In a few days, the teams and their drivers will leave the pit lane at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari kicking off Round 3 of the 2024 campaign in Imola.

It will be their first time out on track since April’s Barcelona in-season test where they spent three days churning through the laps looking to improve their performance. But how much better can you get from the test?

Well, that largely depends on their aims as for some teams it is about improving their current setup direction. There are others who are mainly looking to get their drivers more up to speed while some are looking to do both.

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For example, Jenzer Motorsport were able to turn their season around in 2023, having learned plenty from the in-season tests in Barcelona and Imola. After a slow start that saw them fighting to get into the points, they found themselves challenging for podiums and victories come the end of the season.

At the final three rounds in Budapest, Spa-Francorchamps and Monza, between their rookie drivers Nikita Bedrin and Taylor Barnard they achieved five podiums – the latter even winning the Feature Race at the Belgian event.

Team Principal Andreas Jenzer explained that a part of a reason for their early season struggles – in which they had scored only two points after the first two rounds – was the lack of experience their drivers had in Sakhir and Melbourne.

Jenzer made a huge in-season turnaround including a double podium finish at Spa
Jenzer made a huge in-season turnaround including a double podium finish at Spa

“In Bahrain we showed that the speed was there,” said Jenzer, recalling his team’s start to the 2023 season. “I don’t want to call it luck because track limits is a mistake, but we showed that we were capable of being in the top 10 and fighting for points. Track limits hit two of the drivers, but the speed was there and in Melbourne too.

“The more experienced drivers had a bit of an easier time, it’s a street track. Drivers who did Monaco, Pau – that helped them a bit, but our drivers never raced there.

"But then we came back to Europe, had a great test in Barcelona and… we saw the tendency of our drivers, both Taylor and Nikita, they’d only raced in Europe. They knew a little bit from testing and from the simulator, but they’d never raced on a lot of the tracks in 2023.”

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This is a somewhat similar to the situation that Rodin Motorsport find themselves in this week. Team Manager Sam Waple recently said of his line-up of rookies Callum Voisin and Joseph Loake as well as the slightly more experienced Piotr Wisnicki, who did three rounds in 2023, were “undertested” in that each were lacking in track time relative to other drivers on the grid.

They are yet to score a point so far this season, like Jenzer in 2023, believing they had the potential to do so. As a result, while their priority was to give all three drivers as much track time as possible during in-season testing, they were also keen to improve their performance.

“We feel that we managed to get a handle on a couple of things we had been chasing in the car this year and it helped us give a good direction,” started Waple. “But ultimately the biggest change that we are seeing is that the drivers are fairly undertested.

“They didn't get to do a lot of testing that a lot of drivers on the grid have done. They are obviously first year drivers, in particular Callum and Joseph. Piotr had only done half a year, so they are very low on experience and mileage in the car.

Rodin used the three days as a way to get their drivers up to speed and to improve their car
Rodin used the three days as a way to get their drivers up to speed and to improve their car

“I think that as the year has progressed, they have really started to understand what this car takes to be fast and how to drive it. I think the midseason test in Barcelona allowed them to experiment, drive a decent amount of mileage and really understand how to get the most out of this car.

“I think that has been almost the biggest change going into the European season. I think it's given Joseph a lot of confidence about what he needs to do, and certainly the same with the other two. Callum has just continued to get faster and faster, and I think coming out of Barcelona he understands what he needs to do now in Qualifying in particular.”

MP Motorsport’s Team Principal Sander Dorsman somewhat agreed with Waple’s assessment as his all-rookie line-up of Alexander Dunne, Tim Tramnitz and Kacper Sztuka are all finding their feet in F3.

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“Obviously we have three rookie drivers this year,” explained Dorsman. “So, let's say with F3 starting in Bahrain and Melbourne it’s obviously all new territory for them, so it's never super easy for rookies to start.”

“For sure if you have an experienced driver that knows Melbourne it's always a bit of an advantage.”

He added: “It will need some time but at least it's nice to have the in-season test in Barcelona. After two rounds, you have the opportunity to have three test days where you can do much more mileage and work together with the drivers.”

But Dorsman does not believe you can make too much of an improvement with all of the teams already well-versed in what is required with these cars to go quickly. He acknowledged that they did look at taking a step forward in Qualifying but believes that because they have had these cars for six seasons, there is only so much you can do.

VAR were looking to revise their setup philosophy in a bid to find more performance
VAR were looking to revise their setup philosophy in a bid to find more performance

“For sure we will improve,” he said. “I hope it will be drastic because that means that hopefully we will be on pole. I am pretty sure we will be able to do better, but the good thing is now they know the upcoming tracks, so that's already a step forward.

“To be honest, we are on the sixth year of this car. I doubt a lot of teams will suddenly find in Imola a major setup improvement from the test. So, I think it's rather together with the drivers, learning the cars, the procedures, and gaining experience together like that.”

But for Klaudija Jakaj and Van Amersfoort Racing, they hope that this is not the case and that they can make major gains with their car, as they have also not scored a point this year.

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Speaking prior to the in-season test, Team Manager Jakaj viewed the three days as an opportunity to have close look at the way they set up their cars.

“It gives teams the opportunity to revise the set-up philosophy and try out new things,” said Jakaj. “Track time is limited in F3, so the test days have to be used fully to extract the most out of the performance.”

All three teams and their rivals will obviously be keen to take a step forward in performance and results. The test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya will play a big part in that but for different reasons, and we will get see it starting in Imola this weekend.