Prema sandbagging? 4 takeaways from the first F3 test of the year

The 2022 FIA Formula 3 season officially began this week with pre-season testing. There was no live streaming but there was live timing so let’s go through the takeaways from the three days at Sakhir.

By Charlie Parker

Are Prema not showing their hand?

Last season, Trident broke the stranglehold Prema had on F3 by claiming the teams championship with the help of Jack Doohan, Clement Novalak and David Schumacher. Prema were left to regroup for this year, but in testing, they only topped the timing sheets once. Coming in the very first morning session, Arthur Leclerc just beat out Zane Maloney for top spot, with only 0.013 separating the two and only two tenths separating the top eight.

Of course, this is just testing, so you have to take all the times with a grain of salt but we can look at any patterns that show. Trident, ART GP and Hitech GP consistently had multiple cars in the top six, whereas Prema did not.

Carlin showing mixed results in their F3 restructure

After coming dead last in the 2021 teams championship and finishing no higher than eighth in the two seasons before that, Carlin boss Trevor Carlin announced that the team would be undergoing a bit of a restructure ahead of the 2022 season. 

There were mixed results in testing. On the positive side, Zak O’Sullivan has shown why Williams signed him to their academy. The Brit found himself in eighth and ninth on day two and ninth and 11th on day three.

Enzo Trulli, on the other hand, didn’t have the luckiest of weeks. An engine fire close to the end of the very first session side-lined his car for the rest of the day and the morning session of day two. This lack of action led to results Trulli probably wasn’t looking for. 

Credit: Formula Motorsport Ltd

Rookies running the show

On each of the three days, a rookie set the fastest time overall. It was the boy from Barbados, Trident driver Zane Maloney on day one, setting a 1:47.6 in the afternoon session. On day two and three it was Red Bull Junior driver Isack Hadjar who set blistering times, both in the morning sessions.

Last year’s championship showed that it’s not an easy one for rookies, with just three rookies making the top ten (Victor Martins, Caio Collet, Arthur Leclerc), who were already experienced feeder series drivers.

We are in for a great season

Whether you believe testing times have any representation on the season or not, there’s no doubt that we are in for a great season. The grid is stacked, from rookies like ADAC F4 and Italian F4 champion Ollie Bearman trying to make a name for himself at Prema, to second year drivers like Arthur Leclerc trying to follow in his brother’s footsteps and win a junior single seater championship. And many others at Trident, ART, Hitech and MP Motorsport, vying for top spot.

Find out in two weeks, when lights go out at Bahrain on F1’s opening weekend.

Header photo credit: Formula Motorsport Ltd

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