The dawn of a new season awaits our 30 challengers, as the 2023 FIA Formula 3 campaign gets underway with a blockbuster season opener in Sakhir, Bahrain.

Pre-season testing left plenty of unanswered questions as to who will be fighting it out to be crowned our fifth Drivers’ and Teams’ Champions. With a record-breaking 10-round calendar to contend with, this weekend is just the start of their journey…

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Returning to the Bahrain International Circuit just a under fortnight after pre-season testing, the field will all have been doing their homework in preparation for Round 1. However, the three days of running haven’t revealed much about what we can expect and who could be our title contenders, as teams are keeping their cards close to their chest.

Only three drivers will start the new season in the same seats they ended the 2022 campaign in, with Josep María Martí and Rafael Villagómez sticking with Campos Racing and Van Amersfoort Racing, respectively. Meanwhile, Grégoire Saucy’s continuation with ART Grand Prix got off to a strong start, as the Swiss driver finished every session in testing inside the top three.

Reigning Teams’ Champions PREMA Racing have secured a strong stable of F1-backed juniors, with Ferrari Driver Academy’s Dino Beganovic stepping up to F3 after taking the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine title. The Swede will have Mercedes junior and FRECA title rival Paul Aron for company, alongside Williams’ Zak O’Sullivan, who made the switch from Rodin Carlin to the Italian squad.

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Several returning drivers will be looking to follow in Victor Martins’ footsteps and claim the crown, including Franco Colapinto – who joins MP Motorsport from VAR. Meanwhile, at least one rookie is featuring for every team this season, with Hitech Pulse-Eight and Jenzer Motorsport opting to run three first-year drivers.

Expectations are high for the newcomers, with ART’s Nikola Tsolov, Hitech Pulse-Eight’s Gabriele Mini, Sebastián Montoya and Luke Browning and Rodin Carlin’s Oliver Gray all anticipated to stamp their mark on things early on.

History will be made in Round 1, as F3 is set to use Advanced sustainable fuels for the first time on a race weekend. Pioneering the use of 55% sustainable fuels, the move is in partnership with Formula 1 Global Partner Aramco. This will see the Championship gradually increase the sustainable elements of the fuels over the next four seasons, before reaching 100% in 2027.

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FROM THE GRID – Franco Colapinto, MP Motorsport

“I enjoyed racing in Bahrain a lot last year, it was my first race in F3 and it went well. I got pole position in the first race, and it was an important start to the season. I think it surprised quite a lot of people, which was nice and gave us a big push for the rest of the season. 

“Bahrain is a track that I like a lot, and I had quite a bit of success here last year. I was quite quick straight away even though it was my first time jumping in the car so I’m feeling quite confident for this year. 

“Last year the track changed quite a lot from Free Practice to Qualifying, I think my pole position result was about how I was able to adapt to that change and how much quicker and grippy it was getting. The conditions played in my favour a bit, and the car was good too.

“Like I said, I like the track a lot. It has a bit of high-speed, not too much, and then slow corners with a lot of traction and good breaking zones which is great for overtaking. I think racing here is one the best weekends of the year, along with Monza. It’s also good to watch from a fan's point of view. 

“Overtaking here is amazing, it has three DRS zones and it’s important to stay in those zones and never miss out on the DRS trains. It is very difficult to pull away here, and we saw in the race last year that I pushed a lot, but Victor (Martins) was always in my DRS, so I burned the tyres too early. It’s all part of the learning process and now I have that experience for this season. “

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Utilising the same compound as pre-season testing and their trip to the Sakhir circuit last year, the drivers will have the white-walled Pirelli hard tyres to play with for Round 1.

The most durable of the compounds available, the hard compound provides the perfect learning ground for the newer drivers to develop their understanding of tyre management. Tyre degradation will be one of the main challenges the field will be wrestling with considering the track surface, rising temperatures and the desert conditions surrounding the track. Managing the balance between pushing to the limit and keeping the tyres within the window will test how much the grid have picked up during their race simulations in pre-season testing.

Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director

“The Formula 3 season begins in Bahrain with the P Zero White hard as the sole nominated tyre, just as it was for the Championship’s first visit to Sakhir one year ago. This is the actually the only F3 compound that is the same as 2022, and it’s the ideal choice to handle the circuit’s abrasive nature in a championship where races are usually run without pitstops.

"Still, with all of the F3 sessions taking place during the day and therefore with high ambient and track temperatures, the drivers will still need to take care to manage their tyres. This applies particularly to the rear tyres, which are worked hardest by the demands of the Sakhir circuit, and which since 2022 have been designed to degrade quicker to shift the balance towards understeer and make the cars more challenging to drive.”

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  • Two drivers have already claimed a win in Formula 3, Franco Colapinto and Caio Collet have both stood on the top step of the podium twice. 
  • Collet is the highest-finishing driver to return from the 2022 campaign, the MP Motorsport driver is also one of the most experienced drivers on the grid with 181 career points. 
  • Colapinto and Collet are also among the list of four podium finishers on this year’s grid, along with Zak O’Sullivan and Grégoire Saucy. The quartet have a collective 15 rostrum finishes. 
  • Three drivers have previously claimed pole in the third tier, Colapinto, Collet and O’Sullivan. 
  • The average age of the 2023 grid is 18 years old, but Campos Racing has the youngest line-up of the 10 teams, with an average age of just 17. 
  • Three drivers are tied for the most race starts in this year’s line-up. Collet, Rafael Villagómez, and Ido Cohen all have 38 starts to their names. 
  • 17 nationalities are represented on this year’s Formula 3 grid, with four new nationalities, Swedish, Colombian, Polish and Bulgarian, taking the total number of nationalities represented in the modern era of F3 to 35. 


For the second season in a row, a new team will make their Formula 3 debut – with PHM Racing by Charouz lining up for their first weekend in the third tier.

The German team has previously competed in the Italian, German and UAE Formula 4 Championships, as well competing in their Formula Regional Middle East Championship season ahead of their maiden F3 campaign.

Founder Paul H. Müller believes that joining Formula 3 and Formula 2 is the next step in PHM’s evolution “as a comprehensive development program for young driver talents” and they’ve recruited the experienced Alpine Academy member Sophia Flörsch, alongside rookies Roberto Faria and Piotr Wisnicki.