After claiming pole in his debut Formula 3 Qualifying session and securing a maiden podium in Melbourne, Gabriele Minì’s confidence behind the wheel has shone through throughout the opening two rounds. However, that has come as no surprise to the Hitech Pulse-Eight driver who says he’s been gelling well with the car since his first taste back last September.
Off the back of two days of in-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona, the Alpine Academy junior was pleased to see his form continue with the fastest overall time but acknowledges that there’s still a lot to learn over the next two days of running in Imola.
“Overall, I think it was two pretty good days of testing. We did a pretty good race simulation on the first day and also, on the second day we were pretty strong. We managed to improve quite a lot in the Qualifying simulation for Day 2.
“I think in the first two weekend we’ve been very quick. In Bahrain, we got the pole and fought for the win and in Melbourne, we were also pretty strong. Very strong in Free Practice, a bit less in Qualifying, but we were still there in the top three and in the race.
He added: “So, I feel quite comfortable with the car, but I’ve felt this way since the first test in Jerez (last year). Of course, you learn a lot, but I’ve felt really comfortable since my first day. I think it suits me and my driving style, and I feel really good with the team.”
Maximising the four days of running before the European stint of the season gets underway in Imola next month, the Italian racer clocked in a hefty 174 laps in Barcelona and will be looking to reach a similar number at one of his home circuits.
In-season testing provides valuable track time, particularly for the rookies as they aim to overcome the evitable teething problems they face when adjusting to a new Championship and machinery.
For Minì, it’s the early morning Qualifying stints that could prove the most valuable heading into the upcoming triple header, with tyre degradation putting drivers under pressure and leaving them with only a few shots at getting it right.
“As a rookie, it’s always good to get more track time, especially at tracks like Barcelona where it’s really, really hard to get Quali laps in. On every set of tyres, you have only one lap on them and then it completely drops off. So, you have four or five laps where you need to do many, many things.
“Then for the race sims, it’s really tricky because you have to manage a lot with the tyres. It’s also very long and very hard physically. So, it’s always good to get those days in, both for the driver and for the team to get more information.”
Now, the 18-year-old is hopping back in the cockpit of the #15 car for the second and final in-season test and Minì is looking to put his experiences into practice. Targeting improvements in his one-lap runs and clean long-run pace, he’s hungry to take advantage of the window of opportunity to get more mileage on the board.
“The area where I need to focus is probably Qualifying because you only have one lap and it’s key to set the lap time. Also, the race simulations. It’s really important to manage to be quick and consistent, without at the same time destroying the tyres.