Running in the gap as one of two drivers on track after the second of three Red Flag appearances, the German driver posted a 1:38.909 to go less than a tenth clear of Van Amersfoort Racing’s Caio Collet and Paul Aron in third.
It was all about the waiting game in the early phase of running, as everyone tried to avoid being the first to jump. Aron led a train of cars out on track at the green light, but the field swiftly filtered back into the pits following their installation laps.
Queues immediately formed around the track at the 23-minute mark. Situated right in the middle of a train of cars out of the Lesmo chicane, Ido Cohen was sent spinning after Rodin Carlin teammate Oliver Gray hit the rear of the #22 car, bringing out the first Red Flag. Following closely behind the pair, Bortoleto took evasive action, narrowly avoiding getting caught up in the contact.
Once running resumed, there was no time to waste. Hungry to keep his title hopes alive, Aron went fastest of all with a 1:39.043. The PREMA Racing driver’s effort didn’t stay top for long, as Collet leapfrogged him into provisional pole, but there was little to separate the top three with 0.054s covering Collet, Aron and Goethe.
The session was Red Flagged again seconds later, after a spin for Joshua Dufek left the Campos Racing driver stuck in the gravel trap at the Variante della Roggia.
When the session resumed with 15 minutes remaining, Goethe and Bortoleto were the only two cars to gamble on a run without the benefit of a slipstream. It served the #6 car well, as Goethe managed to improve on his earlier effort to go top by 0.092s.
Opting for another attempt, the Trident driver went off into the barriers at Turn 7. With a third and final Red Flag deployed, nobody got an opportunity to improve as the session was not resumed.
As Championship contenders Aron and Josep María Martí were unable to secure the two points awarded for pole, Bortoleto’s job was done to claim the title.
Jonny Edgar finished fourth for MP Motorsport, ahead of Bortoleto. Gabriele Minì claimed the sixth-fastest time ahead of Zak O’Sullivan and Leonardo Fornaroli, ensuring all three Trident cars inside the top eight. Britons Luke Browning and Taylor Barnard rounded out the top 10 qualifiers.
After snatching P12, Grégoire Saucy will have the chance to bring home his maiden F3 win when the Swiss driver lines up on reverse grid pole in an all-ART Grand Prix front row alongside teammate Nikola Tsolov. Lights go out for Saturday’s Sprint Race at 09:25 local time.
KEY QUOTE – Gabriel Bortoleto, Trident
“Finally, we can say we’re the 2023 FIA Formula 3 Champion in my rookie season. It’s very special for me, having everyone from my family here and it’s an honour for me being crowned the Champion in Monza. I’m very, very happy and I don’t know what to say anymore. Thank you to everyone supporting me this season, thank you to everyone from Brazil as well. We keep pushing!”