Bortoleto storms to maiden F3 pole in Australia: ‘An amazing session, an amazing track’

In a qualifying session full of plot twists and red flags, it was championship leader Gabriel Bortoleto who put his Trident on pole with a phenomenal effort right at the end of qualifying. After a red flag in the dying stages of the session, the Brazilian managed to put in a near-perfect lap and snatched the top spot away from ART’s Grégoire Saucy and Hitech’s Gabriele Minì, who qualified in second and third respectively. Feeder Series spoke to the polesitter soon after his triumph Down Under.

By Daniele Spadi

Gabriel Bortoleto had a very positive Friday right from the get go, as he got a lot of running in free practice and was the fifth fastest driver earlier in the day. Once qualifying rolled around, the Brazilian was among the quickest drivers throughout the session, showing great car control and top-tier adaptation skills. And he had to be on top of his game, too – qualifying was stopped twice, as the red flag became a major component of the session.

“It was an amazing session for me. I would say that was one of the most difficult qualis I have done – [with] two red flags, we always need to do the lap at the last moment as possible as we saw,” said Bortoleto after taking his first ever FIA F3 position ahead of Sunday’s Feature Race.

A tough session

It’s always difficult to stay concentrated during a thirty-minute qualifying session – and with red flags interrupting the drivers’ flow, the young talents that make up for Formula 3 grid were put to the test.

“When you’re in the car, you’re concentrated on stuff and then suddenly the session stops, you need to wait and you don’t have [much] information about how long it’s going to take to come back [out on track],” Bortoleto said.

I did my part on track and we showed the real potential of Trident

Bortoleto on his performance in qualifying in Australia

“You don’t know if your tyres are in the right temperature or not, so I think it’s all about trusting the team as well, that they would do a good job on tyre pressures and everything. They did a good job, I did my part on track and we showed the real potential of Trident.”

Following a red flag caused by ART’s Kaylen Frederick hitting the wall out of the final corner, chaos spread through the pitlane as drivers were more than keen to go out on track with less than five minutes to go.

Drivers with trophies on podium in Bahrain
Bortoleto was a race winner in Round 1 of the championship at Bahrain and will be hoping to replicate this at Albert Park | Credit: Prema Racing

However, Trident tried a different approach after the second red flag. The Italian outfit waited to send its drivers out in order to minimize traffic and set their final lap times in the best possible conditions.

“Giacomo [Ricci, Trident’s F3 Team Manager] is the one in charge of doing the traffic management for the team, and honestly he’s very very good at doing that. I managed to put the temperature in the tyres and make my lap at the last moment,” Bortoleto told Feeder Series.

Bahrain’s Feature Race winner was a man on a mission, finding the right space out on track and achieving the fastest lap of qualifying right at the end of the session. “I managed to do my best in the last lap, I improved [by] like six tenths from my second best lap.”

An amazing track

The championship leader had nothing but positive things to say about the Albert Park Circuit on his first trip to Australia.

“It’s an amazing track, It’s one of the nicest I’ve been [to]. It’s a mix of a street circuit and a ‘normal’ circuit – [it’s] very challenging because there [are] some high-speed corners and the wall is very close.

I was lucky to join F3 this season and have this one in the calendar

Bortoleto on the addition of Albert Park to the F3 calendar

“You need to find the limit but not go over them, because then you finish in the wall… I was lucky to join F3 this season and have this one in the calendar.”

The fast chicane of Turns 9 and 10 appeared to be the most difficult part of the circuit for drivers to adapt to, as many found themselves in the gravel trap, some not getting away with it.

MP’s Jonny Edgar crashed out of free practice, before Bahrain’s Sprint Race winner Pepe Martí hit the wall in the opening stages of qualifying and brought out the first of three red flags.

Trident car on track in Bahrain
Bortoleto aims to fight for the championship this season after success in the opening rounds of the season | Credit: Sebastiaan Rozendaal / Dutch Photo Agency

“I think it’s one of the most difficult [corners], I would say,” Bortoleto said. “Even if you [hit] a bit of gravel on the outside, you are so quick that you can’t stop the car… you will for sure go in the wall, unless you can manage to keep the car straight in the gravel.”

Though Bortoleto felt that the track was very nice to drive on, qualifying was far from easy. Traffic was quite tough to navigate throughout the whole session – and understandably so, with 30 cars on such a fast, flowing track.

Bortoleto was one of the many drivers who struggled to complete one of his lap times without other cars getting in the way. “On the first lap of my second set of new tyres, I was coming [to the line] for a very very quick lap and then I got traffic… knowing this, I knew that I needed to do the lap at the last moment.”

Eyes on the prize

Bortoleto’s job is far from done, with two tough days of racing ahead of him. On Saturday, the Brazilian will start from the sixth row in the Sprint Race alongside today’s second-place finisher Grégoire Saucy.

A calm, calculated drive could help the man from Trident climb up the standings, but he isn’t too worried. “I don’t have so much of a plan, I think. It’s more about trying to [get] to the front and avoid any crash – I think this is the main point… just trying to finish the race and score some points.”

Saturday could prove challenging for the Trident man, but he will start from pole position in Sunday’s ever so important Feature Race. With the two additional points he gained from his qualifying efforts, the championship leader is definitely putting his name out there as the main title contender.

I think we can for sure fight for the title

Bortoleto on his goals for his debut F3 season

“I hope so, that’s my target from the beginning of the season,” said a confident Bortoleto when asked if the drivers’ championship is the ultimate goal this season. “I think every session that we’re doing, we’re showing that we can be in the top three or top five, I think we can for sure fight for the title.”

Header image credit: Formula Motorsport Limited

Donate like Mahaveer Raghunathan

We run on donations, so thank you for your contribution!


Donate like Arthur Leclerc

We run on donations, so thank you for your contribution!


Donate like Dennis Hauger

We run on donations, so thank you for your contribution!


Donate like Théo Pourchaire

We run on donations, so thank you for your contribution!


Donate like Andrea Kimi Antonelli

We run on donations, so thank you for your contribution!


Wish to donate a different amount? You can donate any amount directly to our PayPal page here.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s