With one last chance to shine as his second Formula 3 season draws to a close, Franco Colapinto recognises that every second on track counts as a top three finish in the Championship remains within touching distance. Only six points separate second-place Paul Aron and the MP Motorsport driver in fifth heading into the season finale at Monza. With 39 points on the table, it’ll be a fight all the way to the Feature Race finish line.
After a jam-packed July included four rounds in five weeks, the Argentian says he took full advantage of the month away from the track. Using it as valuable time to decompress and assess, he’s now ready and more raring to go than ever.
“It was nice to have a rest after almost five weeks in a row of racing, so it was a nice way of relaxing a little bit before preparing for the last race. It was good to have a hard rest, think a bit about the season and disconnect from racing as it was getting a bit too much when it’s so many weeks in a row.
“I’m really excited now to get back to racing and for the last weekend in Monza. It’s such a good track where there’s always really great racing and I’m excited to race in front of all the Tifosi, as the fans from Italy are amazing.”
Heading into the 2023 campaign, Colapinto was hotly tipped to be one of the leading title contenders, but the year will ultimately prove to be a missed opportunity for the Williams Academy junior. The triumphant highs of the Silverstone Sprint Race victory alongside podiums in Sakhir, Barcelona and Budapest are complimented by the fact that he’s one of the most consistent top 10 finishers.
Reflecting on how the season has panned out, he believes that more could have been possible for him and the Dutch team, but that they tried to make the most of every situation, even if pace was lacking at some venues compared to other.
“Maybe we were expecting more at some weekends, but I think we extracted almost everything that we had in each race weekend. I made some mistakes at the end of the year and maybe that affect the Championship results a bit and where we are now in the points, but of course, everyone has had these little mistakes. We’ll try to minimise those, I’m just hoping to have a nice weekend, Monza is a track that I like a lot and always enjoy racing at. Looking forward tomorrow and then we’ll see how it goes this weekend.”
Eagerly anticipating getting back out on track at the famed Temple of Speed, the Autodromo Nazionale Monza has proved to be a happy hunting ground for Colapinto in the past. Last year, he converted reverse grid pole to Sprint Race victory, a less than straightforward feat at the Italian circuit.
On the face of it, Monza’s simple layout shouldn’t make the drivers’ task too difficult. However, it carries a double-edged sword, as Colapinto believes that its abundance of overtaking opportunities leaves him constantly under pressure to play the strategic game.
“Monza is one of my favourites. The racing here is always tricky, you always have to be at full attention. There is not a moment to relax because you are always in danger of losing out. Even if you are faster, you are never going to get rid of the people behind with DRS or a two. It’s a difficult track to race on and normally, the fastest don’t win – it’s more about who drives the smartest and makes the best moves at the best moments possible. On the other side, we always have a lot of fun with so many overtakes and, in the end, that’s what we like!”
“Opportunities are everywhere! Almost in every corner you can overtake, especially after a really long straight with the tow we have in these cars. Except in Lesmo as its more like a mid-speed corner where you don’t really brake too much. Qualifying is going to be very tricky with the tow, but I’m just trying to prepare everything with the team and trying to get all the details sorted for tomorrow as it’s going to be an important day.”
With no time to lose, Colapinto is determined to extract the maximum out of these final three days of running, giving it his all as he’s done all-season long and most important, leave it all out there on track.
“The goal is just to do the best possible results this weekend. I think we’ll take it step by step, first do Friday and then, we’ll see how the rest of the weekend looks. Of course, I’m looking to do a nice weekend here, score points and then see where we are on Sunday afternoon.”