Every young driver dreams of racing in Formula 1 and for MP Motorsport’s Mari Boya, he’s taken one step closer to that wish becoming a reality, as the Spaniard prepares for his debut Formula 3 season.
One of 11 rookie drivers already announced for the 2023 campaign, the spotlight will be on the 18-year-old to keep up with his more experienced teammates – new Williams junior Franco Colapinto and Jonny Edgar, but Boya is determined to make the most of the position he’s found himself in.
“For me, it’s like a dream,” he said. “I think it’s the biggest step I have made in my career so far because we race together with F1 and I think it’s a really beautiful thing for me, as that’s my dream for the future. I’m super excited to start the season and see how it goes.”
Boya steps up after a challenging second campaign in the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine. After finishing 14th in his first season in 2021, he had high hopes for a title charge in 2022. Unfortunately, a string of point-less finishes in the latter stages derailed his plans and he had to settle for 10th in the Standings.
Despite the disappointment, the 18-year-old believes it was a beneficial experience, helping to shape him into a more resilient and well-rounded driver.
“To be honest, last season wasn’t what we were expecting after winter testing, also for the team because we were hoping to be fighting for the Championship, but it wasn’t like that. It has been a hard season for me, but I think when you have a bad season, you always try to be fighting for the maximum you can.”
He added: “This is a good experience for the driver because when you have the material to be at the top, then it seems like everything is much easier. So, I think last year hadn’t been the best year, but we still work hard and learnt many things.
Fortunately, his transition to F3 has been made smoother by the familiar surroundings at MP, having previously competed with the team in FRECA and Spanish F4 in 2020, where he finished runner-up.
Post-season testing in Jerez last September was the Spanish racer’s first taste of his new machinery. While adjusting to the car was tough, particularly getting to grips with the carbon brakes, Boya was pleased to see how much he’d progressed in a relatively short space of time.
“I know the people inside the team much better and I have a really good relationship with them, especially all the mechanics. My mechanic for this year is the mechanic I had at some tests when I started testing in F4, so this is really great.
“It was my first experience with this car and it felt amazing. Also, the team didn’t expect that I would adapt that quickly to the car because although I knew the track from Spanish F4, the rest was completely new to me. You arrive faster to the corner; you brake later, and you pass through the corner with more speed. To change your style of how you normally drive is a bit difficult, but I think we did it quite quickly and I enjoyed those three days a lot.
“The biggest thing I learnt was how hard you can press the brake pedal because of the aerodynamics and how the brakes are – I think it’s amazing. As soon as you do more laps, you learn a lot about how to carry speed in the high-speed corners, which was another new area for me.”
Ahead of his F3 debut, Boya has continued to keep his racing skills sharp by competing the Formula Regional Middle East Championship, scoring a victory in the opening weekend. With MP entering 2023 off the back of another strong season, Boya reckons the Dutch squad have the potential to be competitive once again and he’s hungry to take full advantage of it.
“We’ve only done one test, so it’s hard to predict how we will go. To be honest, I’m really confident with how the team will be this year, especially on the engineering side. They are a really good team, which is giving me confidence. I’m just waiting to see how it goes at the next test in Bahrain.
“Normally, I have always been driving at the front and now in the final part of last season I hadn’t been driving there. Now I have the opportunity to be there, to quickly adapt and to take all the opportunities I have.”