Home Featured FIA Formula 3 2023 season preview: Will the racing be as close as ever?

FIA Formula 3 2023 season preview: Will the racing be as close as ever?

by Ida Wood

Photos: Formula Motorsport Ltd

Several returnees are expected to fight for the 2023 F3 title, but a few rapid rookies could upset the order


Prema comfortably claimed the teams’ title last year despite none of its drivers becoming champion, and once again it has a line-up of three highly rated talents so would be expected to successfully defend its crown.

1. Paul Aron Estonia, 19
2022: 3rd in FRegional Europe, 8th in FRegional Asia

Aron finally arrives in Formula 3 after three years in Formula Regional during which time he won eight races and claimed 11 pole positions but where title success was out of reach. The Mercedes-AMG junior was kept in the category by his Formula 1 backer as it believed it would be more beneficial for his development.

Aside from his rookie FRegional campaign, Aron has spent his whole car racing career with Prema and his older brother Ralf is its F3 team principal. Therefore he should feel well prepared for this step up, and if he is fighting at the top straight away then it may be proof Mercedes took the right approach with him.

2. Dino Beganovic Sweden, 19
2023: 11th in FRegional Middle East   2022: FREC champion, 5th in FRAC

Although he raced for Mumbai Falcons in Formula Regional Middle East last month, that team was being run on the technical side by Prema and so Beganovic has really been a one-team driver in his car racing career.

After one year in Formula 4, it took two to master FRegional where he was European champion last year, but will it only require one season in F3 for the Ferrari junior to fight for the crown? In pre-season testing he was second fastest, and on race runs he looked closely matched with his team-mates.

3. Zak O’Sullivan Britain, 18
2022: 11th in FIA F3

The only driver with F3 experience in Prema’s line-up, O’Sullivan joins the team from Carlin with whom he managed to claim a pole and two podiums last year to come 11th in the standings. Landing a seat at a frontrunning team for a second season in F3 rather than move up to Formula 2 provides the Williams junior with the opportunity to be an established driver on the European scene before he makes the next step, as before his impressive but understated F3 season he raced exclusively in Britain where was runner-up in Formula 4 and GB3 champion.


Prema took back the teams’ title from Trident, who won in 2021 and finished second behind its Italian rival last year. What is technically an all-rookie line-up makes it a big ask for Trident to win back the crown, but it’s still one of the fastest teams, if not the fastest, in F3.

4. Leonardo Fornaroli Italy, 18
2022: 8th in FREC, 17th in FRAC

Fornaroli was one of the few drivers in testing who didn’t truly show their pace potential until the final session, and he was 18th on the combined timesheet. He steps up to F3 having last stood on an overall podium in F4 back in 2021, but that’s a little misleading in assessing his readiness for F3 as he was actually FREC’s top rookie in 2022. He finished in the top five four times en route to eighth in the standings, and only four drivers scored more times than he did.

5. Gabriel Bortoleto Brazil, 18
2022: 6th in FREC, 14th in FRAC

Bortoleto was the standout Trident driver in testing, and was fastest on the final day of running. He has really come on strong in the last few months, and in the last seven races of his sophomore FREC campaign took two wins, two poles and a fastest lap. Past form suggests it will also take a bit of time to be on the pace in F3, but he could well be fighting for sprint race wins if he can get himself into the top third of the grid in qualifying.

6. Oliver Goethe Denmark, 18
2022: Euroformula champion, 19th in FIA F3

Goethe was fifth in Spanish F4 in 2020, with one win and five other podiums, then was 23rd in FREC, and last year came 25th in FRAC. So it was a big surprise that he then blew away the opposition in Euroformula with 11 wins from 26 races.

Admittedly that opposition was lacking, and he was driving for the series’ dominant team, but he had clearly made a breakthrough to execute such a jump up the competitive order. And when he turned up to FIA F3 for two rounds he proved it was no fluke as he was immediately on the pace, scored strongly and ended up finishing ahead of 11 full-time drivers in the standings.

Will he be able to build on that and be a winner once again? Or will he follow Felipe Drugovich and Marino Sato, Euroformula champions who thrived on the series’ Michelin tyres but struggled with the Pirelli in their first years on F1’s support bill.

ART Grand Prix

The home of the reigning FIA F3 champion wants to build on that success this year by moving closer to the top two in the teams’ standings. Victor Martins contributed two thirds of ART GP’s points in his title-winning campaign, and he did a good job of bringing in those points even when the car he had wasn’t one of the fastest. Therefore the team needs to not only improve, but also hope its 2023 line-up has the potential to maximise the package it gives them.

7. Kaylen Frederick USA, 20
2022: 17th in FIA F3

Frederick drove for Hitech GP last year and had an encouraging start to his rookie campaign with points in seven of the first nine races. There were no more points in the remaining nine races, and he dropped from a high of ninth down to 17th in the standings. He wasn’t the only one of the team’s drivers to head backwards in the season’s second half, so switching to ART GP should help him in avoiding that from happening again and particularly as he is now going into his third season in F3.

8. Gregoire Saucy Switzerland, 23
2022: 15th in FIA F3

Like Goethe, Saucy had a year of explosive pace that then made him an intriguing prospect going into F3. Would to return to his old form of fighting for positions in the middle of the top 10, or was he going to show his title success was no fluke?

In the case of the dominant 2021 FREC champion, the answer was the former. Saucy did finish third in his maiden F3 feature race, but he then only scored three more times. He is now going into his fourth year with ART GP, having raced for the team in the Formula Renault Eurocup, FREC and then F3 last year.

9. Nikola Tsolov Bulgaria, 16
2023: 23rd in FRME   2022: Spanish F4 champion

The most exciting and the least experienced prospect in ART GP’s line-up, Alpine junior and Fernando Alonso protege Tsolov turned up to car racing last year and was nigh on unbeatable in Spanish F4.

But he may suffer where other champions of that series have in lacking the European circuit knowledge that drivers in other F4 series acquire, and particularly so given he is skipping on doing FRegional. Tsolov’s not entirely unprepared though, as he did do one FRME round last month to race in a higher downforce car and he also did F3’s 2022 post-season test – at a track he knew from F4 – and looked particularly impressive.

MP Motorsport

After several years of bringing in top engineering talent from the F2 and F3 paddocks, MP finally reaped the rewards in 2022 by dominating F2. Its F3 form wasn’t bad, only finishing a handful of points away from third in the teams’ standings and picking up three wins including a Hungaroring double, but there were some weekends where the need for improvement was still evident. Its exciting trio of drivers could catapult the team into the territory of Prema as has already happened in F2.

10. Franco Colapinto Argentina, 19
2022: 9th in FIA F3

The Williams junior joined the series with the debuting Van Amersfoort Racing team in 2022 and wowed the paddock by taking pole at his first attempt. He was a winner by race three of the season, and took another victory later on. The combined experience of driver and team meant a title challenge wasn’t possible, and Colapinto admitted to media ahead of this weekend’s season opener that he made a lot of mistakes in the cockpit through 2022 that he is keen to eradicate. If he manages to do so, then he could be a title dark horse.

11. Mari Boya Spain, 18
2023: 5th in FRME   2022: 10th in FREC

Boya’s management engineered a move to MP in FREC halfway through last season, with a future F3 seat very much in the intent of the move. Although his FRegional results didn’t improve by changing teams, having picked up a podium earlier in the year with ART GP, the F3 dream was realised and MP also added Boya to its FRME line-up.

Driving one of the Hyderabad Blackbirds-entered cars, Boya won twice and came fifth in the standings this winter and rebuilt a lot of the confidence he had lost in 2022. He says he’s already learned “quite a lot” from his F3 team-mates.

12. Jonny Edgar Britain, 19
2022: 12th in FIA F3

Crohn’s disease heavily disrupted the first half of Edgar’s 2022 FIA F3 campaign and meant he missed several races. Although he never made the podium once he was back to full health, which made his departure from the Red Bull Junior Team a near-given, he did score with an impressive consistency to come 12th in the standings. Edgar is enthused by the fact he’s now got the chance to go into an F3 season well prepared, in full health and with a top team in a key year for his career.

Hitech GP

Hitech was the last team to confirm its line-up, with Luke Browning’s signing being confirmed just two days before the start of the season. Isack Hadjar was in a strong position to win the title for much of last session before a late wobble, and the team looked strong over a single lap and on long runs during pre-season testing so it should be a contender again.

14. Sebastian Montoya Colombia, 17
2023: 21st in FRME   2022: 7th in FRAC, 13th in FREC, 13th in IMSA LMP2, 21st in FIA F3

“My initial thoughts on the test were quite positive,” said Montoya this week. “We had a lot of issues with the car, especially in the first day-and-a-half, DRS not working, the gear shift, the engineers and mechanics spent a lot of time working very hard on the car to fix the problems. Once they were able to fix the issues I think it was a very productive test.”

It’s a positive outlook from the rookie, the only Red Bull junior in F3 this year, and he thinks the pace is there to be fighting for podiums this weekend at Bahrain. Turning speed into results didn’t happen much for Montoya in FRegional, so he’ll need to up his game.

15. Gabriele Mini Italy, 17
2023: 22nd in FRME   2022: 2nd in FREC, 4th in FRAC

New Alpine junior Mini said the focus in testing was primarily in long runs, and expects the team will feel the reward of that approach. Mini was third fastest in testing and fifth on long-run pace, and he steps up to F3 after fighting for the FREC title last year. He could appear towards the top of the standings in F3, but in a closely-packed field a few rookie mistakes (like Hadjar had) may be all that it takes to drop him several places down the points table.

16. Luke Browning Britain, 21
2023: 26th in FRME   2022: GB3 champion, 11th in F4 UAE

Despite the uncertainty and delay in confirmation of his move up to F3, GB3 champion Browning was on it straight away in testing. Like the other rookies, Bahrain is a new track to him but he will also face other new circuits in Europe having spent most of his career in the UK.

Van Amersfoort Racing

VAR was carried by Colapinto when it came to results during its first year in this championship, and it might have one leading man again in 2023 which makes it harder to judge as a whole how the team is progressing with the Dallara F3 2019 car.

17. Caio Collet Brazil, 20
2022: 8th in FIA F3

Dropped from the Alpine Academy yet remaining connected to the marque, much like old rival Martins was, Collet goes into his third year in F3 needing to fight for the title or at least show that he is using his experience to bring VAR up the order. He won two sprint races and claimed a pole position in 2022, and always looked impressive in changing conditions, but was never one of the title contenders. Avoiding being part of the ‘best of the rest’ group is key for his 2023.

18. Rafael Villagomez Mexico, 21
2023: 13th in FRME   2022: 25th in FIA F3

Villagomez has 60 starts to his name at this level and so far has five Euroformula podiums and a best finish of ninth in FIA F3. Remaining with VAR for a third year has already let to some improvements as Villagomez recently picked up a podium in FRME and he was close to Collet on race pace in F3 testing. With his experience, he has to move up the order now.

19. Tommy Smith Australia, 20
2022: 19th in GB3

The Australian graduates to F3 from GB3, where he claimed two revered-grid podiums during his time there but did not finish higher than 12th in races where the grid was set by qualifying. He has several campaigns of FRegional experience so is used to faster cars and the European tracks, but could be left languishing at this next step of the ladder.

Rodin Carlin

Photo: Carlin

Carlin has signed three drivers with a spread of experience when it comes to F3, but all of them already know the team so that should only be beneficial. After being promoted to deputy team principal last year, Stephanie Carlin will now be co-team principal.

20. Ollie Gray Britain, 18
2022: 2nd in British F4, 15th in F4 UAE

Another of Williams’ juniors, Gray raced for Carlin last year in British F4, bagging two wins and two poles to be championship runner-up. He has not raced on any of F3’s tracks before, although did do the few corners of Silverstone that are included in the National layout that F4 races on, so he’s really up against it this season. But Williams believes he has the talent to be making the jump up to the F1 support bill.

21. Hunter Yeany USA, 17
2022: 33rd in FIA F3

Yeany did a test programme with Carlin back in 2019 in a BRDC British F3 car, but started his car racing career on home turf in F4 and won the national title as a rookie. He then moved up the American single-seater ladder in 2021 before deciding Europe was more appealing and joining Charouz Racing System for two FIA F3 rounds. He had a best finish of 18th, and last year only bettered that by two places in a campaign with Campos Racing that was broken up by a hand injury.

22. Ido Cohen Israel, 21
2022: 24th in FIA F3, 21st in FRAC

Cohen raced for Carlin in Euroformula through 2019 and ’20, then moved across to FIA F3 with the team in 2021. He netted two podiums in Euroformula, but didn’t find the Pirelli tyres of F3 as easy to race on and didn’t finish in the top 10 there. For 2022 he moved teams to Jenzer Motorsport, and made the top 10 once. He will be aiming to do that more often in 2023.

Campos Racing

Campos continues to be an ambitious team willing to give chances to young talent, but results have often been in lacking in FIA F3 for the team even though it has taken standout wins in each of the last two years. Only on one occassion though in four seasons has it had two cars score in the same race.

23. Pepe Marti Spain, 17
2023: 7th in FRME   2022: 26th in FIA F3, 2nd in FRAC

Marti finished third with Campos in Spanish F4 two years ago, then stepped up to FRAC at the start of 2022 and stealthily claimed the championship runner-up spot without winning a race. That perhaps unfairly raised expectations for his FIA F3 campaign with Campos through the rest of that year as he only earned his first points in the penultimate race.

Returning to FRegional last month in the Middle East once again showed his potential as he won two races, but more importantly Marti needs to find more pace in the F3 car.

24. Christian Mansell Australia, 18
2022: 3rd in Euroformula, 38th in FIA F3

Mansell spent a year apiece with Carlin in British F4 and GB3, coming third in the latter, before progressing on to Euroformula. He picked up a podium from the two rounds he did in 2021, then with the dominant Motopark established an early title challenge last year. The boyant Australian really did rival Goethe in the first half of the season, but then bad luck, an increasing gap in pace and a hefty crash at Monza meant he ended the year third in the standings.

He also did two FIA F3 rounds with Charouz to prepare himself for a full-time move to the series, and should be capable of scoring points this year unless he becomes another Euroformula driver to succumb to the difficulties of switching to Pirellis.

25. Hugh Barter Australia, 17
2022: 2nd in French & Spanish F4

Barter has been brilliant in F4 over the past two years, finishing runner-up in the French championship twice. He graduates from that series with 12 wins to his name, and a parallel Spanish F4 programme in 2022 earned him a further six victories.

From that he’s been able to learn four of F3’s 10 tracks, and two of those are tracks not raced on below F3 so he’s better prepared than other drivers coming up from F4. It might be difficult to show his potential with Campos, but if that is the case then the year should be treated as the ultimate learning exercise.

Jenzer Motorsport

Jenzer continues to race in F3, and is now doing so in a partnership with PHM Racing. The latter has no involvement in the running of Jenzer’s cars, but has sent its drivers to race for the Swiss team rather than its own Charouz-run operation. Not since Yuki Tsunoda was in the line-up in 2019 has Jenzer looked potent in F3, but it does have a line-up with lots of potential.

26. Nikita Bedrin 17
2023: 8th in FRME   2022: 4th in ADAC & UAE F4, 11th in Italian F4

The Russian-born racer almost had his career stopped last year due to restrictions introduced against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. He was initially set to race for VAR in F4, but the deal then fell through and PHM provided him with an opportunity to stay in the category. Bedrin rewarded their gratitude by taking two wins in F4 UAE, one in ADAC F4 and coming 12th in the Italian championship. This winter he was part of PHM’s first venture into FRegional and he claimed two wins and two poles.

27. Taylor Barnard Britain, 18
2023: 2nd in FRME   2022: 2nd in ADAC F4, 8th in Italian F4, 9th in F4 UAE

Like Bedrin, Barnard has really benefited form the support of PHM over the last 12 months. The karting superstar and former Nico Rosberg protege was fast but underbudgeted on his first ventures into F4 over 2020 and ’21, then joined PHM last year and delivered in style. He took his first win in F4 UAE, claimed five more in ADAC F4 and was championship runner-up, and also starred in Italy.

To prepare for the leap up to F3 he then joined PHM in FRME and fought Andrea Kimi Antonelli for the title. That’s raised the expectations as well as the preparations for F3, particularly as he was in the top 10 in pre-season testing.

28. Alex Garcia Mexico, 19
2022: 7th in Euroformula

Garcia is another driver who has a lot to prove by racing in F3, as he has had limited success elsewhere. He scored three podiums in NACAM F4 in 2019, finished no higher than eighth across 42 races in Spanish F4 and did a season of F3-level racing last year in Euroformula but rarely troubled the top five in a depleted grid to be the lowest placed of the full-time drivers in the standings.

PHM Racing by Charouz

Charouz has struck up multiple deals during its time on the F1 support bill, including with Ferrari and Sauber’s F1 junior teams, and now it is running cars on behalf of the incoming PHM Racing team. The German squad was launched last year and raced in F4, then expanded into FRegional this winter in addition to buying Charouz’s F2 and F3 assets and entries.

29. Sophia Floersch Germany, 22
2022: 13th in European Le Mans Series, 5th in Le Mans 24 Hours LMP2 Pro-Am class

Floersch returns to single-seater racing after several years in GT and prototype sportscars, so it’s difficult to set expectations for her campaign. She is with a team that in its previous guise has regularly been towards the back of the F3 field, and she has not been doing single-seater test programmes on the side while racing with a roof over her head so there will be a lot of adaptation required. But LMP2 cars are high-downforce machines that could actually prove to be relevant preparation for F3. From her previous 41 races in F3 she scored one point.

30. Roberto Faria Brazil, 19
2022: 5th in GB3

Faria has finished fifth in each of the last two GB3 seasons, with only one win in that time, and he recently lost his Sauber Academy backing. Being in a fresh environment in terms of team and series may prove beneficial for the Brazilian, but F3 testing did not go to plan as he was slowest of all and did not manage to complete a single race simulation.

31. Piotr Wisnicki Poland, 19
2022: 35th in FREC

Wisnicki is making an ambitious move into F3 after finishing 35th in FREC last year. He is yet to finish in the top five in a single-seater race, after 36 starts in Italian F4 and 17 in FREC, but he was faster than two other drivers in F3 testing so he may be able to get involved in some midfield battles this year.