It was a weekend in which both Championships were settled but while one was a little more predictable before arriving in Monza, the other went right to the wire.
Who left a final mark on the 2023 Formula 3 campaign? Here’s a team-by-team rundown to put a bow on the season.
For the fourth time in FIA Formula 3, PREMA Racing were crowned Teams’ Champions once again, successfully defending the title in a closely-fought season with compatriots Trident. The 19-point gap that separated the two outfits in the end doesn’t tell the story of the finale in which the balance of the battle ebbed and flowed in and out of both teams’ favour. A point-less Sprint Race for PREMA left the door ajar for Trident to force their way through, with all three drivers scoring on Saturday. But fortunes were reversed in the Feature Race and a composed drive by Zak O’Sullivan headed a trio of PREMA scoring results, as Paul Aron took home seventh and Dino Beganovic ninth.
With the Drivers’ Championship all but over arriving at Monza, Aron had hoped to take second in the Championship, but it was teammate O’Sullivan that kept himself out of trouble to secure the runner-up spot, capping off the season with a podium finish and P2. The Williams Driver Academy talent came through from sixth on the grid, keeping himself out of trouble and fought hard for victory, ultimately ending up just short. Still, the Briton ended a run of score-less results that arguably kept him out of the Championship fight until it was too late. Keeping numbers 1, 2 and 3 on the noses of the PREMA cars for 2024 will be a point of great pride for the Italian team.
Gabriel Bortoleto became the first Brazilian driver to claim the Drivers’ Championship in FIA Formula 3 history, and freed from the weight of securing the title, he put on quite the show at Monza. Qualifying fifth, the Trident driver was in the thick of the action in both the Sprint and Feature Races. He was in inspired form on Saturday, carving his way up to second. On Sunday he got even more aggressive, and while he fell down to the lower reaches of the top 10, the Brazilian fought back to achieve a top five finish. With just three non-scoring results all year, his unparalleled consistency formed the bedrock to a title charge nobody could prevent.
Things didn’t go according to plan for his teammates across the Monza weekend. Oliver Goethe was set to play a pivotal role in the outcome of the Teams’ Championship having secured pole, but a throttle pedal issue emerging just as he approached his P1 grid slot on the starting grid put him on the sidelines and dented Trident’s aspirations. Three retirements for the German driver in the final four races prevented what might have been a late season push for a top five finish in the Championship. Teammate Leonardo Fornaroli remarked on social media after that his home event hadn’t been kind to him. He was penalised after a battle with Aron that left the PREMA driver in the gravel at Turn 2, and Fornaroli finished ninth on the road and 15th in the end.
What a way to end the season for MP Motorsport. Franco Colapinto claimed the honours in the Sprint Race, his second victory of 2023 while Jonny Edgar took a maiden victory in the Championship on Sunday in the Feature. It was arguably the team’s strongest showing in terms of pure pace across all three drivers since Barcelona. The two wins and a further two scoring finishes, including a first visit to the podium for Mari Boya, meant the Dutch squad overhauled Campos Racing for third in the Championship in the final round.
2023 was a very tough year for MP, but to have ended their F3 campaign on such a strong note is a well-deserved reward for all their efforts, perseverance and a true demonstration of the team’s capabilities. Colapinto, Boya and Edgar each grew into the year as it progressed, and Monza was the culmination of their hard work. A few costly errors prevented Colapinto from pushing on and challenging Bortoleto, but around Monza he was back to his best. Edgar’s stout defence of the lead and intelligence to keep the pack guessing on each Safety Car restart was vital in his winning effort and capped off a second half of the year in which he looked much more competitive. Boya enjoyed three points finishes in the final five races, his best patch of form all season.
It was a weekend full of personal highs and some competitive lows for Josep María Martí. The Spaniard was announced as the newest Red Bull Junior Team member on Thursday, but things peaked early for him on Italian soil as on track, his Monza experience could hardly have gone worse. Title decided in Qualifying, P13 and missing out on reverse grid pole by 0.095s was salt in the wound. An opening lap retirement following contact into Turn 1 ended his Sprint Race early and things weren’t much better on Sunday either. Running as high as ninth in the opening laps, his race was over on Lap 16 following more contact, again not of his own making. 2023 will be chalked up as a year of what might have been for Martí.
Christian Mansell enjoyed himself at Monza with a seventh and eighth place finish in the Sprint and Feature Races respectively. He got his elbows out in the middle of the pack, fighting for both scoring results from 14th on the grid. With just two non-points finishes since Spielberg, the Australian more than found his feet in F3 in the second half of the year. Newcomer Joshua Dufek handled his debut capably, finishing 14th in both races. Having qualified in 20th and with all the drama unfolding throughout the field, the Swiss driver handled the occasion just fine.
It was looking like a strong weekend in the making for Hitech Pulse-Eight. Gabriele Minì ended the Qualifying sixth, Luke Browning was ninth while Sebastián Montoya narrowly missed reverse grid pole in 13th. That was until the trio were excluded from the results for a sporting infringement. It left them 26th, 27th and 28th and with a huge hill to climb. The challenge was well in hand though, as in the end, Minì claimed P6 following a storming drive while Browning lost fifth to post-race disqualification for a technical breach. No matter, the bigger points on Sunday looked there for the taking.
None of them could quite repeat the feat though, and Montoya was left out of the Feature Race following slight contact with Minì at Turn 4. It was a year that had looked so much more promising than what played out for all three drivers. Minì’s early season chances were seriously derailed in Barcelona, and he could never quite recapture the same speed he had in the opening rounds. Browning missed plenty of scoring opportunities to a variety of reasons, and 15th in the Championship didn’t reflect his speed while Montoya got caught up in too many problems throughout the year. Monza was the encapsulation of 2023 at Hitech Pulse-Eight.
The driver who ended the campaign in the best form wasn’t Champion Bortoleto, nor race winners Edgar and Colapinto. In fact, it was Taylor Barnard who finished with a flourish. 2nd and 1st at Spa-Francorchamps followed by 4th and 3rd at Monza lifted the Briton to 10th in the Championship. It represents the highest finish for a Jenzer Motorsport driver since Yuki Tsunoda managed ninth in 2019, though the Briton’s points tally was higher. A solid start to his rookie campaign was followed by a rough patch between Spielberg and Budapest, but his wheel-to-wheel prowess and growing confidence in the F3 car paid dividends by the end. A supremely brave overtake at the first Lesmo on Caio Collet during the final lap showed Barnard at his fighting best.
Nikita Bedrin too looked like he’d taken a step forward but couldn’t quite replicate his teammate’s form. Two third places in the final three rounds marked his best results of the year, but inconsistencies prevented him from showing more speed and earning higher finishes across the season. Meanwhile, Alejandro García made his moment count at Spa-Francorchamps to secure fourth on a day of days for Jenzer but couldn’t match that result at the Monza finale. He too showed improvement towards the end of the year as the team found their best form in the latter third of 2023.
When things are in a good place for Caio Collet, he is usually in the top five. It proved true once again at Monza, as he capped off a tough year with P4 in the Feature Race, missing out on a fifth podium because of Barnard’s last gasp move. All but one of his points finishes were top five results but messy races elsewhere resulted in 10 point-less races, far too many for his and Van Amersfoort Racing’s liking. Battling back at the front in the Monza finale, Collet showed what he should have been capable of all year.
Rafael Villagómez capped off his 2023 with back-to-back P10 finishes, his first scoring results of the season and a reward for his and the teams perseverance this year. Able to keep himself out of the melee that had others falling by the wayside, he made the opportunities count when they arose to be in the right place at the right time.
Tommy Smith was taken out of the Sprint Race in contact at Turn 1 with Kaylen Frederick, having been part of the battle for points. The next day he was running 12th at the final restart in the Feature, yet the Australian was denied his best F3 result right at the end, sustaining a slow puncture which forced him to pit on the final lap. He too made strides in the latter half of the year and was perhaps unfortunate to not score at some stage during the 2023 campaign.
Things looked promising back in Sakhir as Grégoire Saucy looked competitive and had a point-scoring streak going until the Barcelona Feature Race. From that point, his and ART Grand Prix’s season took a major downturn, slipping down the standings in both Teams’ and Drivers’ Championships. The Swiss driver was caught up in more contact during the Feature Race, ending up on the sidelines. Nine top 10 finishes were unfortunately balanced out by nine scoreless results, leaving him 14th having looked like a potential challenger to Bortoleto early on.
Nikola Tsolov struggled in his rookie campaign while Kaylen Frederick became caught up in too many incidents that blighted his prospects of adding more points scoring results to his record. It’s the first FIA Formula 3 season in which the French outfit has failed to take a single win. Eighth is also the team’s worst campaign after four consecutive third-place finishes. Work to do before next season but expect them to bounce back.
There was no final points flourish for Sophia Floersch and PHM Racing by Charouz, but the team can be satisfied with the progress they made throughout 2023. Woohyun Shin was fighting for the final point in the Feature Race and P12 on the road was his best result before a post-race penalty demoted him down the order. In what was just his sixth F3 race, it was a commendable effort by the South Korean.
Roberto Faria couldn’t quite match his teammates around Monza, but during what was a learning year for F3’s newest outfit, there were some visible shoots of growth in the latter half of the season.
The only way is up for Rodin Carlin after the team struggled throughout 2023, but there were some brighter spots toward the end of the year. The arrival of Francesco Simonazzi brought some of the team’s best results of the year, as the Italian just missed out on points at his home event, finishing 11th in the Monza Feature Race.
Oliver Gray had moments here and there, with P14 finishes in the Melbourne and Spielberg Feature races, his best efforts of the campaign. Teammate Ido Cohen was in the points in the Silverstone Sprint Race, giving Rodin Carlin their only scoring finish across the season. The team will be hoping to put together a much more competitive showing in 2024.