After making an outstanding debut in FIA Formula 3 by winning the season-opening feature race in Bahrain, Gabriel Bortoleto further impressed in Albert Park. The Brazilian ace took his first pole position before clinching yet another feature race victory to consolidate his lead in the drivers’ championship. Before the round in Melbourne got underway, Bortoleto spoke on the Feeder Series Podcast about moving to Trident and becoming a Formula 3 race winner.
By Torin Budd
With two feature race victories to his name, Bortoleto has cemented his lead in the 2023 Formula 3 Championship. The driver overseen by A14 Management is on 58 points from the opening two rounds, 20 clear of his nearest rival, Grégoire Saucy, and 30 clear of third-placed Dino Beganovic.
The Brazilian driver returned to the Feeder Series Podcast for the first time since Episode 3 in February 2022. Speaking before he took his second feature race victory in Albert Park, he reflected on his step up to a new championship with Trident and on his stunning season opener in Sakhir.
Delight on debut
After starting the weekend well by qualifying second, Bortoleto made his mark on the championship with a feature race win – showing great promise and potential in the process.
“As I said, Bahrain was a crazy weekend,” Bortoleto said. “I think the expectations for me before the Bahrain GP, I didn’t know what to think or what to expect from the race weekend. The only thing that was in mind is that I want to score as many points as I can.
“Looking at the previous years, it’s important to score as many points as you can because one or two points can make a difference at the end of the year.”
Consistency and weighing up risk against reward were pivotal in Bortoleto’s eventual success in his debut weekend.
“I knew that [Gabriele] Minì had a penalty as well, so on the safety car restart I did quite well I think for the first straight, and then on the second one, [Minì] managed to do the switchback on me in T4 and I didn’t even try to keep the position after I saw he was in my sight.
“I knew he had the penalty so I just said I need to be inside the DRS zone for the whole race and I will win.
“I had some opportunities during the race to make a move on him, but I didn’t want to risk it because when a guy has a penalty, you never know what he’s going to do. I managed to the fastest lap and get the 25 points for the win, so all is good!”
Trials at Trident
Moving to a new team is always considered a challenging task to drivers – doubly so for Bortoleto, who joined a new team while stepping up to an entirely new series.
Bortoleto was the first driver confirmed for the 2023 F3 grid. Trident made the announcement on 26 September, swiftly after the Brazilian had completed the Formula 3 post-season test with flying colours.
“Everything started when I won … Spa in FRECA. Basically, some of the seats were already signed, and we were deciding where to go, and there were two seats in Trident.
“They were interested in me and I was very interested in them because I know that the team is capable of doing well. The first half the season was good, but the last half of the season, where Maloney won the last three feature races, it was crazy!
“I follow my instincts, and something was telling me, ‘Go for it, go for it’, even because it’s an Italian team, and now I live in Milan I can go there every day if I want.
“We did the post-season test, we were basically already signed, but after this we decided, ‘Let’s go for it!'”
I follow my instincts, and something was telling me, ‘Go for it, go for it’Gabriel Bortoleto on signing his 2023 deal with Trident early
Bortoleto’s form from Bahrain continued into Australia, where he stormed to his first F3 pole position and followed it up by winning the feature race to make it two out of two feature race wins so far this season. The Brazilian star has quite the springboard to continue his great form when Formula 3 returns in Imola from 19–21 May.
Header photo credit: Sebastian Rozendaal / Dutch Photo Agency
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