Paul Aron’s first F3 season has been consistent, which the Prema driver says is a key to succeed in the series
The Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 junior continues to get acquainted with the Dallara F3 2019 after spending three seasons behind the wheel of the Tatuus T-318, first in the Formula Renault Eurocup with ART Grand Prix in 2020 and then in the Formula Regional European Championship, where he finished third both in 2021 and 2022 driving for Prema. Now, he sits in fifth in the FIA Formula 3 standings four rounds into the 2023 season.
Aron took the chequered flag in all eight races completed until now and only failed to score points in Bahrain’s feature race. He actually finished that race 10th on-the-road, but a five-second time post-race penalty for contact with team-mate Zak O’Sullivan demoted him to 12th.
Formula Scout spoke with the Estonian in the paddock during F3’s latest round at Barcelona to know his thoughts about the season’s early phases, what is to come and what has changed regarding the support he receives from Mercedes.
“I think it’s been quite a good start to the season,” Aron reckoned. “I’ve tried to be very consistent because we’ve seen that in this championship consistency is the key to fight for the wins and in the end for the championship. So, yeah, I’ve just tried to stay consistent and bring home points.
“Both me and the team have been improving round after round. We’ve been getting more confidence with the car, with the set-up and, and the pace has been improving. In the end, that’s the goal, keep improving the confidence and like that, we are able to go step-by-step closer to the front.
Aron’s best qualifying result was in Monaco, as second position in his group put him third on the grid for Sunday’s feature race. But in the races, he is still to finish higher than third, a result achieved in Australia’s sprint and Monaco’s feature race.
The FIA F3 season so far
1st: G Bortoleto, P Marti, G Mini, Z O’Sullivan
2nd: D Beganovic, F Colapinto, G Saucy, L Browning, L Fornaroli, O Goethe, S Montoya
3rd: P Aron, C Collet
3: Marti, Beganovic
2: Bortoleto, Saucy, Mini, Aron, O’Sullivan, Fornaroli, Colapinto
1: Collet, Goethe, Montoya
5: Bortoleto, Beganovic, Aron
3: Saucy, Mini, O’Sullivan, Browning, Fornaroli, Marti, Colapinto
1: Collet, Goethe
68 Marti 61 Beganovic
56 Mini 54 Aron
48 Colapinto 47 Saucy 41 O’Sullivan
38 Browning 36 Fornaroli
The Prema driver is confident that the hard work he and the team have been doing will pay off, and he is hopeful that he will soon be able to stand on top of the podium like O’Sullivan already has twice. Such a result would help close his 38-point deficit to championship leader Gabriel Bortoleto, which is one point less than the maximum possible score in a race weekend.
For that to happen, Aron stressed the importance of constant improvement of performance, as he and Prema continue to dig to find the perfect harmony between driver and car that will eventually allow them to extract the last tenths.
“I think it’s more about the driver and the car finding a good balance within themselves, let’s say. So we’ve been changing the car a bit to help us drivers more. And we as drivers have been trying to adapt our driving more to the car. So generally, if you’re working in a championship with a new car, you are going to be improving throughout the year as you get to know the car more and you are able to set up the car more to your liking.
“Prema has been doing a good job already this year and I’m very happy with the progress we’ve been making throughout the year. So we are already in a pretty happy place and now it’s just about small details to make that last step and fight for the wins.”
Prema currently leads the teams standings by five points, having amassed two sprint race wins through O’Sullivan, five other podiums through Aron and Dino Beganovic and a total of 156 points. Only one race has the team not been in the top five.
“It’s hard to say because obviously, if we would know the answer, we would already be dominating the championship,” Aron replied when questioned about where Prema is missing out compared to the like Trident and Hitech GP, who have proved to have the upper hand in terms of raw speed this season.
“Every year is different, tyre compounds have changed this year. Obviously, track conditions are different every year. So I think it’s hard to say.
“Generally, I don’t think we are far, but in this championship, you get very little track time so if you do have that little bit of extra confidence with the car, you are able to extract a bit more out of qualifying, a bit more out of the races. And with the gap so close, that makes a huge difference,” he explained.
“So it’s hard for me to answer that question and give you a straight answer, let’s say, but every, every year is very different and dominance doesn’t come out of nowhere. Dominance comes through hard work. And we have been working very hard this year and hopefully we are able to do more steps throughout the year and dominate by the end of the season.”
Aron also highlighted the importance of Mercedes assistance in his development as a driver, especially with the move up to F3.
“It’s my fifth year now in the programme and I’m very thankful for all the support they have given me and all the opportunities,” Aron, who became a Mercedes junior halfway through 2019, said.
“I’d say sure the programme has changed a little bit and especially for us as drivers. I think Mercedes is a programme who wants to let the drivers develop at a young age. And then once you start to get closer to the Formula 1 level, they step in a bit more and give you the help and develop you with those last little details and last little bits that it is very hard for a person like me or any other driver to do themselves.
“So definitely coming into this F3 season, I felt that the support has engaged more and they’ve been very, very helpful and the work between me and them has improved massively this year. So I’m super happy about that and very thankful for the support they are giving me. And hopefully we can keep going like this.
As one of its F1 juniors, Aron has had the chance to drive Mercedes’s F1 simulator, but recognised his involvement within the England-based team is limited.
“I have had the opportunity to go into the simulator and Mercedes has one of the best simulators in the world. It’s been very helpful for me as a driver to drive a simulator like that and work with the engineers that normally work in F1. So it has definitely helped me develop, but generally my focus is on F3 and I’ve been on the simulator only twice just to get the first wheel and that’s about it.
“But like I said, I’m very thankful for the two opportunities I did have to go in the sim and it’s been very helpful for me as a driver to work with engineers at the formula one level and understand a bit more how everything works in that world.”