The lights on the 2024 FIA Formula 3 season are just days away from turning green, with the teams now dusting the covers off their cars and preparing to go racing at the Bahrain International Circuit.

While excitement levels were high for pre-season testing earlier this month there is nothing like seeing the drivers in their cars going wheel-to-wheel as they battle it out for top honours out on track.

But after months of preparation the teams and their drivers are now finally set to go racing, with the goal being to come out at the top of the Standings come close of play at Monza in September.

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It all starts this weekend in Sakhir and before it gets underway, here are a few interesting talking points heading into round one…


Multiple teams left Bahrain pretty happy with their work at testing but until qualifying on Friday no one truly knows where they stand in the hierarchy of things.

Given what they achieved last season, and most notably their dominant record in the category which has seen them win four Teams’ Titles in five years, PREMA will start as the ones to beat in Bahrain.

Browning was the fastest driver on days two and three of pre-season testing
Browning was the fastest driver on days two and three of pre-season testing

But while their drivers were in and around the top of the leaderboard at testing – Dino Beganovic was the fastest in the afternoon session on the final day – there are plenty of caveats such as fuel loads and tyres that mean the true pace of each team is relatively unknown.

That is the same for PREMA’s Italian rivals Trident, who focused primarily on long runs over the course of the three days. They did not threaten the top of the timesheets at all but were very happy with their work.

Will they be at the front this week or will one of MP Motorsport or Campos Racing spring a surprise? Both teams enjoyed their best seasons to date last year finishing third and fourth in the Standings.

They will be looking to make a step in 2024 towards title contention and a fast start this weekend in Bahrain would go a long way to doing that.

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ART Grand Prix will also be looking to bounce back after finishing eighth last year. It represented a decline from their usual position of third which they had placed the previous four seasons.

The French team won in Bahrain back in 2022 with Victor Martins, and Nikola Tsolov, in particular looked very strong in testing.

But so did Hitech Pulse-Eight driver Luke Browning, who was fastest on days two and three. He and the team will be hoping that testing is representative of how things will pan out in Bahrain as it could see him claim his first F3 victory.

Another driver and team pairing hoping for the same are Noel León and Van Amersfoort Racing, with the Mexican driver having led the way on day one. Could the rookie spring a surprise this weekend? Only time will tell…

Gabriel Bortoleto won the first Feature Race of the year in Sakhir last season
Gabriel Bortoleto won the first Feature Race of the year in Sakhir last season


Starting fast has been the recipe for success for each F3 Champion, as all five previous Drivers’ Title winners won a race on the opening weekend.

Gabriel Bortoleto won the Feature Race last year in Bahrain, as did Victor Martins a season earlier. Dennis Hauger scored victory in race three of round one in Barcelona back in 2021.

Robert Shwartzman was the Feature event winner at the same Catalunya venue back in 2019, while Oscar Piastri won the same race at the Red Bull Ring in 2020.

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This could be a mere coincidence and while starting fast and winning in Bahrain would not guarantee the title to any driver it would certainly not hurt anyone’s chances come Monza in September.

With plenty of experience under their belts, second year drivers Dino Beganovic and Gabriele Minì – who qualified on pole in Sakhir last season – will be targeting those fast starts at PREMA, as will Trident’s Leonardo Fornaroli, Hitech’s Browning, and ART’s Tsolov and Mansell.

Oliver Goethe finished second at the 2023 Sakhir Feature Race so will be hoping to go one better this week, and his Campos teammates Mari Boya and Sebastian Montoya will also be eager to get ahead early.

Sztuka is one of 17 rookies making up the 2024 grid
Sztuka is one of 17 rookies making up the 2024 grid


But as Bortoleto, Piastri, and Shwartzman have shown in the past, a rookie winning and putting themselves in contention for the title straight away can never be ruled out.

The MP Motorsport trio of Kacper Sztuka, Alex Dunne and Tim Tramnitz all performed well in testing as did VAR’s Leon, Trident’s Sami Meguetounif and Santiago Ramos, not to mention the 11 other newcomers in the field.

In their first seasons, how they adapt to the track is one thing, but how they adjust to life in their new teams, cars, and surroundings will be huge for their confidence going into round one.

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There are many things that they would not have experience before at previous categories such as the tyres, so the post-season tests and pre-season outings are crucial to their development.

If they adjust quickly, while also leaning on the experience within their own teams, the idea of a rookie claiming victory this weekend cannot be ruled out.