A probable victory lost in Imola still plays on the mind of Caio Collet after the opening rounds of the 2022 Formula 3 season. The Brazilian has come close but not close enough to the top step and his maiden victory in the championship still awaits.
So far, this year has brought more frustrations for the talented youngster than high points, so we caught up with him ahead of round four as he gave an honest assessment of his campaign, what he is hoping to improve and what comes next at Silverstone.
“I think so far it’s been a pretty bad season to be honest,” he explained. “I think in the first three rounds we did a little bit but the first two races especially, we didn’t manage to put anything together, from my side in particular. I messed up Qualifying in Bahrain, and when you start at the back it makes life a little bit difficult.
“Then in Imola, I threw away a podium in the Sprint Race and then we made the wrong decision in in the Feature Race, where we were starting in the top seven. So, it’s quite a few points that we’ve wasted. I’m glad that we were able to recover some in Barcelona and do a decent round with points in both races and a podium but again, Qualifying wasn’t the best, so it’s been tough. We’ve had a break now to calm down a little bit and we need to make sure we come back strong for Silverstone.”
He's had plenty of time to reflect on errors in Qualifying that have hindered him for the remainder of the weekends. That session is the key Collet admits, but it’s an aspect of the weekend that he feels he needs to desperately improve upon.
Starting Feature Race positions of 13th, 9th, and 7th places in Bahrain, Imola and Barcelona respectively have left Collet with a comeback drive on his hands in all three rounds. But how will the MP Motorsport driver go about improving things? He says that it’s down to finding confidence, building on it and then ironing out critical details with the help of his team.
“To be honest, most of the mistakes are ones I’ve made myself, that’s something I need to look at. I need to do things that make me comfortable so I can gain a little bit of confidence. I’ve been in contact with the team, they are the main support this season. I need them to be in contact with me to see where we can improve for Silverstone. I think I made a similar mistake in Bahrain and Barcelona Qualifying, so it’s quite clear what I need to do for the next race.
“In my case in both weekends, I was really, really strong, always in the top three but maybe not the fastest. And then with the final lap, I didn’t manage to place myself well on track. So, I can have the tyres in the right window but not a good track position. It’s details like that – when you decide to go, how we are warming up the tyres and how you open the fast lap, it’s all really important. It’s something that I think we’re missing - the small details that make the difference in the end. I think in Barcelona I was two-tenths off pole, and I was P7. It’s really close and if you don’t get everything right, you’ll be in that same situation.
“If we do all of that at Silverstone and make everything right, especially on my side and I can put a good lap together with the tyres in the right window and right space on track, I know I’ll be in the top three. It’s just getting that confidence in myself and in the team that we will do the job and be up there. That’s something we need to work on and then we’ll see.”
Thankfully for him, F3 visits Silverstone next, a track that Collet says he enjoys and could suit his driving style. With the MP driver currently sitting in 11th in the Drivers’ Championship, every single point will be a benefit to him, and he’s eager to right the wrongs from rounds one to three.
Prior experience could also play a factor, with Collet one of those on the 2022 grid to have scored points in other categories around the British circuit.
“It does suit me. I’ve been there once, back in 2019 in Formula Renault. It’s a track I really like to drive. Even though I’ve only been there once, I know all the corners and details. It’s about maximising Qualifying, this will be really important but it’s a really nice track to race, one of the ones I enjoy the most.
“My main goal now together with the team is to win the Feature Race. We need to score some big points across the weekend so hopefully we turn things around at Silverstone. We’ll see what happens.”