Making the most of his pre-season preparation, Gabriele Minì believes managing the swift switch around between Qualifying and the races will be the main area to tackle in the early stages of his first season in Formula 3.
With many expecting him to be a frontrunning contender after taking the runner-up honours in the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine last year, he acknowledges that there’ll be a lot for him to contend with at the start.
“The step from Formula Regional to F3 is quite a big step. The car is very different, much faster, much more fun to drive, so I can’t wait for it,” said Minì.
“I don’t really have a goal because in F3 testing the pace was not bad, but we will see everybody’s real pace, every team and drivers’, in the first Qualifying. So, for the moment I will just try to do the best I can every time and then see where that puts me.”
He’ll have lots of experience to lean on as he reunites with Hitech Grand Prix, the same team that helped push Isack Hadjar to mount a title challenge in his rookie campaign. However, the 17-year-old isn’t underestimating how steep the learning curve will be, but after netting 13 top five finishes out of 20 in 2022, he hopes his improved race craft can translate easily to the new machinery.
“It’s very nice working with Hitech, they have a really good method of work. We’ve worked together already both in the Asian F3 Championship last year and in the F3 and I find myself working really well with them.
“Last season was pretty good, finishing P2 after not an easy season. I think we learnt a lot, especially with the races. I learnt a lot of things about the race craft, so I think that’s the main thing that we’ll be wanting to take into F3 this year.”
He added: “I believe the races will be the toughest part of F3 and the car performance because in the races, it’s a completely different car compared to Qualifying. So, it will be quite hard to adapt myself in just a very short amount of time. In Qualifying, to do a really, really good lap immediately is not an easy job, but that’s the same for everyone.”
Fortunately, his familiarity with a majority of the circuits on the calendar should ease his transition – with only Sakhir, Melbourne and Silverstone being uncharted territory and his experiences navigating the walls of Monte Carlo could give him the upper hand over the second and third-year drivers.
Whilst relishing the opportunity to race down under for the first time, Minì recognises that every lap of data will be crucial, as track evolution could prove to be hugely influential in how his weekend pans out.
“To be honest, I really like the fact that I will discover new tracks. It’s good that we have some tracks like Monaco, Spielberg and Barcelona that we already know because it means you have some more references already. We’re going to Melbourne, which of course will be a new challenge for everybody. The track will have a massive improvement from Free Practice to Quali, so it will be very hard, but I think it will be a lot of fun to go to the other side of the world and discover a really nice track.
Ahead of his F3 debut, Minì participated in the first two rounds of the Formula Regional Middle East Championship with Hitech. Scoring a best result of fifth, he says the results weren’t the sole aim, instead using it as a valuable opportunity to shake off any rustiness prior to pre-season testing.
“What I’ve been doing in Formula Regional Middle East has mainly been like a wake up just to start the season, to have some racing before going into the actual season that matter. This is just a warmup.”