The exacting standards that Team Principal René Rosin sets for PREMA Racing means that anything less than a Championship is underperformance. The Italian team has proven itself more than capable on this stage multiple times over with anyone in the car, and in 2023 it has a stellar line-up and then some.
F1 driver academies are well represented with Dino Beganovic (Ferrari Driver Academy), Zak O’Sullivan (Williams Racing Driver Academy) and Paul Aron (Mercedes Junior Team) comprising its 2023 roster. So after the three days of pre-season testing in Sakhir in the books, just how confident is the Italian outfit?
PREMA enter the new season as reigning Champions, a familiar position for the Italian team having won three of the four FIA F3 seasons going back to 2019. Defending the title is the goal then and, on first showing, the team is on its usual pace following a highly productive time in testing.
The team was always within the top five at the end of every session across the test, a positive sign but, as is the case with every test, far from conclusive. More telling perhaps is the mood in the PREMA camp following the conclusion of pre-season.
All three drivers looked very happy after stepping out of the car on the final day, with each driver achieving plenty of mileage across the test. Everything was business as usual according to O’Sullivan, who says despite not topping a session all week, PREMA is very comfortable with how it did.
“Bahrain went pretty well. Everything went to plan, which is always pretty key. Of course, it's always quite hard to tell the truth base of everyone, as it's just testing, but I think as a team, we run through our programmes We got everything we needed to do and I feel like we're in quite a good position for Round 1 next week.”
Likewise, further up the food chain, things were rosy for Rosin. The team got through its run plans unhindered on each day, gaining vital data and experience ahead of the opening weekend of 2023. Rosin says that the team will be targeting wins as per usual when the lights go out in Sakhir.
“The test has been pretty good, three positive sessions for Formula 3. We’ve achieved our plan. Of course I think it could be challenging the first weekend in Bahrain, but it is like this in the first race. We start with one of the most difficult circuits overall.
“All the three drivers have done a proper job. The two rookies have shown that they’ve adapted very quickly to the car and they were doing some good performances. With Zak, I think he will be at the front, ready to fight for the top results. So, from our point of view, everything has been done in a proper way, we've done our plan. Now, we're looking really forward to the first round next weekend.”
Last season, O’Sullivan claimed a surprise pole on home soil for the Silverstone round. A stunning drive in a wet-to-dry Budapest Feature Race was rewarded with 4th position after an inspired decision to change tyres mid-race to slicks. Self-assuredness will surely count for a lot this year at the always competitive PREMA team.
Beganovic arrives fresh from winning the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine in 2022 and cut a very relaxed figure in the paddock across the three-day test. Aron finished third to Beganovic in ’22, and likewise was very upbeat in Bahrain.
A combined 506 laps on the board between each driver was a strong tally to carry into the new campaign. There is little doubt that the trio enter the new season amongst the favourites for the title, even with Aron and Beganovic arriving as rookies. O’Sullivan’s experience from 2022 and switch to the Italian outfit bodes well for his chances, and the team is geared up to fight for its fourth Teams’ Championship from five years of FIA F3.