He may have the most race victories to his name this season but Isack Hadjar heads into the final round of the 2022 Formula 3 season the hunter rather than the hunted, sitting second in the Drivers’ Championship. Currently the closest challenger to Victor Martins, Hadjar’s season has had its high and low moments.
Opening the campaign with a victory was an early bright spot, and a further two podiums in the following two rounds in Feature Races underlined his Championship contending credentials, although it wasn’t until the Silverstone Sprint Race that he stood on the top step of the podium once more.
Getting a handle on the demands of the Formula 3 car was a learning experience for the Hitech Grand Prix driver, who says that his expectations heading into the season definitely had an impact on the early races.
“I honestly didn’t know what to expect at the start of the year, coming to a new team being a rookie. But clearly, I managed to adapt to a new environment quite quickly and we could deliver some great races straight away, especially with the Bahrain Sprint Race win.
“Coming from FRECA, I was always rushing a lot in my first few races in F3 as I was used to shorter races and less tyre degradation. The Imola and Barcelona Sprint Races were really disappointing races from my side, and I think from that point, I really managed to turn things around and deliver better and cleaner races, like in Silverstone.”
Another win followed at the next round at the Red Bull Ring, where Hadjar mastered the toughest of conditions to seal a third victory of the season, currently the most of any driver on the grid. That weekend was Hadjar’s most successful, taking the hat-trick of pole, fastest lap and the race victory.
It stands out to him as his best weekend in an F3 car and it’s no wonder why. The victory put him back in the title picture in some fashion, closing to within a single point of Martins, having been a distant third a couple of rounds prior.
“We have been able to be quick in all conditions throughout the season and I think the Red Bull Ring weekend shows it quite well. Taking pole in the dry and winning the Feature Race in really wet conditions was definitely our best weekend of the season.”
Arguably though, the favourites for the ’22 crown have not had the same success in the latter half of the season. Hadjar’s wet weather masterclass marked his latest victory while Championship leader Martins is winless since the Barcelona Feature Race.
Consistency then has been the making of Hadjar’s campaign, and the French driver has been one of the best at scoring points even on his ‘off days’.
READ MORE: Bearman on F3 title showdown: 'Keep a cool head and no silly risks' Hadjar has failed to score points on just three occasions this year, the best record for any driver in title contention. Budapest marked another race weekend in which the Hitech driver struggled to stamp his authority on the weekend, yet he still scored a greater number of points than Martins, Roman Stanek and Arthur Leclerc across the weekend.
“I think where I learnt the most was how to prepare a race weekend with the team to be 100% ready from lap one. My FP in Budapest where I was on it from lap one made me realise how important my hard work before the weekend was crucial to be efficient directly.
“I also learnt a lot with tyre management and how to use the brake bias through a race or just a single lap in Quali, it really is a powerful tool to adjust through the race to help the tyres to make it to the end. I also improved well my feedback, as I start to be able to synthesise well my feelings in the car not to have the engineers lost to get the important information.”
That teamwork will count for more than ever before as the Championship heads to the finale at Monza this weekend. It’s a venue where he has recent success at, scoring two podiums in the final round of the Formula Regional European Championship in 2021, including a win in the final race of the season. A repeat would put him in a great position to secure the F3 Title at his first attempt.
“It’s going better than I thought as I am fighting for the championship, but it is still a long way to go before it’s over. The only goal is to win, that’s it. I feel like I have everything to perform for these last two races.”