Returning to Formula 3 for a second crack at the whip, Jonny Edgar had high expectations to be in the frontrunning pack with then-reigning Teams’ Champions Trident. Unfortunately, health issues derailed his initial plans, but the Briton demonstrated his resilience and drive to fight back against unfavourable odds to end the season on a high.
“The season didn’t go as expected,” he summarised. “Going into the year, I was hoping to be in the top three in the Championship or around there. I was ill at the start of the year, so Bahrain was really difficult and then I missed the two following rounds.
“When I came back, obviously I wasn’t at full fitness, so it was all about improving every weekend and getting better, especially in the last three rounds which were the best three I had. It was good to keep improving, but even then, it was still fairly difficult by the end with what I missed and my fitness not being 100%.”
Diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease at the beginning of his 2022 campaign, Edgar made the brave and difficult decision to pull out of racing following the opening round in Sakhir in order to prioritise his health. Missing the second and third rounds in Imola and Barcelona, he admitted he thought his season was over before it had really begun.
Undeterred by the challenge, the Trident man refused to be defeated, stepping up his recovery efforts away from the track. While he dealt with frustration this setback brought both mentally and physically, the Red Bull junior’s comeback wouldn’t be too far off as his continuous improvement saw him make an impressive return to racing in time for his home weekend at Silverstone.
“At the very start of the year I began to feel ill and then by Bahrain, I was just getting worse and worse and struggling a lot. So, together with the team, we decided it was worth taking a break, which was a shame because I think if I could have done the full season, I could have at least been in contention for the Championship like Zane (Maloney) and Roman (Stanek) managed to be.
“After Bahrain, I didn’t really expect to be back at all and I thought in the best-case scenario, maybe I would be back for the last three rounds if I was lucky. The doctors said it would take six to nine months to be back close to normal, so it improved a lot quicker than I thought. It was very early to come back, so especially the first few weekends were difficult physically because I was quite far away from being 100%.”
He added: “It was quite difficult at times to deal with, particularly when I was maybe not doing as well as I would have liked. A lot of times I knew what I had to do, but it was difficult to do it because of where I was physically. It was nice to improve every week and at least have that progress.”
After some issues in the Sprint Race, Edgar hit the ground running in the Feature Race claiming his first points of the year with P8 – a result the 18-year-old was pleased to have achieved given the obstacles he still had to overcome.
“We improved the car quite a bit for the Feature Race and as you spend more time with the team, you learn more about what you’d like from the car. The last half of that race I struggled physically, so I dropped a few positions because otherwise it could have been even better, but I was really happy to score points in my first weekend back again.”
Yet his greatest step forward would come after the summer break. From the seventh round in Spa-Francorchamps to the season finale in Monza, Edgar claimed four top five finishes and a run of six consecutive points scoring finishes.
His consistency was unmatched. No other driver managed to finish inside the top 10 across in each of final six races - a testament to his progression and work with Trident to give himself the best chances possible. He also came close to a maiden podium on two occasions, in particular missing out on one after his P2 finish on track in the Spa Sprint Race was demoted to P4, having received a time penalty for an opening lap incident.
Nevertheless, Edgar is objective in his assessment of his form during the latter stages, recognising that it was a huge turn of form considering that he’d all but written off his season after Round 1.
“I think one thing that helped was that the Trident car in Spa was very good, where it has been for years – it's always one of their best tracks. Going into the weekend, we knew we were going to be pretty quick. In Qualifying we had some bad luck with traffic, but I still was inside the top 12, which is always the main thing in Qualifying. If it doesn’t go well, you just want to be at least in the reverse grid positions for the Sprint.
“It was a shame to lose a podium, but considering I started seventh, fourth and the fastest lap I’d have taken that beforehand,” he noted. “It was the first race where I’d really been back fully at the front and being one of the quickest cars on track, so it was nice - the first time where I’d had that again. In the second race, I ended P5, gained one place which was decent. In Zandvoort, I was fourth again so close to the podium, but not quite there.
“I was third for a bit of the Monza Sprint Race, so it was a shame to miss out on the podium again, but it was nice to be close and fighting in the top five again across the last couple of weekends.”
Ending the season 12th in the Drivers’ Championship, heading into the winter break provides the drivers with a chance to rest. Edgar is intent on using his time wisely, as the time away from racing gives him an ideal opportunity to focus on his path to reaching a full recovery in 2023.
“The main thing over the winter will be having time to do some consistent training because during the season it’s so busy, and getting back to 100% fitness. Then I’ll see how it goes.”