Thriving in his new environment at MP Motorsport, Franco Colapinto is waiting with bated breath for the 2023 Formula 3 to get underway. With one year’s experience in the F3 under his belt, the Argentinian racer believes he and the team have now got all the ingredients needed to mount a title challenge of their own.
The signs are encouraging after pre-season testing last month. During the fastest session of the three days of running, Colapinto was in touch with the leading duo of Grégoire Saucy and Dino Beganovic – clocking in a lap just a tenth off the PREMA Racing driver’s time.
Additionally, the team enter the year off the back of another successful season, where they finished fourth in the Standings. Colapinto says that those days of running have given the Dutch squad a strong sense of confidence of what they’ll be capable of putting together.
“I’m feeling ready for Bahrain, I think the three days testing a few weeks ago was also really good and they were really important for what's coming this week. Everyone in the team is happy, positive, optimistic and ready to go.
“I’m super excited. I'm really looking forward to racing with MP since we started testing in Jerez last year, so a lot of work has been done in preparation. I’m just really excited to start the real important things and getting some points at the board early in the season.”
Having seen Victor Martins bring home the Drivers’ title in his second time around, the Williams Academy driver has been drawing lessons from the Frenchman’s experience. He highlighted how regular points scoring was what ultimately gave the ART Grand Prix driver the edge when the margins drew close towards the conclusion of the year.
Whilst naturally, every driver targets victories and podiums, Colapinto says that extracting every possible point and bringing home regular top 10 finishes will be his target across the 10 rounds.
“I think they have a lot of experience. I worked with MP in the past and just enjoy a lot working with them. It's always really enjoyable and I'm just happy to work with MP again. I think it's going to be a good year for us. We need to move in the right direction, be consistent and scoring points in each race, that is the most important thing. Victor (Martins) won the title last year being really consistent. He maybe wasn’t always the fastest but he was just scoring points in every weekend.
He added: “I want to do the best I can with the team, just maximise the potential of the car, and as I said before, keep scoring points every weekend. It's gonna be the key to just focus on myself and see how we end up.”
The Bahrain International Circuit has proven itself to be a somewhat happy hunting ground for Colapinto. On his debut last year, he blew the field out of the water to storm to his maiden pole position. However, he could only convert this to fifth in the Feature Race after a time penalty for exceeding track limits.
Overcoming those challenges early on his F3 career has given him the insight of what it takes to managing the weekend’s running in Sakhir. Anticipating track evolution between Free Practice and Qualifying, which could catch some of his less-experienced rivals out, and the difficulties in managing the Pirelli rubber as temperatures and degradation rise has the potential to swing the opening round firmly in his favour.
Recognising that adjusting to the circumstances swiftly is what enabled him to secure pole at the circuit this time 12 months ago, Colapinto is ready to master the game once more and get his ’23 campaign off to the perfect start.
“The track really changes from FP to Qualifying. I think I was probably the one that adapted the best to that situation, and I think that adaptation is going to be key again. We can see a lot of sand on the track and it’s going to be dirty for sure the first time we go out. I’m sure it’s going to change a lot before we go out for Qualifying but we need to wait and see how it evolves before then. Whoever has the best package, the drivers still need to make sure their lap is good.”
“I think Bahrain has the biggest amount of deg of the year, managing the tyres for the races is important and I think we're doing that quite well. I was quite happy last week with how it went on the long runs and the balance we had, the level of deg we had. I'm looking forward to races I think we have a good car for low degradation, I think we did a good job on that.”