After a hugely competitive season, the Trident driver was crowned Champion during Qualifying by virtue of the points advantage he held over his closest rivals. Aiming to cap off an impressive season in style, the Brazilian was in the hunt for pole position, but it was teammate Oliver Goethe that took the top spot in dramatic circumstances.
Having opted to run in the gap, the Trident duo had the track to themselves when the German driver secured provisional pole. The majority waited in the pitlane for a final rush out on track in order to benefit from a tow, but it was a chance that never arrived.
Goethe brought out the Red Flags after an error at the second chicane, bouncing into the barriers at Turn 5 to bring a premature end to the session. It ultimately left teammate Bortoleto as Champion, with unassailable points lead despite ending the session fifth on the grid, with his closest challengers missing the necessary points for pole.
The Teams’ Championship was still on the line though, and PREMA Racing lead the battle by 25 points over Trident. The latter had all three drivers inside the top seven on the grid, while PREMA's Dino Beganovic was one of three drivers to not get a time in during the session, leaving him 23rd on the grid.
Franco Colapinto wound up 12th in Qualifying and so started the Sprint Race from reverse grid pole position. The MP Motorsport driver went side-by-side with teammate Mari Boya on the long run to Turn 1, but the Spaniard claimed the inside line and the lead of the race with it.
Further back, a lock-up by Paul Aron sent the PREMA driver on a collision course with MP’s Jonny Edgar and Campos Racing driver Josep María Martí. The Turn 1 incident brought out an early Safety Car.
Racing resumed on Lap 5 with Boya waiting until as late as possible to get back underway in order to avoid giving away a tow. He held onto the lead while Colapinto kept Grégoire Saucy and Taylor Barnard at bay.
Zak O’Sullivan was opportunistic after the Jenzer Motorsport driver attempted a pass on Saucy at Turn 4 as he slipped by to take fourth position in his #3 PREMA.
After several laps in front, Boya came under attack and lost the lead to Colapinto at Turn 1 on Lap 10. O’Sullivan shaped for a move on Saucy, but the pair made slight contact on corner exit, leaving the latter with a puncture that put him down the order. That allowed Bortoleto to slip through to rise from sixth to third in the space of two corners, having passed Barnard heading into the first turn.
Boya was back through on Colapinto for the lead two laps on, able to repeat his teammate’s move using DRS to slipstream his way alongside before outbraking the Argentine at the first corner.
Onto Lap 13 and Colapinto repaid the favour himself to retake the lead but crucially, he was able to establish a buffer of a few tenths over Boya to keep him at bay through to the chequered flag.
Having bided his time, Bortoleto made his attempt on Boya on the final lap, risking two wheels on the grass through Curva Grande to make the move stick into Turn 4. P2 marked the Brazilian’s sixth podium finish of the campaign. Boya held off a last corner attempt by Barnard to take third for a double MP podium.
A time penalty for O’Sullivan for his contact with Saucy meant PREMA scored zero points heading into the final day of the season. Meanwhile, all three Trident drivers scored to close the gap to just four points ahead of the Feature Race.
Things went awry for Trident before the lights could even go out though as polesitter Goethe pulled to the side of the track with a technical issue. It was Caio Collet who led the pack away at the start from second on the grid, with the Van Amersfoort Racing driver holding Aron at bay to keep the lead.
Boya got a great run out of the first chicane which allowed him to clear the Estonian, while a fast-starting Bortoleto also moved ahead of the PREMA to take third position. An early Safety Car was again called on after Colapinto came to a halt between Turns 5 and 6 following contact.
Back underway on Lap 4, Collet got the jump on the field to keep hold of the lead ahead of Edgar, Bortoleto, Aron and O’Sullivan.
They stayed that way until Lap 6 when Edgar made the pass for first at Turn 1 while it was three-wide behind them. A lock-up sent Bortoleto across the runoff and down to sixth before further contact left the Champion in 9th position. Meanwhile O’Sullivan was able to pass teammate Aron in all the drama before a second Safety Car was out after Saucy ran into the gravel having sustained another puncture.
Edgar aced his restart on Lap 9 to keep Collet at bay despite the VAR driver’s best efforts. Bortoleto was back up to P6 entering Lap 11, passing Nikola Tsolov at the final corner as his fightback efforts continued. An issue for Fornaroli promoted him up to P5, while the Italian dropped to ninth before the brief glitch resolved itself.
Collet was back through for the lead with 10 laps to go while Barnard was able to clear O’Sullivan to take third position in his Jenzer.
Edgar was back in the lead on Lap 13, slipstreaming back past Collet before another Safety Car appearance. Sebastián Montoya was left stuck in the gravel after contact at the second chicane put him into a spin.
Safety Car withdrawn on Lap 15, Edgar had to get late on the brakes at Turn 1 to keep Collet behind. O’Sullivan profited to move ahead of the VAR driver before Turn 4, again getting the move done in time prior to another Safety Car, this time for Martí who’d wound up in the gravel along with Ido Cohen.
The Safety Car was withdrawn in time for a final lap shootout and Edgar handled the pressure without issue. Launching ahead of the Parabolica, he left O’Sullivan to fend off Collet behind him, a task the PREMA driver was able to achieve.
In fact, it was Barnard that made the final lap move, clearing the Brazilian with a brave around-the-outside pass at the first Lesmo corner for the final podium place.
It was Edgar’s first FIA F3 victory, and with O’Sullivan and Barnard joining him, an all-British podium to round out the 2023 season. PREMA were crowned Teams’ Champions for the fourth time in five seasons, ending up 27 points ahead of Trident in the Standings.