FIA Formula 3 Australia weekend roundup

Feature Image Credit: FIA F3 Instagram

Debuting down under in Melbourne, the 30-strong grid had its first taste of the now faster Albert Park circuit due to changes ahead of Formula 1’s return as Zak O’Sullivan and Gabriel Bortoleto mastered the challenging scenario.

The PREMA Racing driver was lucky to inherit the Sprint Race win, which earned him his first points of the season after a post-race inspection that stripped Franco Colapinto’s victory.

The technical infringement found on his car denied his stellar moves from sixth on the grid as Colapinto took the lead early on from pole-sitter Sebastian Montoya to take home the silverware that only became a bitter memory for him and Van Amersfoort Racing.

Fellow rookie Gabriel Bortoleto made it two Feature Race victories in a row by holding Gregoire Saucy at bay. The Trident driver led every lap from the pole position, beating the ART Grand Prix driver and Gabriel Mini, who ended third for Hitech.

Championship view:

Following his victory, Gabriel Bortoleto extends his Championship lead to 58 points. Grégoire Saucy’s second-place finish moves him up to the second place with 38 points ahead of Dino Beganovic, who dropped to third. Hitech’s Gabriel Mini now has three points advantage over Juan Maria Marti, who has bagged 25 points in fifth.

Oliver Goethe is only separated by one point from Paul Aron in seventh with 22 points and Zak O’Sullivan in eighth with 20 points after scoring in both races from Round 2. Leonardo Fornaroli sits in ninth with 19 points, as Luke Browning rounds out the top ten with 14 points.

Moreover, find out everything you need to know in the second round of the 2023 season.

Sprint Race:

The first-ever FIA Formula 3 Australian round got underway, with Sebastian Montoya leading from the reversed pole position as Oliver Goethe drifted away from second, which brought out the first yellow flag into the drama-filled session.

Montoya’s lead was short-lived as Franco Colapinto seized the right opportunity to move his position from sixth just six laps into the race. The Argentinian driver used DRS into Turn 9 to overtake Montoya, moving around the outside on entry before the race was restarted by a Safety Car.

When Colapinto chose to go ahead of the final corner and escape DRS range immediately, it was only the beginning of his flawless strategy. On Lap 18, he set the fastest lap as the gap widened to over two seconds and quickly got away with it to secure his and Van Amersfoort’s first win of the season under Safety Car.

The 30 minutes long session got more challenging for the drivers behind him. O’Sullivan and Montoya almost made intense contact to fight for P2, but the Williams Academy driver managed to make a late move, putting him ahead of the Hitech driver in third.

The rest of the PREMA Racing drivers, Paul Aron and Dino Beganovic, went wheel-to-wheel on the penultimate lap to make it inside the top five, which saw the Estonian secure his best finish so far in fourth as Gabriel Mini took the advantage to claim fifth for ahead of Beganovic.

Moreover, Trident’s Gabriel Bortoleto finished sixth as teammate Leonardo Fornaroli closely followed in seventh. Gregoire Saucy made it to eighth for ART Grand Prix ahead of Campos Racing’s Christian Mansell in ninth, as Kaylen Frederick rounded out the top ten.

However, many efforts from the race were impractical after a post-race inspection that found pieces of bodywork outside the regulatory limits that stripped Colapinto’s result, as well as Mari Boya and Jonny Edgar.

Feature Race:

Gabriel Bortoleto had the perfect race with a great launch that kept him clear from the pack to lead every lap from the pole position. Despite having two Safety Car restarts, the Brazilian driver held his nerve to secure back-to-back Feature Race victories.

Once the five lights went out, Bortoleto was in a league of his own with almost a second clear from Gregoire Saucy’s time, as Gabriel Mini put the ART Grand Prix driver under pressure to snatch his position in second. Safety Car quickly emerged when Christian Mansell and Sebastian Montoya drifted away to the escape road, declining the Hitech driver’s chance to bag second.

The chaos continued when Franco Colapinto made brief contact with Luke Browing, sending the Argentinian out of the race. Another incident happened between Mari Boya and Nikola Tsolov as the Safety Car was subsequently deployed until Lap 6, which saw Bortoleto struggling to keep Saucy at bay.

The last Safety Car emerged when Ido Cohen got involved in intense contact with Rafel Villagomez that sent the Rodin Carlin driver into the barriers.

Moreover, Saucy claimed his first podium of the season in second with just 0.5s shy of Bortoleto’s time, as Mini followed in third after late-race pressure from Leonardo Fornaroli, who has been showing his pace all weekend for Trident.

PREMA Racing’s Zak O’Sullivan came a long way to finish fifth, as Luke Browning won the battle to claim sixth from Paul Aron, who ended up in seventh, ahead of his teammate Dino Beganovic in eighth.

While these dramas happened, Juan Maria Marti was busy overtaking drivers to finish in the points-paying position for Campos Racing from the back of the grid. Lastly, Taylor Barnard took his maiden Formula 3 point for Jenzer Motorsport in tenth place.

However, slight changes were made when the stewards gave six drivers post-race penalties that stripped down their results. Browning had to drop to eighth in the final standings due to a collision with Colapinto, and Beganovic was responsible for a contact with Caio Collet that put him to 13th.

Mari Boya was at fault for a collision with Nikola Tsolov that awarded him a five-place grid drop and Roberto Faria. Kaylen Frederick also received a strict 10-place-grid penalty for driving erratically, which caused another collision with Tsolov at Turn 3.

What’s next?

The FIA Formula 3 will return to Imola for Round 3 of the 2023 season starting from 19-21 May.

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