A trip to Australia served up plenty of action and intrigue as teams and drivers got to grips with the challenging but hugely entertaining Albert Park Circuit.
With a fifth of the season already in the books, CEO Bruno Michel takes a look at the best bits of the weekend.
GABRIEL BORTOLETO ON A MISSION
The Brazilian driver from Trident, who won the Feature Race in Bahrain, proved again that he means business in his first F3 season. Gabriel Bortoleto quickly adapted to the Melbourne layout to take a maiden pole position. In the Sprint, he kept his cool to finish sixth in a chaotic race, and then he controlled the rest of the field from pole to the chequered flag on Sunday, taking a second Feature Race victory in a row. Scoring a total of 32 points in Australia, Bortoleto increases his lead in the Drivers’ Championship to 20 points over Grégoire Saucy.
TRIDENT STAYS ON TOP
After two rounds, Trident remains at the top of the Standings, enjoying a 30-points’ gap to reigning Champions PREMA Racing. Five teams have scored points consistently since the first race of the year, with Hitech Pulse-Eight currently third ahead of ART Grand Prix and Campos Racing. Seven teams have been featured on the podium as ART and Hitech collected silverware in Melbourne. Only two teams are yet to score points in 2023, as Rodin Carlin and PHM Racing by Charouz are still working hard to fight at the front. They have two official test sessions this month, first in Barcelona and then in Imola, to prepare ahead of the third round of the season on 19-21 May next month.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM MELBOURNE
Campos Racing only scored 10 points overall in Australia, but they were hard-earned, especially by Pepe Marti. This season’s inaugural race winner ended his Qualifying session prematurely following a crash. He had to start both races from P30 on the grid. Determined to show what he’s really made of, the young Spaniard put his head down on Sunday to carve his way through the field, up to a very impressive P7 at the flag.
Meanwhile, Hitech Pulse-Eight was featured on both podiums, courtesy of rookies Sebastián Montoya and Gabriel Minì. Both drivers claimed a maiden podium, with Montoya starting from reverse grid pole in the Sprint and finishing second. As for Minì, he had already taken pole position in Round 1 and the Italian was once again very quick in Qualifying, with P3. Unlucky in Bahrain, Minì capitalised on a good Qualifying result to pocket a first podium, with third place on Sunday.
It was a less enjoyable weekend for MP Motorsport. The Dutch team had crossed the line first on Saturday thanks to a very mature drive from Franco Colapinto, but all three of their cars were disqualified following a technical infringement. Sunday was another horrid day after Colapinto and Mari Boya crashed in the opening lap. I’m expecting MP to arrive in Imola determined to bounce back in style.
THE MANY CHALLENGES OF THE ALBERT PARK CIRCUIT
Everybody was very pleased and quite excited to race for the first time at the Albert Park Circuit. We knew that it was going to be challenging for the teams and the drivers, not only because it was a new venue, but also because it is quite a technical one. The walls are pretty close, and it takes a lot of guts to push the car to the limit. And sometimes, you push a little too much… The Sprint Race was the perfect example, and as a consequence, the racing was interrupted several times. But when the racing was on, it was thrilling!
AN INCREDIBLE ATMOSPHERE
Before traveling to Melbourne, we had heard that the fans over there were fantastic. We decided to have an open paddock so that we could get them as close as possible to our teams and our drivers. We also planned several trips to the Melbourne Walk. Yet, we were not ready for the amount of passion and the fans’ interest in our Championship. It sure helped that three Aussies race in F3 this year, but I am sure that even without this, the fans would have welcomed our entire field with just as much fervidness… Thank you, Melbourne!