The 2024 season is fast approaching and for 17 of our drivers, it will be their first full FIA Formula 3 campaign while the other 13 will be hoping that this is finally their year.

While every driver has experienced the highs and lows of motorsport, the hard work and dedication never waivers, but what are the most important things that they could be taking into account?

Who better to ask than the reigning FIA Formula 3 Champion himself, Gabriel Bortoleto.

Having achieved his F3 crown with Trident, becoming the first driver from Brazil to win the Formula 3 Championship, he has graduated to Formula 2 with Invicta Racing, but has a few words of wisdom to impart ahead of his own rookie season in F2.

“I would say to just go step-by-step. Don’t try and overdo stuff, be consistent and learn every time you jump in the car,” he began. “If you do this properly, the results and the speed and the right way to race will naturally happen.”

That was certainly the case for the McLaren Driver Development Programme member, as he made the early rounds count to take two Feature Race wins and built up a sizeable points advantage over the rest.

By not overthinking things, Bortoleto was in control for much of the campaign even when he wasn’t fighting for race victories. High-scoring points finishes filled up his results and made the task of hunting him down all the more challenging for rivals.

“It’s a different way to race,” the Brazilian continued. “The tyres are different from other categories that drivers will have been in before.

“There’s quite a big bit of degradation and drop in grip during the races so you need to be smart. You need to race using intelligence and understand what the situation is around you. Tyres and how to manage them, doing it properly, that’s a huge thing for me.”

Bortoleto achieved his F3 title with unmatched consistency across the 2023 campaign
Bortoleto achieved his F3 title with unmatched consistency across the 2023 campaign

Using the knowledge built up over the post-season and pre-season tests is vital in order to maximise their education and shorten the learning curve upon entering a new Championship, moving team or refining technique to eek out those final few hundredths.

Bortoleto’s fine understanding of the Pirelli tyres underneath him was on display several times in 2023. Whether it be his defensive drive in Melbourne, fending off Gregoire Saucy for his second race win or in Budapest, where several struggled to maintain their speed across the entire Sprint Race.

Having qualified in ninth position, Bortoleto started from fourth but made a late-race pass on a fading Nikita Bedrin to secure P2 on the podium.

Reflecting on his title-winning campaign, Bortoleto says fully understanding the longevity of the season and remaining focused on the bigger picture throughout was a key point he would emphasise for all drivers going into the year.

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“Looking back and thinking about something I wish I knew before the season, I’d say understanding that the Championship is long. Even though I was consistent during last year, you don’t realise how long it is until you arrive at that final round and look back and see how many races you did, how many points you left on the table or how many you earned when you got things right.

“Understanding how long the Championship is, that’s a huge thing. Going race-by-race and focusing on that, maximising the weekends when you aren’t able to win or have the car to be competitive. When you don’t have that, you still need to be up there and scoring points.”