The Winter Series’ have officially concluded with the final round of the Formula Regional Asian Championship ending last Sunday. The five-round series has seen drivers of varied abilities put on a wonderful spectacle for fans. In the final round we saw, the Drivers’ and Teams’ Championships decided, an incredible second race and the last opportunity to see these drivers battle it out at the Yas Marina Circuit. For the final time for FRAC in 2022, here are five points of interest from the weekend’s action.
By Tyler Foster
Leclerc crowned FRAC champion
Coming into the final round, Arthur Leclerc had a 40-point lead in the championship. He certainly didn’t wait around to confirm his title. After securing pole position in first qualifying, he confidently led the field from lights-to-flag to become the FRAC Drivers’ Champion with two races left to go.
The Mumbai Falcons driver has been the standout driver during this Winter series; with nine podiums and four victories, he has often been head and shoulders above the rest of the competition in a championship he was considered favourite to win. His consistency is made evermore impressive due to him only scoring one pole position (in the final round).
His racecraft was unmatched throughout the championship and it is certainly what won him the drivers’ title. If not for a mistake on the first lap of the final race, which resulted in him finishing twelfth, the Monegasque would have scored points in every single race in the championship. Next up for the 21-year-old, pre-season testing for his second consecutive Formula 3 campaign with Prema in which he is a title favourite.
Mumbai Falcons become first Indian FIA champions
While having the most talented driver line-up on the grid certainly helps, Indian team Mumbai Falcons have dominated the competition to win the Teams’ Championship in what is only their second season of FIA racing. They managed eighteen podiums in all with seven race wins from a possible fifteen. Subsequently, they are the first Indian team to win an FIA Championship and have begun their task of increasing Indian motorsport interest and influence.
There was much talk about the Indian outfit coming into the series, mainly due to their partnership with Prema. With Leclerc, Dino Beganovic, Sebastian Montoya and Ollie Bearman driving for them, the Falcons were certainly favourites from the start but had a lot of questions surrounding their lack of experience.
Ultimately, they rarely disappointed and often found themselves leading the field. Their biggest achievement during the series was their 1-2-3 in Race 1 of Round 3 in Dubai. This impressive display has now set them up to lead the inaugural Formula Regional Indian Championship later this year, with the team also setting their sights on joining Formula 3 in the near future.
Pepe Martí wins Rookie Cup
One driver that has certainly raised people’s eyebrows throughout this championship is 16-year-old Spaniard Pepe Martí. Nobody would have expected Martí to be the main challenger to Arthur Leclerc at the start of the season.
The youngster came into FRAC after finishing third in the Spanish F4 Championship last year. However, he proved that his talent may be bigger than first thought after securing both second in the FRAC Drivers’ Championship as well as also winning the Rookie Cup by a sizeable margin over 2021 Spanish F4 Champion and rival Dilano van’t Hoff. In doing so, he has picked up 14 Super License points which certainly will help his future.
The Spaniard managed five podiums and was extremely consistent over the fifteen races but failed to come away with a race victory. Despite this, he will be very pleased with an impressive Winter series and now has to prepare for his rookie season in Formula 3 with Campos.
Mini wins crazy second race
If you didn’t watch the ending to Race 2, then Google it now. The most hectic, chaotic edition of the entire fifteen-race series saw a fight to the chequered flag between Gabriele Mini and Dino Beganovic, with Mini taking the victory by just a single tenth of a second.
From the start, Mini lined up in third for the reverse grid race, with Pierre-Louis Chovet and Dilano Van’t Hoff on the front row. The first lap saw multiple overtakes with Van’t Hoff moving down to sixth, while Mini and Bearman moved up to the front, behind leader Chovet. After some battling between Beganovic and Crawford, a short safety car period gave some short respite.
At the restart, Mini overtook Chovet but did so by going off-track. Before he could give the place back, Bearman and Paul Aron collided with both drivers crashing out. A second safety car followed. At the second restart, Mini finally took the lead for good, with Chovet falling down the order. Meanwhile, Beganovic had fought his way past Leclerc from seventh, up to second.
With the final minutes approaching, Beganovic closed down on Mini. On the final lap, the Swede was right on the tail of the Italian going into the final chicane but was unable to outdrag him to the line, losing out by one tenth. The top three finished within a second of each other, with Leclerc getting the final podium place.
Hadjar finishes strong
Red Bull Junior Isack Hadjar has had a solid season in FRAC, finishing third in the standings. He finished ahead of FDA driver Dino Beganovic as well as fellow Red Bull Junior Jak Crawford. To top off a strong series, he got his first pole for the final race and converted it to win his second race of the campaign.
After finishing fourth in the first race, Hadjar started on pole for the final race after qualifying nearly fourth tenths ahead of Jak Crawford. Leading away cleanly, Hadjar dealt with a safety car restart and took a lights-to-flag victory with relative ease ahead of Mini.
The French-Algerian driver picks up 12 Super License points for his achievement. He now looks ahead to his rookie campaign in Formula 3 with the same team he raced for in FRAC, Hitech GP.
Header photo credit: Formula Regional Asian Championship
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