Adapting to the Formula 3 cars across the three days of post-season testing in Jerez, Gabriele Mini says that going back to basics and his roots in karting have been key to getting to grips with the new approach needed.
Getting behind the wheel of the #18 Hitech Grand Prix car, the Italian was immediately on the ball and topped the opening day’s running. While there were a few teething problems and off-track excursions along the way, Mini believes that he’s shown that he’s got the pace from the outset.
“It was pretty amazing, especially for the first time,” he said. "It's a big step to what I'm used to. Of course, it's not so easy at first 'cause you need to get used to much more downforce you have on the softer tyre. But in the end, already from the first morning, I think we were pretty competitive.
“Overall, across the three days, I think we’ve been consistently in the top five, fighting for the top three or five fastest times, so I’m pretty happy with this.”
The 17-year-old has had a promising run up the ranks. Two years ago, he took the Italian F4 title in commanding fashion. His first year in single seaters brought four wins, 12 podiums and nine pole positions along the way. Additionally, he took a home victory in his first race in ADAC F4 that same season.
Stepping up to the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine, he ended his 2021 campaign in seventh. Continuing with ART Grand Prix for this year, he’s put himself right back at the front of the pack, achieving two wins and eight podiums to sit second in the standings ahead of the final two rounds in October.
Completing a mix of Qualifying and race simulations, whilst notching up over 180 laps, Mini admitted that it took him awhile to get used to the driving style needed, but his training in karting helped him manage the more physical aspects of adapting to the F3 car.
“The biggest thing I had to learn about the car was mainly the difference in downforce because it’s a different way of driving the car compared to what I’m used to. For me physically, it felt much easier to drive because I still do a lot of karting, so I keep training my neck a lot and that’s the only physical part of F3. For me, the steering wheel is 10 times easier in FRECA.
“Clearly Qualifying is one of the most important things on a race weekend, so you need to be immediately on the first push there which is not so easy. The main difference for me is the race simulations because it’s a completely different setup and a different way of driving, so that’s what I had to get used to.
“On the first day, I did the race sim and I made a few mistakes. Then I tried again, and it was better, then again on Day 3 it was much better, so I kept improving on that time after time.”