Franco Colapinto mastered an action-packed Monza Sprint Race to secure his fourth win in Formula 3, equalling the all-time record. Starting on reverse grid pole, the MP Motorsport driver lost the lead to teammate Mari Boya at the first corner, and the pair exchanged the lead four times before the Argentinian made a breakaway in the final five laps.
2023 Champion Gabriel Bortoleto climbed up the order early on and bided his time to wrestle second from Boya on the final lap. The Spaniard achieved his maiden podium and a 1-3 finish for the Dutch team.
AS IT HAPPEENED
Promoted to the reverse grid front row, Boya took full advantage with a lightning launch off the line to get the better of Colapinto for the lead. Behind them, disaster struck for Paul Aron and Josep María Martí.
The slightest of contact between Caio Collet and Aron on the run to Turn 1 left the #1 PREMA Racing driver with a puncture. The Estonian spun and collected both Jonny Edgar and Martí. Forced to pit for repairs, Collet was later awarded a 10-second time penalty for the incident.
In the battle for third, ART Grand Prix teammates Grégoire Saucy and Nikola Tsolov made contact, forcing the Bulgarian to defend from Taylor Barnard behind. The Jenzer Motorsport driver managed to make it through to fourth as the Safety Car was deployed at the end of the opening lap.
Boya got racing back underway on Lap 5, as Zak O’Sullivan found his way past Tsolov for fifth, followed by Christian Mansell and Bortoleto two laps later.
Having dispatched Tsolov, Bortoleto made his own move on the Australian ahead. With the benefit of DRS, the Trident driver went down the inside into Ascari for sixth. Oliver Goethe was also on a charge from P22, clearing teammate Leonardo Fornaroli and Tsolov in one corner for eighth.
Colapinto took charge on Lap 10, passing Boya for the lead into the first corner. Dueling over third, O’Sullivan and Saucy made contact out of Turn 1, leaving the Swiss driver with a puncture and falling down the order. O’Sullivan was later awarded a 10-second time penalty for the contact.
Battling for the lead, Boya utilised the DRS to breeze past Colapinto on Lap 12. However, the #10 driver was back past a lap later and began to break clear of the chasing pack behind with five laps remaining.
O’Sullivan soon found himself forced to go on the defensive as Barnard nipped past his fellow Briton into P4. The fast-charging Goethe then made an attempt on O’Sullivan into Turn 1, but a lock up sent the German driver down the escape road, dropping him behind Fornaroli and Hitech Pulse-Eight’s Luke Browning one lap later.
Out front, Colapinto brought home back-to-back Sprint Race victories at Monza. Bortoleto’s patience behind Boya paid off, as the Brazilian claimed second with a move into Turn 4 on the last lap.
Barnard added more points to Jenzer’s tally in fourth. Browning stormed his way through the pack to take fifth with a series of late overtakes from P27 on the grid, demoting Fornaroli on the penultimate lap to sixth.
Goethe finished in seventh ahead of Gabriele Minì, who made up 18 places. Mansell and Tsolov rounded out the top 10 points scorers, as O’Sullivan’s penalty dropped him from P5 to P12.
KEY QUOTE – Franco Colapinto, MP Motorsport
“We won the Sprint Race, super happy after yesterday having a pretty difficult Qualifying. Today to win the race, it’s really nice. It’s really nice for the team, also to have Mari on the podium. It’s really good points for the Teams’ Championship and also for the Drivers’, so I’m just really happy with the pace of the car.
“We were really strong at the front, and we could stay there the whole race with the two cars, so I’m super happy and proud of the team. I’m super excited for tomorrow, but it’s also nice to see the team happy and give them a bit of a nice result to celebrate tonight.”
THE CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
Though the Championship title is all wrapped up Gabriel Bortoleto continues in fine form, increasing his tally in the Drivers’ Standings to 153 points. The 10 points for victory have proved extremely valuable to Franco Colapinto in the battle for second, as he moves up to P2 on 110 points, four points clear of Paul Aron. Josep María Martí sits in fourth on 105, with Zak O’Sullivan close behind on 101 in fifth.
Despite failing to score, PREMA Racing hold on to the lead of the Teams’ Championship by a whisker. The title will go down to the final race, as just four points separate them from compatriots Trident, on 301 and 297 points respectively. Hitech Pulse-Eight overtake Campos Racing for third by a single point on 174, whilst MP Motorsport close up in fifth on 161.
Oliver Goethe will be looking to end his season on a high when he lines up on pole for Sunday’s Feature Race. The final race of the 2023 campaign gets underway at 08:15 local time.