Relinquishing their reigning Teams’ Champion mantle to PREMA Racing, Trident are gearing up to get back in the fight for the title this season. With 2022 Vice Champion Zane Maloney and Roman Stanek graduating to Formula 2 and Jonny Edgar switching over to MP Motorsport, the Italian squad are fielding an all-new line-up.
For the first time in their Formula 3 history, three newcomers will be getting behind the wheel of the Trident cars. Euroformula Open Champion Oliver Goethe will race alongside Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine graduates Leonardo Fornaroli and Gabriel Bortoleto.
Whilst he naturally anticipates a huge learning curve for their trio, Team Manager Giacomo Ricci was full of praise for their work ethic and ability to get up to speed during the three days of pre-season testing in Sakhir.
“Generally speaking, I’m happy and pleased with the atmosphere within the team and with the drivers’ performance. For us, it will be the first time that we will compete with no one with experience. I’m quite happy, they are learning fast, and I believe that we will arrive in Sakhir ready, but I have to say so far so good.”
He added: “Leonardo, Oliver and Gabriel seem like they known each other forever already! It’s a very nice atmosphere between them, the sharing of information – this is nice. They’ve been working very hard for the team, especially in the preparation at the factory with the simulator, with the sporting regulations and the technical aspect related to the team. So far, there is the maximum dedication from the three drivers, and I’m extremely pleased with them. They’re three rookies, so I expect they will improve more through the season.”
Balancing race runs and Qualifying simulations, the trio became well versed with their new machinery – particularly Bortoleto. The Brazilian driver made four top 10 appearances across the five sessions, including topping the final day of running around the Bahrain International Circuit. After demonstrating his potential early on, the 18-year-old believes that there is still time left to be found – a thought echoed by his team boss Ricci, who remains cautious about where his squad will fit into the pecking order come race day.
“I think we did quite a lot over these three days, and it was very good for preparing for the proper race weekend. Yes, I'm quite happy with the result of today. I was missing being there the top with the other guys and even if I wasn’t in the top three on the previous days, I knew that the pace was there to make it and we showed it today.
“There’s still things to work on and every session that I was doing in the car, every session I learned new things about the car and about the track as well that I can do better. So yes, I was building up every session. I’ve felt better with each day because it's a new track for me. Even though I felt I learned quite quickly, there is always margin to improve, even after topping the session today.”
Ricci added: “We focused the most on performance and the long run simulations, dividing the day as always – one session is the quickest and is related more to the performance, whereas the other one is related the most to the long run simulations. It’s difficult to judge where we are today because we know how we are running with the car, but we don’t know exactly how much fuel the competitors are running with, if they’re running with extra weight, extra fuel etc. It’s always like this during the pre-season test.
“What I’m happy about especially is Gabriel Bortoleto was competitive in every session and was always up there and he also finished on top. I’m sure that’s giving him motivation in the team and of course, also in himself. With Ollie and Leo, we’ve been focused on other areas and Leo improved a lot during the three days, where Ollie was adapting to a different car package. I’m sure for the race weekend he will be there also, but again to have a clear picture, we need to wait until Qualifying in Bahrain.
“One positive – the amount of things that we have been able to test in Bahrain. For me, this is the most important thing, that we had enough time to carry out the full development plan related to the car. I hope that this will help us to extract and to start the season in the best way possible.
Logging mileage ahead of the first round has been a valuable experience, with track conditions roughly matching what they’ll experience at the opening weekend. Goethe already has some F3 experience under his belt, after making a two-round appearance for Campos Racing last year. The 18-year-old isn’t underestimating the challenge ahead, particularly adapting to the unfamiliar circuit and managing to retain life in his Pirelli rubber.
“I am still feeling confident after the pre-season testing. Although it didn’t go to plan and I didn’t do what I know I can do, the potential is still there to get good results. I am going to work very hard with my sim preparation, as well as my physical preparation during the two weeks in between to improve my results for Round 1.
“Bahrain is a new track for me this year, so the main focus was to learn the track properly and to be able to consistently drive with the correct style for each corner. It was also interesting to do the race runs, as the degradation on this track with this car is higher than any that I've done before, and a lot of progress was made there.”
A sense of confidence rides high through all three Trident drivers. Finding a rhythm in his new car, Fornaroli was pleased to see his physical preparation ahead of the campaign pay dividends, utilising his stamina and endurance to complete several full race distances.
“On the three days of testing, I focused more on improving my driving to put everything together and to stay more relaxed when I’m driving, so I don’t go into overdrive – especially in Quali conditions. We also worked a lot on the race pace and tyre management, which will be really important for the races.
“I will train a lot to be more ready than ever for the first race because the track and the car are really, really physical to drive. I improved a lot in this area and I’m really happy because with my trainer, I’ve worked really hard during the winter to be prepared for the first race. Then when I’m in the workshop with the team, I’m going to work on the simulator and with my engineer on every single thing that I have to improve for the first race.”
With the knowledge that every finite detail can make or break a drivers’ weekend, the Trident team will leave no stone unturned in their efforts to prepare their rookies for the demanding 10-round season. Given the progression Maloney showed at the back end of last year, it probably won’t be long before their newest stars find their form in the Championship.