Roman Stanek is prepared to lay everything on the line in his quest to be crowned the 2022 FIA Formula 3 Champion this weekend. With seven drivers still in with a chance of glory, the fight is set to go down to the wire and the Czech driver recognises that only his best will be good enough in the final round of the season.
Bringing home his third top four finish in four races, Stanek’s Feature Race wasn’t as simple at it seemed. The Trident driver recovered from an error on the opening lap and managed two Safety Car restarts alongside a defensive effort from Isack Hadjar behind.
“The start was good, I just made a mistake in the second corner, so Franco Colapinto overtook me. There were not many overtaking opportunities in the race overall, so I wasn’t able to attack. We scored some good points for the Championship, and we’ll keep improving for the last round.
“It’s quite hard to manage the restart itself because you never know when the leader is going to go, your reaction is very important and staying out of trouble. Also, you really need to warm up the tyres and keep the temperature in them, otherwise your first lap is very bad, and you usually understeer like crazy. So, you really need to work the tyres even when going slow.”
Despite the lack of overtaking in Zandvoort, Stanek admitted that he could have made more of an effort to reclaim third from the Van Amersfoort Racing driver but opted to prioritise the points, deemed any attempt a risk not worth taking at this late stage of the season.
“I had some issues, so I was not really able to attack. I think I made the most out of it, maybe I could have tried to make some moves but from my position it was quite hard, and I needed to take some points. Probably if I would have fought with Colapinto and he’s not a Championship contender, we would have both crashed and then I’d have zero points.
“It’s better to take 12 points than nothing for sure. Then I was covering Hadjar when he was trying to overtake me, but I kept my position – I think I did quite good there.
Following his return from the summer break, the Trident racer has sparked his campaign back to life after dropping out of the top five in Budapest for the first-time since the season opener in Sakhir. He’s the only title contender to have scored points in each of the four races, claiming back-to-back second places in Spa-Francorchamps and a 10th and a fourth in Zandvoort.
That run of form has allowed him to capitalise on his rivals’ off weekends, moving above PREMA Racing’s Oliver Bearman to third and closing to within 17 points of Championship leader Victor Martins with 39 points still left on the table.
That consistency has also translated into the Teams’ Championship, as he and teammates Zane Maloney and Jonny Edgar have claimed 10 points finishes out of a possible 12. By comparison, leaders PREMA have only taken five.
“Consistency has been very, very important to catch up with the leaders. The last two rounds were very good for us overall as a team. We also scored good points in the Championship title fight. We just have to keep the momentum going and to focus on this last round, which will be very important. But again, I take it as another race weekend, I’ll try to stay out of trouble because sometimes when you are under pressure you don’t feel very confident.”
A 46-point deficit is a large gap for the reigning Champions to close, but the Italian team has scored well beyond that before, adding 71 and 50 points to its tally across the past two rounds. With the weight of two titles resting on his shoulders, Stanek is refusing to bow down to the pressure and is instead focusing on giving it his all from the moment he hits the track at Monza.
“My approach for every race is the same – trying to extract the best out of myself and especially out of the car. It’s another race weekend and we will have to do the best that we can because there’s no other option, so we push, and we see where we are. I’m sure if we push enough and I do the maximum I can, we will be incredibly fast.”