New tracks and a lot of new drivers join Formula 3 this year, but what will that mean for the pecking order? Several of Formula Scout’s writers reckon reveal their predictions for the season…
Contributions from Alejandro Alonso (AA), Bethonie Waring (BW), Ida Wood (IW), Peter Allen (PA), Roger Gascoigne (RG).
10. Oliver Goethe Trident
Test pace 20th (101.330%) long run 14th (100.580%) 2022: Euroformula champion, 19th in FIA F3
BW (4th): Oliver Goethe is an exciting young talent coming into Formula 3 as the reigning Euroformula champion. He dominated last season, with a string of nine consecutive podium finishes and five consecutive wins. F3 isn’t going to be quite as easy for him, and getting to grips with a new car won’t be easy either. He did select rounds last year, and the experience of Trident during the preseason will definitely have helped him get used to F3. He might be one of the surprises of the season, and we shouldn’t be surprised if we see him on the top step.
IW (5th): You don’t dominate Euroformula without having an abundance of talent, and Goethe’s two rounds in FIA F3 last year showed that is transferable into a car with very different demands. Despite Euroformula being an F3-level series, it seems unlikely Goethe can be a frequent frontrunner on the Formula 1 support bill based on how other Euroformula stars have found the side-step. The difference this time around is Goethe is making the move with one of F3’s top teams, so should be better placed than his predecessors to get to grips fast and bring home results.
9. Caio Collet Van Amersfoort Racing
Test pace 14th (100.819%) long run 16th (100.623%) 2022: 8th in FIA F3
AA (7th): With already two F3 seasons under his belts, Collet will aim to impress to create himself future opportunities. The Brazilian’s experience should help VAR to add consistency to the speed shown in 2022 with Franco Colapinto behind the wheel. Even though Collet has proven to be fast since his debut in the series, a title charge is not on the cards at this stage. However, notable performances like in last year’s Hungary sprint race in mixed conditions should be the norm this season.
BW (9th): Collet has had two solid years in F3 with MP Motorsport. There has definitely been some improvements in that time, but he still seems to have a lot to learn. A few mistakes cost him dearly last year but he also showed some great talent. The switch to Van Amersfoort Racing is an interesting move. The team spent 2022 getting to grips with F3 and will also be looking to build on that experience this year. A top 10 result is possible. If Collet can get that consistency down, that could be higher.
8. Nikola Tsolov ART Grand Prix
Test pace 6th (100.605%) long run 11th (100.384%) 2023: 23rd in FRegional Middle East 2022: Spanish F4 champion
IW (3rd): It may be too much of an ask for Tsolov to win the title, but I anticipate he will be the series’ top rookie and given how close the 2022 season was at the top of the standings that could mean being in the top three in the championship. He was near-faultless in Spanish Formula 4 last year as a car racing rookie, starred in FIA F3’s 2022 post-season test and 2023 pre-season test, and has the backing of Fernando Alonso and the Alpine Academy.
RG (8th): Tsolov will make his F3 debut just over 10 months since his first start in cars, a rise so rapid that it makes Ollie Bearman look tardy in comparison. His exceptional rookie year in F4 undoubtedly marks him out as an exceptional talent, and while the strength in depth of the Spanish field is open to question, he saw off his more experienced team-mate, Hugh Barter. Victor Martins may have taken the drivers’ title for ART GP but the team’s other two drivers struggled in 2022. But if testing form is indicative of a step up, Tsolov can cause a major surprise, despite his inexperience.
7. Gregoire Saucy ART Grand Prix
Test pace 1st (100%) long run 4th (100.144%) 2022: 15th in FIA F3
IW (2nd): Saucy’s career had unassuming results until 2021 when he absolutely dominated the Formulas Regional European Championship. Starting his rookie F3 season with a feature race podium hinted that he could continue to be a top talent at the next level, but it was a false dawn and he only scored three more times in 2022. But based off pre-season testing it looks like he has made a breakthrough, just like he did in FRegional, that could make him a dark horse this year.
BW (8th): Saucy had a difficult start in F3. He earned a podium in his first race weekend but could never match that high. He will have learned a lot over the course of the season, and will likely be something of a leader at ART GP. But I expect it to be a consolidation year for Saucy, putting what he learned last year into good use, earning some strong points and adding to his podium finishes. I don’t think we can expect him to move too high up the championship standings, but I’ll hopefully be surprised.
6. Jonny Edgar MP Motorsport
Test pace 15th (100.841%) long run 18th (100.637%) 2022: 12th in FIA F3
AA (4th): MP Motorsport’s progression has been one to look closely at in the past two FIA F3 seasons. The Dutch team showed itself competitive at all rounds and with several different drivers, so the expectations are high for 2023. On his side, Edgar will be looking for redemption after his 2022 campaign was affected by health issues. The late part of last year was already a sign of what Edgar is capable of, and this has to be the season to fight for podiums and wins.
PA (7th): After the admirable job he did in his illness-hit 2022 season, it would have been nice to see Edgar get another shot this year with continued Red Bull backing and a top seat. But maybe that’s being a bit unrealistic. Signing with Infinity Sports Management is still a positive career move. Switching from Trident to MP Motorsport on the other hand feels like a slightly backwards step, based on recent seasons. You’d fancy Franco Colapinto to lead the team’s challenge for wins, but I still expect Edgar to carry on scoring consistently.
5. Paul Aron Prema
Test pace 16th (100.937%) long run 12th (100.488%) 2022: 3rd in FRegional Europe, 8th in FRegional Asia
PA (5th): On paper there isn’t much to choose between Prema’s rookies Aron and Dino Beganovic. Aron has been racing cars one year longer but is actually the younger of the two by a mere 16 days, and was arguably the faster of the two in FREC last year after some costly errors and issues early on. Having been kept back at that level for the extra year, Aron needs to make that patience pay off now and be up there from the start in F3. He should be, but Beganovic wrote the bigger headlines in testing…
IW (8th): Mercedes is taking its time with Aron, keeping him in FRegional for three years despite him showing the talent to step up to F3 at least a year earlier than he has ended up doing. Placing him at a top team in Prema puts the pressure on to achieve strong results, but equally there has been no indication that F3 will be a one-year programme for him and being one of two rookies in the team’s line-up could actually make Prema a weaker force than usual. There might be podiums and maybe wins, but no rookie title challenge.
4. Dino Beganovic Prema
Test pace 2nd (100.449%) long run 13th (100.558%) 2023: 11th in FRegional Middle East 2022: FREC champion, 5th in FRAC
BW (3rd): FREC champion Beganovic has to be one to watch this year. He comes into F3 with Prema, so should have the best preparation possible going into his first season in F3. He also has a few rounds of FRegional Middle East Championship under his belt, and performed strongly there too. It’s a new car he’ll be getting to grips with, and it will definitely be a learning curve for him, but I think he’ll handle it.
IW (7th): Beganovic has the ability to be the best in any category he races in, but tends to take longer than other top talents to reach that level of performance. Therefore I’m not setting high expectations for his rookie F3 season, although driving for Prema means he will probably be picking up top results at some point this year regardless of his own development. It will be interesting to see whether he repeats his form in other series by being faster in races than qualifying.
3. Franco Colapinto MP Motorsport
Test pace 5th (100.585%) long run 2nd (100.106%) 2022: 9th in FIA F3
AA (2nd): Having joined the Williams Driver Academy, the Argentinian has ambitious plans for the future and succeeding in F3 in 2023 is part of them. With such purpose, he has joined MP, a team he knows well from his FRegional days. His maiden F3 season was already promising with some standout drives like his two sprint race wins at Imola and Monza. Claiming the title in such a tight and competitive field won’t be easy, but he’s definitely among the favourites in this year’s fight.
BW (6th): Colapinto had an up and down 2022. There were some really strong performances, but they were the exception rather than the rule. We can expect improvements in his second year in F3, especially if he can find a little more consistency compared to last year, but I don’t expect him to jump too far up the table. As in Formula 2, there are a lot of talented drivers in F3 this year, but a top 10 finish will be a good result for him.
2. Gabriele Mini Hitech GP
Test pace 3rd (100.491%) long run 5th (100.180%) 2023: 22nd in FRME 2022: 2nd in FREC, 4th in FRAC
RG (1st): Fresh from joining Alpine’s F1 academy, Mini set an impressive pace in testing and comes into the season as one of the favourites. After two seasons together in FRegional, Mini has parted ways with ART GP and joins Hitech where he will be looking to match or improve on the strong performances of his 2021 FREC rookie rival, Isack Hadjar. Mistakes and misfortune ultimately prevented a title challenge in FREC but his speed and overtaking ability were never in doubt while his ability to qualify consistently at the front will be crucial in such a competitive field.
PA (2nd): It almost seems easier for rookies to fight for the title in FIA F3 than it is in FREC and Mini could be in a very good place to confirm that logic after two years in the latter. He was immediately on the pace in his debut test last autumn and has carried that into this year. Once again, the Italian will be in the slightly peculiar situation of battling the Prema juggernaut from the outside, but Hitech helped Hadjar win from the off as a rookie last year. With Alpine Academy backing to reinforce the existing support of All Road Management, Mini could be even stronger.
IW (9th): Mini will likely be the lead driver in Hitech’s line-up, and was towards the top on single-lap and race pace in pre-season testing, but with so many other teams also looking strong I think there could be very close battles in the top 10 of the standings and a bad result here and there – possibly through rookie mistakes – could prove costly in the points table.
1. Zak O’Sullivan Prema
Test pace 10th (100.699%) long run 17th (100.629%) 2022: 11th in FIA F3
PA (1st): In his first season in European competition last year, O’Sullivan starred in particular at his home track of Silverstone alongside compatriot Bearman, and although their career paths have differed considerably, there are some clear similarities between them too. O’Sullivan exhibits a maturity that hides the fact he’s only just turned 18, and he’s already experienced both sides of a championship battle, losing one in F4 and winning one in GB3. He may not necessarily always be the fastest driver in Prema’s line-up but that year’s experience combined with a consistent approach could make him hard to beat.
IW (1st): Highly rated by his peers, O’Sullivan did wonders with Carlin’s F3 package last year and now he’s in one of the most desired-for seats in the championship. On dint of being the only sophomore driver in Prema’s line-up, I think that will give him the edge on his team-mates, and then the title could be his based on the level of the sophomores in Prema’s likely rivals. Therefore I’m expecting O’Sullivan to become champion unless an impressive rookie can come to the fore.
RG (7th): As the third-highest placed returnee in the field and with Prema’s F3 record, Williams junior O’Sullivan comes into the season as a strong candidate for honours. A maiden F3 win early in the year is essential to build momentum. However, he will face strong competition from within the team, where both Aron and Beganovic are deeply embedded into the Prema way of working. His outstanding performances at Carlin showed he has the skills to lead a team but his inexperienced team-mates make it difficult to fully assess his results. This year will be a keener test of his undoubted potential.