Pepe Marti must outscore Gabriel Bortoleto by three points to take the FIA Formula 3 title fight to Monza, but he thinks much more is needed to be in contention.
The Campos Racing driver moved into second in the standings by taking pole at Spa-Francorchamps, and he sits 42 points behind Trident’s Bortoleto ahead of this weekend’s two races.
Bortoleto will be crowned champion if he is 40 points clear after Sunday, but he provisionally starts both races from 15th while Marti will be 12th on the sprint race’s reversed grid and starting from the front for the feature race.
“I’m focusing on myself. That’s the main thing for now. There’s a lot of things that can change from day to day, and anything can happen during a race weekend,” Marti said when asked what the results of qualifying meant for his title hopes.
“I may win on Sunday and Gabriel may not take points, or it could be the other way around. You know, he has a great race and scores more points than I would. So you never know.”
While “it’s nice” that pole returned him to second in the standings, a position he lost in the most recent race at the Hungaroring, Marti thinks the races “is where things will actually open up” in the title fight.
“It would be nice to get to Monza in contention, in real contention. To be completely honest, if P2 is 20, 20-something points behind Gabriel, then I think It’s pretty much uncatchable. But if it’s 10, 15 points, we’re talking a really different game.”
For the sprint race “I’d like to say full send” is the approach, as Saturday is “s a day to go forward” in, but with taking any risks the championship implications cannot be ignored.
“As much as I like to say it’s not on my mind or anything, the championship charge is on my mind. And obviously I’d like to take it close to Monza. So it’s something that’s on my mind and I’d like to be able to pull [off] two good races.”
Tyre durability is a big topic of concern going into the races, but Marti believes tyre management is a strength of his “so I feel like both tomorrow and Sunday are days to score good points” even though he starts from outside the top 10 for the sprint race.
“I’m looking forward to the races. I’m thrilled to be racing here again. I mean I love the track, and [even] more in a weekend like this. For me the emotional toll is really, really high. And if I can then deliver a good weekend for the van’t Hoff family, then I’ll be very, very happy.”
Dilano van’t Hoff, who fought for wins against Marti in Formula 4 in 2021, was killed in a crash at Spa earlier this month in a Formula Regional European Championship race held in low visibility conditions. Since then the safety of the track, and the conditions that series race in there, has been heavily scrutinised.