since 2019. MP Motorsport and Hitech Grand Prix also had their highs and lows this season, with the Dutch and British teams each claiming three victories a piece.
In this final debrief of the season, I would like to thank all the teams and the drivers for providing the fans with a very entertaining season, some enthralling on-track battles, and clean racing. The level of professionalism and dedication at this level is extremely high. It shows in the results, but also in the viewership which has increased very significantly yet again from 2021.
I really hope you have enjoyed this season as much as we did from inside the paddock. F3 will be back in action next week for the post-season tests. We may see some new faces and may get some clues as to what 2023 will bring…