It was an up and down start to 2024 for Dino Beganovic and PREMA Racing as the Swede claimed pole in Sakhir but left Round 1 with just two points to his name.

He made an impressive comeback though in Melbourne, winning the Feature Race in style and firmly asserted himself as a Championship contender this season.

Following in-season testing and ahead of back-to-back race weekends around Imola and Monte Carlo, Beganovic reflected on the opening to the campaign, what has changed from his rookie campaign and his aspirations to become the next Formula 3 Champion.

“It's been a great start of the season, I would say,” he explained. “We had the best possible start you could wish for with pole position in Bahrain, that was very special and important for us. Obviously, we didn't get away from Bahrain with the points we wanted but that was just unlucky, nothing we could have done about it.

“It was a pity after Bahrain to walk away with just two points for the pole, but I'm happy with the comeback we made in Melbourne. It's exactly the way we wanted to bounce back, and we had to respond to the situation and win the race on Sunday.

“We executed exactly how we wanted, so super happy with that, especially as we are back in the hunt to fight for the Championship. We had the speed to get those points that we missed in Bahrain, so I would say it's been a very positive start of the season.”

Beganovic is the most recent winner this season victor in the Melbourne Feature Race
Beganovic is the most recent winner this season, victor in the Melbourne Feature Race

The Scuderia Ferrari Driver Academy member experienced something of a learning year during his rookie F3 campaign in 2023.

He claimed four podium finishes on the way to finishing sixth in the Drivers’ Championship, but that maiden win didn’t arrive until Melbourne this year.

Asked whether that is down to him adapting from his experience last year, Beganovic agreed, adding that consistency and maximising every situation would play a pivotal role this season.

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“Absolutely. I’m heading into the second year in the Championship with more experience and understanding of what to do and what not to do let's say. One thing of the few things that I've learned which will definitely have a big effect in this Championship is to take the points that are on the table. Don't waste them for just one point in the Sprint Race.

“It's a way to play the Championship, let's say. Gabriel Bortoleto is a great example of that last year. He had amazing start of the season, pulled the gap and just kept the gap the same basically all season without reinventing the wheel afterwards, just being super consistent and that's how you win Championships.

“I've been in a similar situation in 2022 when I won the Regional Championship in the same way so that's one key factor. I think most of the experienced drivers that are up there will think about that this year. All the tracks are the same as last year, so it also gives us bit of an advantage or a heads up from last year.

The Swede says that PREMA accomplished plenty during in-season testing ahead of Imola
The Swede says that PREMA accomplished plenty during in-season testing ahead of Imola

“I've definitely found that, and other things will still pop up all the time. It's never going to be the case that we have nothing to work on, but the things that I had to work on from last year to this year, I've definitely fixed the some of them. Not all of them, I'm still working on some of them.

“It’s a long season and we still have the same aim as when we finished the Championship last year and that was to be contending for the Championship. It's about consistency. Consistency is a big factor in that.”

“I can't wait. They are two of my favourite tracks. We’re heading into those weekends with very high hopes”

While Beganovic didn’t top any of the in-season test sessions himself, teammate Gabriele Minì led the way on day one, and the Swede was satisfied with the work the team carried out across the three days.

In particular, he pointed to the strong baseline that PREMA have already with their car, evidenced by their strong opening to the 2024 campaign. Still, the Ferrari junior says they have found improvements that will hopefully be evident come Imola.

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“We had a couple of things that we wanted to test, and we did the whole test programme we wanted. You have these three days of testing in Barcelona, and you think that's a lot but then you go away from the testing, you want to do even more.

“But at the end of the day, we did a lot of what we wanted, which is good. We collected good data, and we know we have a strong base. We haven't been terrible, more the opposite since the beginning of the season. The setup and the feeling of the car is good, so we are always able to go back to that which I'm very happy about.

Beganovic says that the next two rounds should be good for the Italian team
Beganovic says that the next two rounds should be good for the Italian team

“This is what we built up along with my teammates at the end of last year, to have a very strong start of the year. I also think the car has improved from last year. Our race pace has been very strong from Bahrain, but also looking at the Melbourne race on Sunday, the way we managed the tyres was really good and I'm very comfortable in the car”.

Turning his attentions to what comes next, Beganovic is very keen to get back underway again, racing around two tracks that hold good memories in his single seater career.

In Imola, he has a circuit that he claimed a maiden single seater pole and race win back in 2020 while in Monte Carlo, he enjoyed victory in FRECA and had one of his strongest weekends in F3 last season with a podium finish.

“I can't wait. They are two of my favourite tracks. I have very nice and great memories around both, taking my first single seater pole position and win at Imola back in F4 in 2020 was a great memory and also winning there in Regional.

“At the same time, I have great memories from Monaco, winning there in ‘22 and finishing P2 last year with very strong pace all weekend. So, it's two tracks that I've been looking forward to for a very long time and that I really enjoy driving in a Formula 3 car.

“You feel the downforce and just pushing there in Qualifying spec is one of the best things, it's always a smile on the face. We’re heading into those weekends with very high hopes.”