Narrowly missing out on a top 10 finish in the Drivers’ Championship, Leonardo Fornaroli’s season didn’t quite measure up to the target he had for his rookie Formula 3 campaign. However, the Trident driver isn’t disheartened, seeing his on-track development as a source of optimism going forward.

Earning three podiums, a pole position in Silverstone and 11 point-scoring finishes, the Italian says the year has been full of unexpected surprises, but judges that his push for more ultimately backfired on occasion.

“I didn’t really have any expectations going into this year. I just wanted to finish inside the top 10 in the Championship, score as many points as possible and gain so much experience.

“Sometimes I wanted things too much this season, especially in Melbourne where I saw that I could fight for the podium. Maybe I made too many mistakes from my side because I wanted it too much. I was over-pushing or making stupid mistakes without any reason for them. So, I think I lost some points this season, but if we look at the results, I think we can be proud.”

Despite finishing eighth in the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine last season and taking the top rookie honours, the level that would be demanded of him in F3 wasn’t lost on Fornaroli.

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“It was very emotional. At the start of the season, I was nervous because although I’d raced in Formula 4 and Formula Regional, racing in Formula 3 is a big step and the level is of course very high. Overall, I’m quite happy with how the season went because at some rounds we had some unexpected results, like the pole position in Silverstone and the podiums.

“Of course, it’s been a big step. When I first jumped in the car in Jerez, I said ‘wow, that’s fast!’ I needed a couple of days to adapt myself to the car, but then day after day I was gaining confidence and we arrived in Bahrain quite ready for the season.”

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Fortunately, he was not alone in facing a learning curve at Trident, partnering up with eventual Champion Gabriel Bortoleto and Oliver Goethe. Crediting the trio’s work ethic for helping him to understand and adapt to his new machinery, the Italian rookie has taken a valuable lesson from witnessing a title campaign firsthand – the need to extract the most out of the bad days as much as the good.

“I think our line-up this season was very strong. We were working very well together, especially on the days in the simulator. We were helping each other, and it was a very nice thing because we all grew up together this season,” he noted.

“I learnt, especially from my teammate Gabriel, that you have to be very consistent during the season. If you can take P1, you take P1, but if you can’t, score as many points as possible. Don’t want too much and maybe take P6 or P7 instead and score the points.”

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Casting his mind back to his most successful round at Silverstone, Fornaroli’s debut around the British circuit stands out, both for the bittersweet loss of victory and as a mark of how far he’d come.

Covering off Goethe at lights out, he overcame an early Safety Car restart, but needing to manage his teammate behind, who was within the DRS window, caused him to degrade his rear tyres. Left without the rubber to defend the lead, he wisely opted to manage his pace.

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Keeping Goethe in sight, he fended off Josep María Martí’s advances to bring home a 1-2 finish for Trident, despite a rain shower throwing a late curveball his way.

“The weekend in Silverstone was my best weekend where I achieved the pole position. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take the win, but it was still a very good result, and I wasn’t expecting that. It was a breakthrough, especially in Qualifying, but also in the race as I made a good step there. Of course, it was difficult to be in front without the DRS so unfortunately, I lost the position to Ollie, but I think from Silverstone, I’d taken a very good step forward.”

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Even though Fornaroli’s main goal wasn’t met, there is no doubt progress has been made. Coupling a greater understanding of his car with a renewed sense of self belief, he’s hungry to make his regrets from this season worth it in the long run.

“I gained so much confidence this season. If I had to look at how I was driving in Bahrain to how I am driving now, I think I made a very good step in improving. If it was possible, I’d like to change some things from the year, but unfortunately, we can’t. So, I’m just going to learn from all my mistakes and will try not to repeat them.”