CEO Bruno Michel looks back at an eventful opening round of the 2022 season and picks out his key topics from Sakhir.
Michel discusses the new era of Formula 3, the new teams and the new drivers, as well as looking the performances of the more established names on the grid.
A NEW ERA
We opened the 2022 season at the Bahrain International Circuit, a new venue for F3. We were supposed to race at that track in 2020, but the pandemic put our plans on hold. After Round 1, I can say that Bahrain is a great addition to our calendar: we saw some amazing racing. It was a great way to kick off the new season.
Also new last weekend was the introduction of this season’s racing format, which now sees a Sprint and a Feature race for F3, just like in F2. It really added to the show and the drama. We have to wait a bit for F3 to return in Imola next month, but I am sure the fans will be just as eager as I am to follow the second round of the season.
VAN AMERSFOORT RACING WASTED NO TIME
We have a new team on the grid with Van Amersfoort, and they wasted no time to show the other outfits that they are capable to adapt quickly to our Championship. On Friday, Franco Colapinto took pole position in commanding fashion. VAR did not score points on Saturday, and the Argentine driver was unable to transform pole to win, but the Dutch team claimed their first points on Sunday. They are off to a positive start.
THE WOES AND JOYS OF ART GRAND PRIX
It’s been an emotional weekend for ART: all three cars qualified in the top six on Friday, but only one of their drivers scored points in the Sprint Race, after Grégoire Saucy made contact with Victor Martins and both drivers were forced to retire.
Sunday was redemption day with Martins claiming the win and Saucy taking a maiden podium with third place. Juan Manuel Correa also took P4, scoring for the second time in a row last weekend.
ART are currently leading in the Teams standings, seven points ahead of PREMA Racing. Speaking of which, the Italian team also had their ups and downs last weekend, with all three drivers qualifying outside the top 10. Arthur Leclerc put on two impressive drives to recover from P13 and ended the Feature Race on the podium.
ROOKIES AT THE FRONT
With more than half of the grid made of rookies, I was quite interested to see how they would handle their first taste of F3.
As I said earlier, Colapinto took pole position on VAR’s debut, but this result is even more remarkable as the Argentine driver is also a newcomer. It’s always great to see rookies adapting quickly to the Championship.
This is also true for two other new faces: Oliver Bearman and Isak Hadjar. The Briton from PREMA crossed the line first on Saturday but was handed with a 5s time penalty for exceeding track limits. It gifted Hitech Grand Prix’s Hadjar the win. The Frenchman had been quickest at the pre-season tests. Bearman was able to score in both races on debut. Both men should be ones to watch this season.
Add to the mix Saucy who qualified ahead of teammates Martins and Correa, and who quickly learned from his mistakes in the Sprint Race. Meanwhile Zane Maloney currently lies in ninth in the Drivers’ Standings, for reigning champions Trident. The man from Barbados showed some strong pace and interesting moves last weekend. The more experienced drivers have been warned…