Victor Martins claimed the 2022 Formula 3 Drivers’ Championship at Monza after finishing fourth in the Feature Race. Zane Maloney took victory after a tense battle with Oliver Bearman and Martins, the trio fighting for the win right up to a late Red Flag and post-race penalties. Jak Crawford moved up to third to make it two PREMA Racing cars on the podium.
Maloney’s third-consecutive Feature Race win moved him up to second in the Championship while Bearman’s eighth podium of the campaign left him third in the final standings.
AS IT HAPPENED
Maloney had a good launch off the line and got alongside Alexander Smolyar into Turn 1 to take the lead on the inside. Victor Martins managed to clear Roman Stanek into the first corner after making use of the tow from those ahead. Arthur Leclerc ran out of room and had to run across the chicane at Turn 2 and it left him vulnerable to teammate Bearman. Into Turn 4 and the Briton got the job done for fifth around the outside.
A Safety Car was deployed on the opening lap after contact between Rafael Villagómez and David Vidales at the second Lesmo, with both ending up in the gravel and out of the race. After a brief spell with the race neutralised, the green flags were back out entering Lap 4 and race leader Maloney went halfway down the back straight into Parabolica.
It allowed Smolyar to stick right with him heading down the main straight and the MP Motorsport driver attempted a pass. He locked-up into Turn 1 and missed the corner, taking the lead in the process. Behind, Martins managed to jump Maloney coming out of the first chicane and the ART Grand Prix driver made the most of the opportunity, passing Smolyar for the lead into the Della Roggia chicane.
The PREMA Racing drivers weren’t taking things easy against one another. Leclerc managed to re-pass Bearman on the first lap back to racing using the exact move the Briton pulled on him at the start. On Lap 6, Bearman tried to slipstream his way back through. The pair missed the first corner, and the Monégasque held his teammate off to keep fifth.
With Martins in clear air, he began to build a gap to the rest as Maloney couldn’t get through on Smolyar. Out of the final corner and onto Lap 8, Maloney got the tow just right and made the move down the inside into Turn 1. He wasn’t done yet either. Coming into the second chicane, he immediately shaped up Martins and went to the outside for an attempted pass. Both missed the corner, continuing in the same order. The Bajan driver was back through before the end of the lap to retake the lead.
Leclerc looked to have lined up a great move on Stanek and Smolyar but contact in the braking zone forced the Monégasque to the escape road, bringing the Trident driver along with him. Both dropped down to seventh and eighth respectively. Bearman saw his chance and cleared Smolyar for third to set his sights on Maloney and Martins ahead.
Isack Hadjar wasn’t having a good Feature Race and found himself well out of contention. He was relegated to 14th by Reece Ushijima on Lap 11 into Turn 1.
Having fought his way back into the top three, Bearman looked to be quicker than those ahead and on Lap 12, was able to use the DRS tow into the first corner to take second from the Championship leader.
Onto Lap 14 and Bearman was right in the slipstream of Maloney but not quite close enough to get through for the lead. One lap later and he was just 0.3s behind across the line, close enough to try the outside move on Maloney into the first corner. A lock-up for the Trident meant the two made contact into Turn 1 with Bearman running over the chicane. He was forced to hand the lead back which allowed Martins back into the lead battle in the process.
The Safety Car was back out on Lap 16 after Kush Maini and Brad Benavides crashed out of the second Lesmo. The debris and barrier repairs required meant the Red Flag was thrown with five laps of the 2022 season to go.
As things stood at the Red Flag, Martins held the lead of the Championship with 142 points in the live standings with Maloney second on 134 and Bearman third on 132. As the drivers sat in the pit lane, it was confirmed that the race would not restart while Martins was simultaneously handed a five-second time penalty for exceeding track limits.
The classification was taken from countback which meant with Martins’ time penalty applied, and a further penalty for track limits violation for William Alatalo taken into account, the Frenchman finished P4. The 12 points for fourth ensured he had 139 points total, enough to seal the Drivers’ Championship.
Zane Maloney’s win moved him up to second in the Standings on 134 points while Bearman’s P2 finish left him third in the Championship on 132. Crawford was promoted up to third to cap off PREMA’s Teams’ title-winning effort.
KEY QUOTE – Zane Maloney, Trident
“We got the Feature Race win today, well done to Victor on the Championship, he was very consistent, and he deserves the Championship. It was a great race and thank you to the team for the whole year. We see what we’ll do next year, and I’ll try my best!”
THE CHAMPIONSHIP VIEW
With the Feature Race results, Victor Martins takes the 2022 Formula 3 Drivers’ Championship on 139 points. Zane Maloney and Oliver Bearman rounded out the top 3 in the standings on 134 and 132 points respectively.
PREMA Racing secured the Teams’ Championship ahead of Trident. ART Grand Prix kept its place in the top three.
That’s it for the 2022 Formula 3 racing season, but post-season testing will take place at Circuito de Jerez from September 21-23.