Slotting into the fold at the team that helped Victor Martins to glory last year, Kaylen Frederick knows what’s expected of him as he takes over the reins of the #7 ART Grand Prix car. However, the American racer says he’s more ready than ever before to mount his own title charge.
After four years driving for UK-based teams, with two of those in Formula 3 with Carlin and Hitech Pulse-Eight, he’s now easing into life with the French squad. Taking the transition in his stride, the third time could be the charm as Frederick seems rejuvenated ahead of the 2023 campaign getting underway.
“Compared to previous years, I think I feel a lot more confident,” he explained. “Something’s just clicked really well with the team from post-season testing and everything. They’re very welcoming, but they’re also very established as well, they have a lot of resources to help me improve on what I need to and to help me show the results that I think I’m capable of coming up this year.
“Overall, I’m really confident – definitely more than in the last few years – and I think we’re going into this year with a really good package. It's almost surprising how good it's been and how smooth it's been. Just the way they structured everything at the tests and the sim stuff is all great, and a lot of my views on things are lined up with theirs.”
While Martins’ success does put a certain level of pressure and expectations on Frederick as the most experienced of the ART trio, the 20-year-old sees the added benefit and assurance of knowing that they have the form to take the title.
Lining up alongside fellow returnee Grégoire Saucy and rookie Nikola Tsolov, the competition will be stiff, but he believes that will only help drive the team further forward.
“It's definitely a positive, I think no matter what the pressure is to always win. Whether you're in a bad car or a good car, that pressure is always there, but it makes it easier when you know the car can win. Overall, I think it’s definitely a positive to know that they achieved it and it’s a positive to know what the team’s ambitions are, not only just to win the Drivers’ Championship, but the Teams’ Championship as well. The whole team are pushing forward a lot and we’ve got a really good line-up for this year as well.”
Frederick has two seasons of F3 experience under his belt yet his ability to build momentum in his maiden campaign in 2021 was hampered. He missed seven races in 2020 due to a fractured and dislocated left thumb and then immediately testing positive for COVID-19 for the following round.
Effectively starting from scratch once again last year with Hitech, Frederick admits that 2022 wasn’t where he wanted to be in terms of results – finishing 17th in the Standings with seven points-finishes. Although starting anew at ART means there’ll be areas he’ll need to adjust to, he believes that the effort they’ve put into integrating him into the team since post-season testing last September will pay off, as he targets the top three finish as a minimum.
“There are a couple ways to look at it. Obviously the first year was quite tricky with my injury and then missing pretty much the middle part of the season with COVID on top of that. It was a pretty challenging year, and it was hard to get into a real rhythm, so there wasn't a huge amount of learning. There was a little bit, but I couldn't properly get settled into the Championship.
“After last year, there's a lot of stuff that I've learned, but everything adds up and every year that you're racing in a car gives you more experience. I'm sure that those last two years will definitely be able to help me, but I also think that with each team specifically, there's a new set of challenges and things to work on. There’ll be a few different things to adapt to, but overall, I think I'm ready to take on the challenges that it might present.”
He added: “Whenever you start with a new team, there's always a new set of challenges. I've just been embracing those for the most part since I've made the transition and working on whatever I need to, and once we show up to Bahrain, we'll be able to put some good work in. I think at Jerez we made a great start and started off on the right foot, so I think we'll be looking pretty strong.
“I think the optimal goal for everybody, especially with a team like ART, is to go for the Championship. That’s got to be the primary goal, but stuff happens in racing. So, I think I'd be happy to settle with the top three, but I'm going to be shooting for the top this year.”