One of 12 drivers to have previously driven around Monte Carlo, Gabriele Minì was crowned the king of the streets as claimed his maiden Formula 3 victory in the Feature Race. Having already topped Thursday’s Practice, the Hitech Pulse-Eight driver seized his second pole of the year in the split group Qualifying before securing the full 26 points on offer for Sunday’s win and fastest lap.
Follow the Alpine Academy junior’s throughout Round 4, as he remained cool, calm and collected racing on one of motorsport’s most legendary venues and most importantly, closed Gabriel Bortoleto’s Championship advantage to 17 points.
“It was pretty tricky for everyone. We started in full wet conditions straight out of the pits, and I had an issue so I couldn’t really use the first 30 minutes of the session. We managed to fix it, but it was not ideal because I arrived into the last 10 minutes of the session without a single lap done. Then we went on to the slick tyres, even though it was tricky. I got traffic on my first lap, and I could only do the last lap which was a clean lap. I took it easy to not put it in the wall immediately, but it was still pretty quick.
“It’s always nice driving here, I think it’s one of my favourite tracks. Driving close to the wall is pretty cool, especially if you manage to put together a good lap. What matters is tomorrow because I think after Friday, you more or less know how your weekend will be, so we’ve got to push our maximum for that.
“In the places where it was dry, it was pretty much just one line because that’s our normal line. I took it easy and for me the drying conditions were okay because I only had one lap and I didn’t make any mistakes. The only thing was that if you try to push it to the limit, maybe if it was Qualifying, it’s pretty easy to go in too tight, get on the water and try to open your entry too much.
“For sure, getting a Qualifying lap in quickly is going to be key tomorrow. It’s always better to be in front every push lap you do rather than waiting for the last moment. Here in Monaco, it’s really easy to get Yellow or Red Flags and you want to avoid them. Crashes can happen, especially on street circuits like this. I think it’s better to be in Group B because I can have my teammates’ feedback, so hopefully we’ll do a good job and try to be up there again.”
“The session was amazing, I managed to do a really, really good lap on the last attempt we had. I think I did one of the best laps I’ve ever done, and I managed to pole it by almost nine tenths in my group, so it was really nice. Since I was P1 in my group, my only target was Dino Beganovic’s lap and I felt like I could beat it.
“On the last lap, I said to myself ‘okay, either I send it and I do pole, or I make a mistake and I go somewhere in the wall. So, that’s what I tried to and managed to keep it out of the wall. It was pretty hard to put a lap together. I was lucky with the traffic because I didn’t any during my laps, but of course it’s still hard because since it’s so close to the barriers, a tiny change on the turning point or something like that can compromise your lap time massively.
“To be honest, going from P12 there is no plan you can do before, especially in Monaco. You just need to see what happens and the only thing you can do is to try to stay out of the mess that can happen and not get a penalty for tomorrow’s race. Then from there, see how it goes. Gaining one or two positions would be nice, but in my position, it’s just about getting experience for tomorrow.”
“I managed to gain a position starting from P12. We knew it was not going to be easy to get into the points. In the end, we still got really good data and information for tomorrow’s race. I think my pace was still pretty good, I was fighting for the fastest lap even though I was in a train stuck behind people. Of course, it was not the most exciting race, but still very useful for tomorrow.
“The biggest thing I learnt from the data was the balance and the tyre degradation, which is something that will most likely be the same if we’re set up in the same way. For us drivers, we know how to manage the brake balance and the lines, which are really little points. The tyres were really soft, so it was more about the graining. The first part is okay, but once you get rid of the first layer then there is the layer that grains a lot. We’re losing close to two to three seconds per lap at one point, but once you clean the graining, the time should come back a bit.
“The only reason why I got really close to Paul Aron sometimes was because I was trying to back off a bit and then trying to push again. Since I was quite a bit quicker, especially at the beginning, I was immediately catching him. In the end, I just got blocked for the last part and that’s why I couldn’t do the fastest lap. There wasn’t really a point where I wanted to send an overtake on him because first of all, it’s only for a point and it’s likely that you would crash, maybe if the guy’s not looking in his mirror. Then you can get a penalty for the day after, which is not ideal.
“For the Feature Race, I’m not planning to pull a gap. When you win, you just need to win by being a tiny bit in front. Of course, you want to try and push for the fastest lap maybe, but if it’s too risky or the balance of the car isn’t there, I don’t think I will push for that. First of all, I will try to do a normal start, even the same as Dino, hold my position into Turn 1 and build the race from there.”
“Before the weekend, I said what the dream weekend would be – getting pole in Monaco and winning the Feature Race in the dry. I think that’s pretty much what happened this weekend, it was great overall with a very good pole lap and then a good start. I tried to set the fastest lap without taking big risks and managed to do that for the extra point. From there, I just tried to manage the gap, not push too hard, not do stupid things and bring the win home.
“It was key to maximise the points I could get out of the race because in Monaco, where you are after the first corner is usually where you end up. You don’t want to do stupid mistakes where without that, you probably would’ve won. Also, getting the point for the fastest lap is always good and to get the maximum points when you can.
“It was pretty close to Dino behind. On the last lap he got really, really close after Turns 1 and 3, which are the corners I was struggling with tyres the most. In the end, I just tried to brake a bit later in Turn 6 and that was pretty much it. I think I still had three to four tenths in my pocket, but since the tyres were going, I didn’t want to do stupid things and keep it out of the wall.”
“I got a bit closer to Gabriel. If it wasn’t for some bad things happening in Bahrain, we would be really close or maybe even leading. In Barcelona I’ve just got to reset in three days and I’m going to try to start it all over again – do a good lap in Qualifying, manage the tyres in the race and get some good points. You can’t predict the pace of the others, but for sure you can try to maximise what you have.”