Paul Aron was hoping to seal second place in the Drivers’ Championship at Monza, but it wasn’t to be for the Estonian. The PREMA Racing driver was out of the running early in the Sprint Race on Saturday and Sunday’s Feature Race didn’t go according to plan either.

Fighting for the top spots early on after starting second, a wheel-to-wheel battle with Leonardo Fornaroli through the first chicane left the Mercedes Junior Team driver skirting the gravel, dropping him down the order in the top 10.

He was able to fight back through to sixth and help his team retain the Teams’ Championship for the fourth time in five years. It is the main source of satisfaction for Aron who says that the weekend promised a lot more, having been aiming to end the ’23 season on a higher personal note.

“For the moment I’m not happy with third. I think the season we’ve done is great. We struggled at the beginning, and we’ve done a very good job throughout the year to improve our pace and the results have been getting better and better.

“I’ve been very happy with the job we’ve done with the team to get the car and driver synchronised better let’s say. In Spa we had a very good chance to make a gap with the other guys in the Championship and actually fight for the title, but we made a bad strategy call which cost us the race.

“Coming into Monza I was still second in the Standings and the goal was to keep that with the overall Championship still quite far off. We had a good Qualifying, sitting in third position and then I got taken out in the Sprint Race on Lap 1 and in the Feature, pushed off which cost me the points I needed to finish second. It is a big disappointment.”

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Aron’s path to second in the Championship literally opened up for him after pole sitter Oliver Goethe was forced to pull off the grid with an issue on his Trident. From third on the grid, the Estonian was fighting for the lead entering Turn 1 but was shuffled down to fourth on the opening lap.

From there, a back-and-forth race full of action through the field included a scrap with Fornaroli and subsequent tumble down the order. He fought back to sixth in the end but says that his approach to the race left him vulnerable to those with nothing to lose.

“It was a tricky race. We started from third, then Oliver had an issue from pole position which is obviously a shame for him, but it opened up new opportunities for us. I had a good start and I followed Caio into Turn 1 but then I didn’t get a good exit out of the first chicane which cost me two positions after.

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“We knew we had a fast car in the race, the goal was just to stay clean and manage the tyres, then move forward in the end. With all the Safety Car restarts the racing was messy and I got pushed off which put me on the back foot. I managed to recover to seventh which in the end put me third in the Championship but obviously I’m a bit disappointed. The goal was to fight for second and we were certainly in the position to do it without getting pushed off.

“Usually, it’s fine. The thing was that I tried to stay as clean as possible but sometimes if you try to stay clean, other drivers take advantage of it and that’s exactly what happened. I tried to stay out of trouble and because of that, other drivers saw opportunities and went over the limit which cost me in the race. It’s tricky because it’s not only you in the race, you have other people and you don’t know what they’re thinking. You need to manage everyone around you so it’s partly luck, partly decisions and that’s part of Monza I guess.”

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Reflecting on his rookie campaign overall, Aron says that the efforts he and the team made in order to turn their season around was a hugely impressive feat to be a part of.

All three PREMA drivers struggled to hit the ground running in 2023, but Aron says that as the season progressed, the team were able to build up more and more pace through the year. The PREMA driver says he is proud of their work and that sealing the Championship was a deserved reward.

“I think we deserved to be second. It was only our first year, we didn’t have the pace in the beginning, and we stayed consistent and stayed in the game. If we had a bit more luck, I think we would’ve been fighting for the title.”

“I think we are the team that should be the proudest of our work. We didn’t hit the ground running at the start of the season and all three of us struggled. We managed to turn that around which isn’t easy to do. If you look at Trident’s season they dominated at the start and slowly started to drop off.

“I think that shows that the work we did this year was good and even if we weren’t spot on at the beginning of the year, we managed to work, stayed focused and made steps throughout the season, that is what’s important. We managed to win the Teams’ Championship so I’m super proud of PREMA and the job we did.”