MP Motorsport rookie Alex Dunne has been getting himself up to speed in Formula 3 though he is yet to record the statement result he knows he’s capable of.

The Irishman was honest in his assessment so far as his pace has been disguised by one or two errors along with misfortune for either him or the team.

“I would say the start of the season is probably more difficult than I would have liked,” Dunne admitted. “In Bahrain, the pre-season test was really strong in terms of pace and then for whatever reason, it just didn't really come together in the race weekend.

“Then in Melbourne, I think as a team, we struggled to be honest, I think you could see that with all three of us. Then Imola, I felt like the pace was good, but obviously I got disqualified and had to start from the back.

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“Monaco – it’s a case of should’ve, would’ve, could’ve. I think without the Red Flag, I would have been right there. So, the pace is there, it's just getting rid a few little things that are making the weekend go from good to bad.”

The flyaway rounds of Sakhir and Melbourne made showcasing the full speed of the Dunne/MP package tricky, though the driver picks out the tyres as being the biggest performance factor he’s been getting acclimatised to in the early part of the season.

Dunne hasnt had the headline results yet but the McLaren junior driver expects them sooner rather than later
Dunne hasn't had the headline results yet but the McLaren junior driver expects them sooner rather than later

“The biggest thing to get used to in F3 is the way the tyres are, you have an out-lap and a push lap and that's it,” he continued. “There's no real build, you don't get a couple laps like in GB3 where you’d get three or four push laps in a row and then you do your best lap when the tyres start to heat up and everything starts to heat up.

“In F3, it's out of the box you have a warm-up and then bam, the tyres are already good enough to do a lap good enough for Pole. So, coming into that is one of the harder things, but already from Round 1, I felt pretty comfortable with that. I've jumped into it well and I felt comfortable from the start.”

“I feel that when the pieces are put together, I'm capable of finishing at the front"

Now though the time has come to turn potential into points, and the McLaren Driver Development talent says he already feels he has the speed. It will now become a case of using what he’s learned fighting out of position for the points-paying places against rivals.

“Now we're kind of at the point of the season where, at least from my point of view, the results need to come. I felt the pace in Imola and Monaco was strong, Qualifying has been good, race pace has been good. I felt like I've been pretty good at coming through the field as well. So hopefully when I get to race at the front, the things I've learned being where I shouldn't be will help me in that situation.

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“I feel that when the pieces are put together, I'm capable of finishing at the front. We now have a triple-header coming up with three tracks that I've raced on before and I enjoy them. So hopefully we can hit the ground running and the results can start coming.”

Barcelona is up next, a venue everyone already has three days-worth of experience around in 2024 following in-season testing. While that is valuable to everyone for establishing setups, it also heightens the bar says Dunne, who expects margins to be very fine as a result.

Tyres are a huge factor in F3 and the MP driver says hes now up to speed with the Pirelli tyres
Tyres are a huge factor in F3 and the MP driver says he's now up to speed with the Pirelli tyres

He added that with everyone up to speed much quicker than usual, everyone will be battling hard to find those final tenths of a second that make all the difference.

“It will make it a little bit easier starting the weekend. But then again, it’ll also probably make the weekend a bit harder because everybody has had three days of testing so that means ultimately, the grid is going to be super close.

“It's not like going to a new track where some people have learned it, and some haven't. Everybody knows everything about Barcelona, where it’s all about how much speed you can carry in all the corners. I think Qualifying will be super close, which will probably make it quite tough as well.

Reflecting overall on his experience in F3 so far, Dunne says his approach could evolve in the coming rounds as he seeks to rise up the Championship table.

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Currently 20th in the Drivers’ Standings, the MP driver says he will be targeting points finishes to put himself back into top 10 contention.

“Ultimately, I want to do as well as possible but at the same time, I think points need to come so for example, if I'm second in the Feature Race, doing something stupid trying to win is not really the ideal thing to do. So, wherever I am, I’m going to try and maximise on that and score as many points as possible.

“But of course, at the same time, you want to finish as high as you can. So, wherever that may be, we'll have to see but I think from now on I just want to score as many points as I can.”