With only three rounds remaining, the 2023 FIA Formula 3 season edges ever closer to its conclusion, but there’s plenty of battles awaiting as the Championship heads to Budapest for Round 8.
The Hungarian capital city plays host to the start of the third back-to-back weekend of the campaign, with the technical but familiar Hungaroring putting the onus on the field to be on it from the get-go if they want to catch Championship leader Gabriel Bortoleto.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Budapest and the eighth round of racing in 2023.
THE FORM BOOK
Proving that consistency is the hallmark of any title challenge, Gabriel Bortoleto remains at the top of the Standings, now on 128 points. However, the Trident driver wasn’t able to extend his 36-point advantage over Campos Racing’s Josep María Martí last time out in Silverstone, as the Spanish racer moves on to 92 points following his Silverstone Feature Race podium.
Gabriele Minì has slotted back up the order into third for Hitech Pulse-Eight but has lost some ground to the leading duo on 77 points, tied with PREMA Racing’s Paul Aron in fourth. A difficult weekend for Dino Beganovic without any points means the Swede has fallen to fifth, two points adrift of his teammate.
A 1-2 finish in the Feature Race has helped Trident leapfrog compatriots PREMA Racing to the top of the Teams’ Championship, on 238 and 225 points respectively. Hitech Pulse-Eight are a further 81 points adrift in third on 144, 14 points ahead of Campos Racing.
FROM THE GRID – Nikola Tsolov, ART Grand Prix
“I’m pretty excited to be racing at the Hungaroring. It’s a completely new track for me as I’ve never been here before. From the track walk, it looks really nice with some quite unique kerbs, so that’s something to look out for. The simulator preparation was quite good, so hopefully I’ll be fast.
“I think Sector 2 is the most interesting part of the circuit where you have the nice, flowy chicanes everywhere. I was quick on the sim there and I’m looking forward to getting out on track. However, the main overtaking opportunity will probably be down on the main straight with the DRS. Then, it will be hard to follow, as well in Sector 2 as there’s quite a lot of dirty air, I think. It won’t be easy so Qualifying will be crucial.
“I think tyre management will be really, really difficult for everyone because we've seen quite a lot of graining from the new medium and soft compounds we have for this year. So, it will be something to manage with setup and driving and hopefully we'll get it right.”
Budapest’s Hungaroring has been a mainstay on the single seater racing and FIA Formula 3 calendar for a number of years. Most of the drivers have prior experience around the Hungarian circuit, which will test the teams especially in terms of car balance.
With the main straight being the only long stretch of track, the focus is very much on generating as much cornering speed as possible, with a fairly high downforce demand. The fast and flowing nature of the Hungaroring means that finding the ideal setup window will bring huge laptime rewards, rather than trimming down the wings in the search of greater top speed.
Likewise, with so many medium-to-high speed corners on the track, braking demand isn’t as problematic as it would be around other circuits on the F3 calendar. With the main DRS zone leading into the Turn 1 hairpin, that is where the drivers will be braking from their highest speed down to one of their lowest across the lap.
This weekend sees the new yellow-walled medium Pirelli tyres make their debut. Conditions are looking moderately cooler than last year, but tyre degradation could force the field into races of attrition. With overtaking opportunities few and far between, expect those who keep their tyres in check to come alive late on to capitalise on the loss of pace from those whose Pirelli rubber has already fallen off its performance cliff.
Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director
“The Hungaroring will host the debut of the new P Zero Yellow medium compound, originally planned for Imola. This tyre – with an emphasis on oversteer – makes the car more challenging to drive during the stint, forcing the driver to manage rear degradation in particular. This weekend will be a particularly testing debut on a twisty and usually very warm track, which puts a strain on the tyres in terms of traction. It’s also a very short lap – only Monaco and Spielberg are shorter – so traffic management, especially in qualifying, will be crucial.”
DID YOU KNOW?
This weekend, Formula 3 welcomes its 39th different nationality to the grid, with South Korea’s Woohyun Shin making his debut for PHM Racing by Charouz.