MP Motorsport may have achieved their highest finish to date in the Teams’ Championship after Alpine Academy duo Victor Martins and Caio Collet led them to fourth in 2021, but Team Principal Sander Dorsman insists they’re keeping their “feet on the ground” ahead of the new season.

After consecutive sixth-place finishes in 2019 and 2020, MP scored more points in 2021 than the previous two years combined. Martins and Collet ended the year as the highest placed rookies in fifth and ninth, tallying up eight podiums, including one win, between them.

Hailing the duo as “super quick, super competitive and super close,” Dorsman believes that their constant desire to push each other was a major factor in the team’s improved performances.

“It was such a joy to work with them,” he said. “They were so close with each other, working really nicely together. It makes life a lot easier if the team atmosphere is positive like that. They improved each other and had the right mentality.

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Martins won Race 2 in Zandvoort with MP Motorsport
Martins won Race 2 in Zandvoort with MP Motorsport

“It is always nice if you have a couple of drivers who can push each other and who are equal in performance, I think that helped us to take a step forward and get to where we were. Hopefully, we can keep the momentum in 2022. That is our objective for next season.”

While the Alpine Academy duo joined on the back of finishing first and second in Formula Renault Eurocup, with more than seven years of single-seater experience under their belts between them, 17-year-old Tijmen Van der Helm made the step-up to F3 after just two years of car racing.

Entering the season with slightly different targets, Martins and Collet’s success took the pressure off their young Dutch teammate and allowed him more time to find his feet and progress.

“Having three rookies, you are always keen to understand where you stand at the beginning of the season, but we had a really good season,” continued Dorsman. “The guys developed really well. It was a real joy to work with the three of them.

“The results were good, and the season was really enjoyable. We had some ups, we had some downs, typical rookie moments, but in general, we did a great job.”

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Collet R was back with the team in Valencia for post-season testing
Collet (R) was back with the team in Valencia for post-season testing

Although they’re yet to announce their line-up for 2022, MP began their preparations for the new campaign at post-season testing in Valencia, where Collet and Van der Helm were joined by Formula Regional European race-winner Franco Colapinto.

Discussing the work done across the three-day stint in Spain, Dorsman was confident that the team hadn’t hit a glass ceiling, although he said that he wouldn’t be setting any immediate targets.

“I think we know which direction we’re heading in and that is good,” said Dorsman. “The situation looks quite stable, so I am hopeful that we can build on where we ended. We are looking for further improvements, that is always the objective. We want to improve the team and ourselves.

“We had a nice season last year, but we want to do even better next season, that is the objective. I don’t want to put any labels on anything, we're keeping our feet on the ground, but we are working hard to keep improving and we will see where we end up.”