His radio message on the Friday at Monza told the Isack Hadjar 2022 story. His Qualifying crash was a bitter pill to swallow but despite everything, the Frenchman was one of the standout performers of the season, battling for the Drivers’ Championship from start to finish.

Although he ended up not achieving his title goal, the Hitech Grand Prix driver says he has no regrets stemming from his approach to the campaign and, in fact, he was surprised to be involved from the outset at all.

Arriving in Bahrain for pre-season testing all those months ago, Hadjar thought he might not have the pace to contend in Formula 3. That notion was swiftly proven untrue.

“The expectations were not high. When you look on paper, Hitech were sixth in the Teams’ Standings last year, they were taking two rookies for this year, it was scary. But once I jumped in the car in Bahrain, it just felt comfortable with the team really quickly. We had strong pace in the long runs and the short runs. It was really good to drive and from that point I was like ‘ok, we can do something great’.

“To be honest, it’s quite weird but I think winter testing is my highlight of the season. When I arrived, I didn’t know what to expect and was really nervous. I didn’t know if I had the level to perform or if I’d have the car but after the first day when we were out there, we were really quick from day one. I was quick, the car was quick, so I think that was a relief and probably the best moment.

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“I felt comfortable very early on. I went to do Asian F3 with Hitech and obviously it’s a different team but it’s within the same team. Their approach to working was the same and I felt really comfortable with it, I felt I was listened to, and my feedback was valued, the main data centre was me. I knew the guys when I got to Bahrain and started well.”

That working relationship started on the right foot at Sakhir where Hadjar secured the first of his three race victories across the season.

While it sparked many into tipping him as the next Red Bull junior driver to watch out for, the man himself saw his maiden F3 victory in a completely different light to others. It was only when he added some improved results in the middle phase of the campaign that Hadjar believes he truly arrived on the F3 scene.

“Everyone thinks I had a mega weekend in Bahrain but to be honest, it was really disappointing. We were going for a Feature Race podium, so a lot of points were lost with the puncture, and my confidence went down a lot to be honest. But the pace was amazing, and we kept that for quite a long time after.

“I think since Imola, where I had a really good weekend and the pace was amazing again, it felt good to catch the leader in the standings. We were really consistent in the middle phase of the year, scored in every race but then had a difficult ending to the year. Spa was good, Zandvoort was a tougher one, but we stayed in the Championship fight.”

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A major contributing factor in his pursuit of the title was the impressive levels of consistency he found mid-way through the 2022 season. Prior to the summer break, Hadjar was the most consistent points-scorer of all seven Championship contenders that headed into Monza with a chance of glory.

His run of points finishes meant he headed into the break between Budapest and Spa-Francorchamps as the leader in the Drivers’ standings, albeit ahead on countback versus Victor Martins.

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That strength was something that Hadjar says was a target from day one of arriving in Formula 3. Having seen how the Championship unfolded the year before with Dennis Hauger’s success and number of points finishes, approaching his driving with more maturity was key to putting himself in the title hunt.

“Consistency was something I targeted right away arriving in Formula 3. My first years in single seaters were difficult and when I didn’t have the pace, I wasn’t able to maximise. I was always frustrated by the lack of pace, but this year was different. The approach was different, even with fighting for the Championship and taking less risks. My approach really changed, and I learned quite a lot and am very happy with that.”

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While he was definitely a star performer throughout 2022, things didn’t come together for him in Italy when it mattered most.

Having been P2 in Practice, things looked promising for the Hitech man but a last-moment crash in Qualifying all but sealed his fate on the final weekend of the season.

Despite the disappointment of not sealing the Championship, Hadjar says he doesn’t look back on 2022 with regrets, only honest assessments of where things went wrong and new targets for next year.

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“I don’t believe in luck or bad luck. When we look at the job we got done, we did a lot of mistakes. The pace was really good which was important, I think Spa was a frustrating weekend. In Qualifying, I couldn’t get a lap in and do the last lap for example.

“To be honest, I don’t have any regrets. We’ve learned a lot, Zandvoort showed that. Our car wasn’t quick enough, but we maximised the result with P6 and P5. But I feel that we should have done much more.”