It’s always challenging to pinpoint the favourites for the drivers’ and teams’ titles in the highly competitive FIA Formula 3 Championship. However, MP Motorsport definitely strikes the paddock as one of the teams to look out for in the 2023 season. The Dutch team is set to compete with a completely revamped driver line-up, with Franco Colapinto, Jonny Edgar and Mari Boya behind the wheel of their cars. Feeder Series got a chance to speak to all three of them right before the season opener in Bahrain.
By Daniele Spadi
After an extremely competitive Formula 3 season in 2022, many teams appear capable of challenging Prema, the dominant force in F3 since its rebranding in 2019, in both championships this season. Outfits such as Trident and ART have already demonstrated it, being the only two teams other than Prema to win either championship in the series’ short history. But is it time for a new challenger to emerge?
Having expanded their participation to many different categories in recent years, MP is quickly becoming a staple of the feeder series ladder. The team based in Westmaas is the most decorated outfit in Spanish F4’s history as well as a top three finisher in the teams’ standings in both Formula Regional Middle East (FRMEC) and F4 UAE earlier this year. However, the highlight of their feeder series career is their historic 2022 F2 campaign, in which they managed to capture both championships thanks to the immense talent of Aston Martin development driver Felipe Drugovich and some clutch performances by France’s Clément Novalak.
Franco Colapinto: The Argentine hotshot
In addition to their extraordinary 2022 Formula 2 season, MP have grown exponentially in their time in F3, and they are now known as a team capable of fighting for podiums and wins on a consistent basis. However, when the Dutch outfit announced that Colapinto would drive for them in the 2023 season, people started looking at them as serious title contenders.
The 19-year-old had a great rookie season with newcomers Van Amersfoort Racing last year, claiming two wins and stepping on the podium on three other occasions. As he enters his most important year in single-seaters yet, he’s ready to take the fight to the top.
“I’m really looking forward to the start of the season. We’ve done a lot of work with the team and I’m really enjoying my time here in MP, it’s a great team and a great family. We’ve done some really positive work from last year,” he told Feeder Series at a media session.
Colapinto is also the latest addition to the Williams Driver Academy. It’s a big step to join one of the fastest-growing junior teams in the feeder series world, as he becomes the third driver on this year’s F3 grid to be officially linked with the British team after Zak O’Sullivan and Ollie Gray.
“It’s amazing to be with such a historic team with so many great people,” Colapinto said about entering the Williams fold. “It’s a great opportunity and I’m super grateful. To be with Williams adds an extra bit of confidence. I’m enjoying every second of it and I’m trying to extract everything I can from them.”
“It’s my second year in F3, which always adds a little bit more expectations on you. I’m just really looking forward to enjoying the season, to focus on the mistakes that I’ve made last year and to not make them again,” Colapinto said of his preparation for this year’s challenge. “We were able to test a lot. We did a lot of laps and it’s always really useful to have three days to get used to the team, to work with the engineers and the mechanics. It was a very positive preparation,” he added.
But is the title a realistic objective for the Argentine? “To fight for the championship is always one of the expectations. It’s been like that ever since I started racing, but I never really think about that. Of course, it would be great if we fight for the championship, but my goal is to go race by race and step by step. The team is doing a great job and the car feels good,” Colapinto said.
“We’re going to do our stuff and focus on ourselves. It’s a super long season, and I think consistency is the main key.”
Jonny Edgar: The British veteran
At the start of the 2022 season, Edgar was heavily rumoured to be one of the championship hopefuls. However, complications from Crohn’s disease forced him to miss two rounds and left him struggling for physical strength in several other rounds, compromising his fight for the title.
“I’m happy to be doing F3 again, to do a full season and put together everything I’ve learned in the last two years. My fitness is back to 100% now after last year, so that’s good.”
Edgar is no stranger to working with MP, as he previously tested with the team at both of the 2020 F3 post-season tests.
“I already knew some of the people when I came back to driving with them again. I really like the team. Everyone’s really nice and we’re working well together so far – all the engineers, mechanics and also with Mari and Franco,” he told Feeder Series.
Though 2023 will be his third – and likely final – season in the series, Edgar will still face new challenges, as this is his first year in single-seaters without being part of the Red Bull Junior Team.
“I already knew about [not being a Red Bull junior driver] in Zandvoort last year. Another year of F3 was still the plan anyways, whether it was with Red Bull or not, because having a good year of F3 is always useful – also for experience, with it being such a high-level championship.”
Mari Boya: The Spanish rookie
The last seat at the Dutch team is taken by Spain’s Boya. Born in 2004, Boya is set to make his Formula 3 debut this season after two years spent in the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine (FRECA). MP is almost a second home for him, as this will be his third year driving for the Dutch outfit after a successful 2020 Spanish F4 campaign and a difficult partial season with them in FRECA in 2022.
However, Boya showed some convincing pace during the 2023 FRMEC season earlier this year, taking two wins and finishing fifth in the drivers’ standings.
“I did this championship because MP wanted me to go there, and I especially needed confidence after a proper bad year for me in my career – maybe the worst one,” Boya told Feeder Series about FRMEC. “[It was] really hard to understand what happened. At least for me, it helped me a lot to start the season ready and with full confidence.”
As a rookie, Boya does not have specific goals for the season besides continuing to learn. “I’m really pleased to have two experienced teammates because I’m a rookie and everything is really new. In the winter, we have already been working with them, and I think I have learned quite a lot from them. Now we just need to put on track everything we have learned with the team during testing.”
Formula 3’s first round kicks off today, 3 March, with free practice at 10:55 local time (7:55 GMT).
Header photo credit: Williams Racing, MP Motorsport, FRMEC; Collage by Feeder Series
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