Home Featured Red Bull’s Sztuka has “lots to learn” after “difficult” F3 debut at Bahrain

Red Bull’s Sztuka has “lots to learn” after “difficult” F3 debut at Bahrain

by Roger Gascoigne

Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

Following a difficult introduction to Formula 3, Kacper Sztuka feels he has a lot to learn in his rookie season.

The Red Bull junior was the only driver at the Bahrain season opener with no experience above Formula 4, in which he was 2023 Italian and Euro 4 champion in, and a mistake in qualifying left him starting 24th for both races.

He finished 20th in the sprint race, and 28th in the feature race after a pitstop to replace a damaged front wing. The one positive post-qualifying was he felt he already had a better understanding of how he needed to adapt his approach.

“The first two [tyre] sets were quite good. We were in the top 10 and then top 15 on two new sets. Then on the third I was just a bit more calm to make it a good lap, and it was not enough,” he told Formula Scout in the paddock.

“Next time I will go for it and push on all three sets because, I think [with] a little step from the second run, top 12 would be possible. We have to look into it and be better in Australia.

“You have to be at 101% to be on top, to manage all the runs you do, and all the laps have to be perfect. That’s very tricky and, for sure, I will have to learn many new things.”

The MP Motorsport driver acknowledged the giant leap from F4 to the “different world” of F3, highlighting the more restricted paddock environment.

“Of course on the sporting side it’s a different level as well. In Bahrain we had three testing days, so it’s not bad, but overall on the weekends we have a lot less track time.

“The car is way faster, way more power. To drive one second off is not that tricky, you can learn that, but the last half-second to the top is very tricky.”

In a 10-round campaign he has “to learn as fast I can and maximise our performance on track”, so has “lots of work in front of me”.

Having previously struggled for funding, gaining Red Bull’s backing last November has allowed Sztuka to focus more on performing on track. The Red Bull deal came together almost overnight, he explains:

“The first time I met Dr [Helmut] Marko was Zandvoort when I was there with Orlen [a mutual sponsor] to see the grand prix.

“We didn’t speak about the academy, we just met each other briefly. Then after the last race, he invited us for a meeting. There it was quite fast, we made a decision in the meeting. Red Bull wanted me, we wanted Red Bull, so that was a quick decision, a quick signing and I got their [backing] after the last race.”

Sztuka is in an all-rookie MP line-up alongside Tim Tramnitz and Alex Dunne. “We get along quite good. We had some funny stories from our time in US Racing. We are all rookies, but we can have some good moments this year.”