Taking an impressive two back-to-back Feature Race victories in Sakhir and Melbourne, Gabriel Bortoleto has quickly begun to find his feet in Formula 3, but the Brazilian isn’t getting ahead of himself at such an early stage of the 2023 campaign.
He once again proved to be the driver to beat during the opening day of in-season testing in Barcelona, clocking in a 1:27.221 during the morning’s running to go 0.203s clear of Grégoire Saucy.
Now, he’s looking to make the most of every lap behind the wheel of the #5 Trident, focusing on continuing his progression heading into the demanding triple header that commences in Imola next month.
“The day went very well. We did many tests with the car and that was the target of today’s test, to try different stuff from what we are used to having,” said Bortoleto. “Things are going well, we managed to top the two sessions of the day so I’m happy. This layout of the track as well is very nice, and I had some fun today.”
Posting a total of 60 laps across the six hours of running, the mileage is valuable preparation for Round 5’s return to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Although he’s got prior experience and victories at the track, testing gives drivers and teams valuable reference points to help them adapt under pressure in race weekend conditions, when the time to experiment with setups is scarce.
Riding high after the first two rounds of his rookie season, Bortoleto leads the Drivers’ Championship by a solid 20-point margin to Saucy. Whilst the results have boosted his self-assurance, the Trident driver remains level-headed and says that the car is well-suited for his driving style.
“For sure, you get more confidence after winning the only races that you’ve done, but at the same time, it’s still the same feeling I had before Bahrain. I like to drive this year, it’s a car that suits me very well, especially the Trident car. I don't have any expectations for the next round. I’m just happy to be driving and to be fast every time that I’m going out on track, but I don’t know how it will go in Imola.”
He added: “It’s always very good to test at track you haven’t raced at before in this car, but at the same time in Melbourne it went well for me to just go in there with 45 minutes of Practice. It’s good to try some stuff and not go into the weekend fully blind or not knowing what to do on the track.”
With one day of testing in Barcelona remaining before heading to Imola for a further two days of running, Bortoleto says that Trident’s attention will be shifting from one-lap pace and Qualifying runs to race stints, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement tomorrow.
“Tomorrow we’re going to do some long runs and try something to recreate the best race pace that we had from today, as we did quite a lot of performance runs. In Imola it will be about getting more confident with the car because it’s not an easy track. It’s a track where it’s very difficult to put a lap together.
“Barcelona is a lot easier. I wouldn’t say it’s easy because I made some mistakes today as well – it happens, but Imola is very demanding. I would say you need to be very precise with everything that you do. So, I think in Barcelona it’ll be about that and then in Imola, I’ll work on myself.”