Four wins already in 2023, PREMA Racing continues to be a top contender in FIA Formula 3, but as has been the case in recent years, they face competition from close to home. Trident’s run in F3 since the 2021 season has been impressive, and again it looks like being an all-Italian battle at the top of the Teams’ Standings.
Paul Aron, Dino Beganovic and Zak O’Sullivan are each part of an F1 driver academy, and all three have enjoyed regular podium finishes to remain mathematically in contention for the Drivers’ Championship. Team Principal René Rosin says that each of them will need to find another level though in the three remaining rounds this season.
The team managed to maximise points across a race weekend on two occasions so far according to Rosin, and that will need to change going forward.
“We have a bit more to work on still. I think overall potential, we are not far away. All three are quite competitive. We’ve worked a lot in the last few rounds. I mean two cars on the podium in the Feature Race in Monaco is something that I think was evidence of that paying off as a result. In Barcelona, we did a decent job though. We could have started a bit more on the front foot but in the end, we maximised the points over the weekend.”
The team’s high-performance levels earlier in the Championship’s history has come from hitting the ground running and getting ahead of the competition says Rosin. That advantage has now subsided according to the PREMA boss, as rivals have continued to improve year after year.
The smallest of details will make all the difference with so much experience with the current generation of cars and in year five of FIA Formula 3, that is truer than ever before. The drivers behind the wheel are a pivotal factor, and Rosin says he is expecting to see them make a greater difference in the remaining races.
“The level of competition is pretty high and, of course, we all have the same car and everybody's getting closer and closer. It's not the first year when let’s say we have the benefit to maybe understand the car quicker than the other teams.
“We have a great bunch of drivers and we've done a few great results. After that, everybody can get closer, this is part of the logic of the F3 Championship, but we still have something left and we are pushing really hard to make sure that all three drivers can do some good results.”
O’Sullivan is the most experienced F3 driver in the PREMA 2023 squad and so far, the Briton has notched up more race wins than either of his teammates. Yet, the Briton is the furthest back in the Championship, albeit by a handful of points.
After a difficult Silverstone weekend for him, Rosin says it will be crucial for the Williams Academy driver to recapture his form from the Barcelona weekend. The PREMA Racing boss says it was O’Sullivan’s most impressive performance so far, while Beganovic and Aron, continuing to build on the bright spots in their rookie campaigns is the focus going into the final portion of the season, particularly on a Friday in Qualifying.
“I think Zak’s race in Barcelona in the Sprint Race was pretty solid. Without DRS, he was able to keep people with DRS behind him, which is difficult at a circuit such as Barcelona. That proved that we are going in the right direction.
“On Zak’s side, I'm expecting him to be making a step in Qualifying because in Bahrain, he was fighting for pole but made a mistake with track limits and in Melbourne as well, he had the chance to start on the first two rows. We need to make some changes and make sure that the results are going in the direction that we expect.
“For Dino (Beganovic), one of his question marks was Barcelona and he did an incredible job there because of his experience. Paul (Aron) really likes the car, he likes the Championship and likes the competition, and we’ve known him for quite a long time now. They've been racing with us for a few years and I'm looking forward to the next few weekends.
“I'm expecting for all the drivers to step up because we're working really hard with all the three drivers to make such a step. We are working very hard because I feel we miss a bit in Qualifying as a team. I want to make sure that everything is done, analysing every single possible situation. We are working very hard with all of them to try to maximise their potential and we are really looking forward to the final part of the season.”
After losing the lead in the Teams’ Standings to Trident, Rosin says his squad will need to be at their very best to recapture the top spot. The rival Italian team have hit their best form just as PREMA has slipped back from theirs.
With all three Trident drivers achieving a top five start for the Silverstone Feature Race, PREMA was always going to have a difficult time limiting the damage. Likewise, in the Drivers’ Championship, Gabriel Bortoleto has put some distance between himself and the chasing pack. Aron is the highest-placed driver in red, with 77 points to his name in fourth. Beganovic follows in fifth on 75 while O’Sullivan is a further two points back in P7.
PREMA is the only team with all three of its drivers inside the top 10 of the Drivers’ Championship, but there is plenty of room to improve in the final few races says Rosin.
“Trident is a great team. They have great drivers, and we need to try to do the best job possible. I'm not looking honestly, I'm not somebody that looks at the battle against the other teams. We need to do our best job. Once we have done the best job for us, then we analyse the results and if at the end of the year we are leading, then it means we’ve done the best job. Otherwise, it means somebody has done a better job than us, and we should learn from that.”
Trident’s victory at Silverstone was the team’s first since Bortoleto’s Melbourne Feature Race win and yet the team has always been a close challenger to PREMA in the intervening rounds. Rosin says that while the trophies and race victories are nice, ensuring the team is regularly scoring points in the top positions is a more crucial aim heading into the final races of the year.
“It's nice to win for sure, it's always good to win. But you need to maximise the points over the weekend in Qualifying, Sprint and Feature Races. This for us is more important. Of course, I like to win. I like my drivers on the podium, I likes to raise the trophies, but on the other hand if at the end of the weekend we don't win a race, but we scored the most points, I'm still happy.
“From my point of view, when you're battling in such an important Championship, you should not have any preference. You should try to do your best job as possible all the time that you go on the track either in Free Practice, Qualifying, Sprint and Feature Race.”
Like last year, Rosin expects the title fight to go right to the end of the season. It would be the third consecutive year in which the Teams’ Championship has been decided between Trident and PREMA, but there’s no way of knowing who will come out on top around the Temple of Speed.
“We’re very much looking forward to the final part of the season. It will be quite intense with quite a lot of weekends back-to-back. Up to the end of July, we would have had four rounds and it will be important to maximise the number of points before the final round in Monza.
“Honestly Monza is one of the circuits I love the least! Monaco is a gamble because it’s a street circuit and you can crash. In Monza, you could be the fastest but if you miss the slipstream, you could finish P5 or sixth. Monza is a nice circuit, we have a lot of Italian Tifosi, but it’s a bit of a gamble because it’s such a high-speed circuit and it’s not just down to the drivers and car, it’ll also be down to luck.”