With just over a week to go before he climbs back into the Formula 3 car at pre-season testing in Sakhir, Leonardo Fornaroli can’t wait to get started as he prepares to make his debut.
Part of a trio of rookies at Trident alongside Gabriel Bortoleto and Oliver Goethe, the Italian racer is confident that the team which finished runner-up in both the Teams’ and Drivers’ Championship last year with Zane Maloney, has what it takes to put together another successful campaign.
“I’m really excited because I just had a blast driving the car in Jerez for testing and absolutely fell in love with the car because it has so much downforce and so braking power. I think it’s one of the best cars I’ve ever driven in my life, so I’m extremely excited for this upcoming season.
“Trident are an extremely good team and when you’re there, you feel like you’re at home, but at the same time, they are a really serious team, and they work together really well. I worked with my new engineer in testing and they are one of the best engineers I’ve had, so I think we can have a really good season together.”
It’s no surprise that Fornaroli is feeling right at home with the Italian squad. Fresh from the 18-year-old achieving the top rookie honours in the Formula Regional European Championship, the two parties continue their partnership for another season in 2023.
Whilst podium finishes eluded him on his way to eighth in the Standings, his consistency proved to be the backbone of his performances – something which he credits to his increased understanding of how to get the best out of the Pirelli rubber.
“One of the biggest things I learnt last year was tyre management in the races because in Formula 4 it was not so high, but it was in FRECA because of the heavier cars. I really learnt a lot during last season, and I think it’s going to be really useful for this season.”
He added: “I was really happy about my performance last year and of course the team’s because as a rookie, both Trident and I did really good things. They gave me really good cars and I managed to win the rookie title, which was a big emotion for me.”
As he prepares to get back in the cockpit of the Trident car at pre-season testing, Fornaroli admits it was tricky to get a handle on the F3 machinery early on during last year’s post-season testing in Jerez, but soon found his feet, completing 183 laps across the three days.
“As soon as I started, I was a little bit confused because the car is really different to the FRECA car, not for being heavy because they’re fairly similar, but the F3 car has a lot more downforce, power and braking force. The first day was about adapting to the new car, then on the second and last day I felt really confident with the car. I think we had really good pace, especially on the second day and I can’t wait to start.”
It’s not only the prospect of racing in even faster machinery that’s got Fornaroli champing at the bit to get started, but the variety of challenging circuits on the calendar. While his recent experience around the streets of Monaco should give him an advantage over some of the returning drivers, it’s the trip to Australia that he sees as a boyhood dream come to life.
“The first time I saw the jumping for joy in my home because I saw Melbourne and Monte Carlo, especially Melbourne because I’ve already driven around Monaco last year. A few years ago, I was racing on the Melbourne circuit on my PlayStation, so to race with the F3 car at that track will be amazing – one of the best things in my life.”
Cautious in his expectations, Fornaroli isn’t underestimating the task ahead of him. Nevertheless, his hunger to race and desire to win means he’s eager to stand out amongst the pool of 16 rookies already announced.
“For me, I think the Championship will be really tough because there are really good drivers competing. Also, there’s all the drivers that have much more experience than me, but I think with Trident we can have a really good year, so I’m quite confident.
“As I rookie, I don’t have so many expectations because the Championship is much tighter than FRECA. Of course, as a racing driver, I always want to win and to be one of the best rookies like last year.”