While the season ended well on paper for PREMA Racing, the ever-increasing standard for the reigning Champions means that Team Principal René Rosin sees 2023 as a missed opportunity.
The Italian outfit secured the Teams’ Championship for the fourth time in five Formula 3 seasons, extending their incredible record. However, the lack of Drivers’ Championship success alongside hurts according to the team’s boss, such is the level of expectation at PREMA.
Looking back at the season overall, Rosin says that while the team did well to bounce back from a tricky start, it ultimately cost the team in the long term. Zak O’Sullivan and Paul Aron could only rally to second and third respectively in the Standings while Dino Beganovic will hope to claim his maiden F3 win in 2024.
“It has been a great season. At the start, I think we were missing a bit of pace at beginning for the first few events. Dino did well in Bahrain of course, but the first couple of events were not great.
“Then we bounced back and started securing points, podiums and wins which was important for the Teams’ Championship and in the end, we secured it in Monza. We were extremely happy. Finishing P2 and P3 in the Championship with Zak and with Paul was also a great result.
“The competition is really high. Every year is even more difficult because the car is the same, it’s just a question of continuing to try and improve the little bits. In general, I'm happy about how the team has worked.
“Congrats to Gabriel for winning the Championship. He raced with us in 2020 in Formula 4, so we know how good he is, so credit to him. He did a very good first part of the season and then was always in the points and always in a good position, which helped him win the Championship.”
The early season struggles for PREMA were born from difficult Qualifying results. Sakhir represented a rough start, with Beganovic eighth, Aron ninth and O’Sullivan down in 18th.
In fact, the team claimed just one pole position all season, courtesy of O’Sullivan in Budapest before he went on to secure the fastest lap and Feature Race victory on Sunday.
For Rosin, the area to improve is clear, though he is under no illusion that should PREMA make a step forward on Fridays, it will put them clearly ahead of their rivals. The performance target in F3 is constantly moving on and PREMA will need to be back at their best in order to defend their title once more.
“I think we missed a beat in Qualifying this season. Sometimes we were a little bit unlucky, but in the end, it is how it is. We want and need to be there all the time. It’s important to score every time the maximum number of points that’s possible.
“It’s easy to look back on the Monday and engineer a winning race, but on the other hand, I think we need to re-analyse everything we've done because we could have done something a bit different that would have brought us a better result in the Drivers’ Championship. We can’t change anything now, we can just look to the future and make sure that everything is ready for 2024.”
For 2024, Beganovic will return for a second campaign with the Italian team and one he hopes will show what he’s truly capable of following his rookie season. He will be joined by Arvid Lindblad, fresh from a season in Italian F4 with the team and Gabriele Minì, who switches over from Hitech Pulse-Eight.
“Our goal is to try and bounce back to win both Championships next year. We have finalised a young lineup, which we know pretty well already. Dino will return, Gabriele has joined back up with us after a few seasons away having won Italian F4 with us in 2020 and Arvid will stay with us after a very good first season in Formula 4.”
It’s a line-up that will have the weight of expectation to deal with, though all three have proven to be race winners with PREMA already in their careers. Rosin expects nothing to change in Formula 3 with such a promising level of talent at his disposal.
“We always try to get a line-up that can help us fight for the Drivers’ and Teams’ Championships. We are always fighting for the win overall in the Championship and for next year, I want to be back winning both.
“But, of course, the level again is extremely high. The competition is extremely high, and nobody will sit still during the off-season. Everybody's trying to improve, and this is one of the strong points of Formula 3 - you can never sit down, you can never rest, you always have to look forward.”