Ahead of the three-part finale that takes us from Spa-Francorchamps to Zandvoort and ends the season at Monza, we’ve taken the time to assess which of the drivers have been the most impressive and who will be aiming to rebound in the final races of 2022.
Going beyond the basics like pole positions, number of wins and fastest laps, we have delved into the stats and assessed which of the title contenders must pull their socks up and who might be a dark horse, well-placed to snatch the title at the last hurdle.
Tied on points heading into the triple header, Isack Hadjar and Victor Martins are locked in a fight of the Frenchmen for the Formula 3 crown. On the face of it, the Hitech Grand Prix driver has been the more impressive, claiming three race victories to Martins’ two. Martins’ two non-scores of course tilt the scales in Hadjar’s direction but it’s the details that reveal how strong a favourite the ART Grand Prix driver is for the Championship. Martins has posted up a better average Qualifying position (5.67 to 6.67), has been closer to pole on average than his rival (+0.310s to +0.389s) and has been far more consistent when he’s reached the chequered flag. Both have scored an average of 17.6 points per round, but Martins’ average finish across this season when he’s seen the flag is a remarkable 4.8, compared to Hadjar’s 7.16. A reversion to the mean should help Martins make it second time lucky in Formula 3 by the time the chequered flag falls on Sunday at Monza to claim the title.
Yet to take a victory this season but flying nicely under the radar, Oliver Bearman is threading together a solid rookie campaign at PREMA Racing. The Briton has secured four podium finishes this year (three third place finishes and one second place) and is surely closing in on a maiden victory any day now. While his season has been quiet compared to rivals around him, his underlying numbers are impressive. Bearman has the same average Qualifying position as ART’s Martins (5.67) and has the third best average finishing position of the field (7.75). His gap to pole position stands at +0.321s on average, just shy of Martins’ average of +0.310s. He also has the second lowest combined total race time in the 2022 Feature Races at 4 hours, 27 minutes, once more behind Martins only, so he’s been there or there abouts in the races despite missing out on a first win. If he can keep up his impressive averages that rank him ahead of Championship leader Hadjar and teammate Leclerc, he could just sneak his way to the title as the top two battle away.
They made headlines ahead of the summer break after contact in the Budapest Sprint Race left the two PREMA’s in need of repairs and team boss René Rosin was disappointed with the dropped points. Arthur Leclerc and Jak Crawford, third and fourth in the standings respectively, remain in the hunt for the 2022 crown but as their boss told us following the weekend in Hungary, mistakes and lost points across the campaign have already had a huge effect on their seasons. For Leclerc, he has pieced together a somewhat scrappy follow-up run in his second year in Formula 3. A single win, coming in the Silverstone Feature Race, has been the high point in an otherwise middling campaign. He has an average Qualifying position of 8.3, but it’s the gap to the front that is the worrying part. At an average of +0.646s off pole position across the ’22 season, it ranks him eight of 10 for drivers currently in the top 10 in the Championship, well adrift of the two rivals ahead of him in the title fight.
Likewise, Crawford’s Friday efforts have been off what he has been aiming for. The American’s Qualifying average spot is 9.16, the highest of the PREMA drivers though his gap is improved on the Monégasque’s, just +0.463s off pole on average in comparison. Leclerc’s poor Qualifying results have left him with a lot to make up for on race days, and an average finish of P8 is still down on Isack Hadjar’s 7.16 and teammate Oliver Bearman’s 7.75. Crawford’s results trend backwards though in the races, falling minimally to an average of 9.25 by the chequered flag.
That by no means rules them out entirely though. PREMA’s drivers have all shown great speed this season and improvements in consistency, which both Crawford and Leclerc are capable of, would push them back into a stronger position to fight for the Championship. Leclerc’s race pace and powers of recovery are well documented while Crawford showed in Barcelona he can put the bigger picture first, taking second and a bundle of points with it in a mature drive rather than making a mistake chasing down David Vidales in the closing moments.
Caio Collet has admitted he has been disappointed in himself this year, and eighth in the Championship is probably a fair reflection of the Brazilian’s efforts so far. Averaging P9 in Qualifying, his average race result shows a slight drop to 9.63. His Budapest performances prior to the summer break show glimpses of what could be possible with the MP Motorsport team firing on all cylinders to sweep the weekend. That kind of performance needs to become regular for Collet to push on in his development and fight for better placement in the Championship. Improving on his 8.5 points-per-round average would be a good place to start.
There may well be light at the end of the tunnel for Juan Manuel Correa after his struggles. In the final round in Budapest prior to the summer break, Correa delivered a superb performance to carve his way through the pack to a sixth-place finish in the Feature Race. Taking advantage of the changeable conditions, the ART Grand Prix driver recorded his second-best Feature Race result of the year in style, making overtakes right up to the final lap. He has an average finish of 9.6 when he’s reached the chequered flag this season, a great achievement considering issues with fitness following a stress fracture earlier this year. More performances like Budapest in the remaining rounds would be a stellar effort from Correa.
Alexander Smolyar and Roman Stanek have put together solid seasons as third-year campaigners, both with experience over their rivals that has led to varying degrees of success so far.
Stanek for instance is tied with teammate Zane Maloney as the third-best qualifier in terms of average grid position so far this year (5.5). He also boasts the second smallest gap to pole position across the season (+0.273), second only to his Bajan teammate once again. Unfortunately for Stanek, his race results have not been up to that level. He has an average finishing position of 9.45 and he sits sixth in the Championship after his early season title charge faded, dropping almost four spots on average across the season on race days - the area to improve in the remaining rounds is clear.
Likewise, Smolyar has a better average Qualifying (8.6) and finishing position (9) than title outsider Crawford, despite being 17 points away from the PREMA driver in the Championship. He signed off the first two-thirds of the campaign in style, winning the Budapest Feature Race comfortably in tricky conditions but has to go forward in the races to drive down his average race result. The drop is minimal, losing just 0.4 spots on average, but his efforts must go in the opposite direction for the final three rounds if he is to break into the top five.
Franco Colapinto has been doing wonders with Van Amersfoort Racing. The Argentine has a race victory under his belt, winning the Imola Sprint Race, and has a further two podiums on his record for 2022. He is currently P9 in the Drivers’ Championship and is in contention to be one of the biggest surprises of the season. His average Qualifying position for the season stands at 10.5, putting him within range of a Sprint victory and points on Sunday in the Feature event. His average finish is 8.7, a solid effort that shows he is moving forward in the races more often than not.
His two retirements of the season have been out of his hands. He was set for points in Barcelona’s Sprint Race when his engine cover became detached from the car, while contact on the opening lap at Silverstone again not of his making meant it was retirement in the Feature Race there too. While he might be disappointed to take home an average of 8.5 points per round, had he finished those races it would likely put him in range of the PREMA drivers. A single point behind Caio Collet in the standings and 21 off of Alexander Smolyar in P6, who knows where the VAR driver might end up by Monza.
Zane Maloney is arguably one of the unluckiest drivers on the 2022 grid. The Barbadian rookie has suffered the most retirements of any driver inside the top 20 in the standings. In Bahrain, technical trouble undid his impressive start from fifth on the grid and his Imola early exit was due to a driver error while leading in tough conditions. In Austria, he was taken out of the top five in the Sprint race after PREMA teammates Arthur Leclerc and Oliver Bearman scrapped for position, and that’s not to mention his fightback performances. He secured P13 after a pitlane start in the Barcelona Feature Race and, after starting third in the Silverstone Feature and following more contact with Bearman, rescued P11 having been last at the end of the opening lap.
And yet, despite six non-scoring results and his P10 position in the Drivers’ Championship, his underlying numbers are hugely impressive. He has the best average Qualifying position of any driver, the smallest average gap to pole (+0.247s) and has an average race result good enough to put him fifth on the list just behind the title contenders. On his good days, he’s at the sharp end in Qualifying and usually fighting around the top five in both the Sprint and Feature events. Keep an eye on Maloney for the rest of the season, he’s been a standout performer this year!
Honourable mentions go to two stand-out performers in Zak O’Sullivan and David Vidales. For the former, his P2 finish at his home race at Silverstone in the Feature Race after securing pole position is the high point, but a storming drive in Budapest to take fourth is the latest for the Carlin driver. Having been 17th with a handful of laps to go, he made his swap to slicks work best to home in on points and almost a podium. He currently sits just two points outside the top 10 in his rookie season. Likewise, Vidales earned a great result on home soil, taking victory in Barcelona in the Feature Race for Campos Racing. He is 15th in the Drivers’ Championship currently. If the Spaniard can show his raw speed regularly in the final rounds, who knows where the Campos man might end up in the standings.