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Mini glad he got on Melbourne podium after weekend of tyre graining

by Ida Wood

Photo: Prema

Gabriele Mini rose from seventh to third in the FIA Formula 3 Championship in Melbourne, leaving with a podium after two races where he found tyre graining was an issue.

The Prema driver set the pace in practice, contended for pole in qualifying but lost out to Trident’s Leonardo Fornaroli by 0.019 seconds, and then he rose from 11th to sixth in the reversed-grid sprint race.

He was unable to convert his front row starting spot into second place in the feature race, as he slipped to third.

“It was a good [sprint] race, we had a good start gaining straight away one position. The pace was also good gaining a few positions, making a few overtakes by also making the most of the others’ mistakes,” Mini said.

“In the end we got to a point where both the car in front of me and the one behind were far away, then we got the safety car that helped us quite a lot with the tyre graining and cooled down the tyres. In the last two laps it was a final showdown, I tried to go for an overtake, but sadly I got pushed a bit wide and dirtied my tyres and couldn’t keep the car on the line for the last corner losing a position. Overall though I think it was quite a positive race.”

Following the feature race, he was frank about how the tyre graining proved an issue in a race which ran under green flag conditions from lap six to the finish on lap 23.

“At some point, I thought we were not going to be able to finish in the top five. How we came back is quite positive, but it’s a bit of a shame that we got the graining early on, which cost me five or six seconds compared to the others who got it later.

“Once we cleaned the graining we were really quick and in the first phase, I was under the limit and still keeping up with P1. As said, a bit of a shame, but still good points for the championship. We’ll try to fight back next time.”

He added that as he was “starting P2 with a tyre advantage compared to Leo we were expecting to be able to fight for a win”, yet had to resort to “driving slower than I could” from the off to save his tyres and still felt them “degrading quite early on”. While he claimed the total time loss because of it was only six seconds, that came from “losing two or three seconds per lap”.

Mini’s results, combined with Dino Beganovic winning the feature race and Arvid Lindblad finishing second in the sprint race, meant Prema rose from third to first in the teams’ standings with a haul of 55 points from the weekend.