In 2022 Trident are moving down the feeder series ladder by adding the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine (FRECA) to their program this year. The Italians, also active in F2 and F3, took over JD Motorsport’s entry. Luca Zerbini, newly-appointed Team Manager has the task of preparing three rookie drivers for FIA F3. F1 Feeder Series had a chat with him during pre-season testing at Le Castellet.
By Perceval Wolff
After clinching their first ever FIA F3 teams’ championship last year, Trident has decided to extend their activities to a championship below F3. “The reason why we decided to enter a lower category, is to be able to prepare our drivers for the next step. It’s our main objective. We chose FRECA because it’s the most competitive series beneath F3, with professional people organising it”, Luca Zerbini explains.
Zerbini is not a newcomer to motorsport having started his managerial career back in 1996 in Formula 3000, GP2 and Formula 2’s precursor. The Italian director has notably led the Trident GP2 team between 2009 and 2014.
Competitiveness and objectives
FRECA is welcoming nearly forty drivers this season. Is he not afraid that there will be too many cars and that Trident could be a bit lost in the midfield? “You’re right for sure, it’s a risk! But to have such a competition is really exciting. It’s a very tough championship. During Barcelona testing, winning two or three tenths could win you ten or twelve positions. But that’s the game.”
One of the main issues in testing was the traffic. How did Trident cope with it? “Traffic was massive, for sure, but it didn’t bother us too much. We got the feedback we wanted for the cars. But if we talk from a driver point of view, with the learning process of a driver, this is a very good way to learn properly. Traffic exists in all categories. If you are good in FRECA, then you are good everywhere”, Zerbini explains.
If you are good in FRECA, then you are good everywhereLuca Zerbini (Trident Team Manager)
Being a rookie team in a huge field isn’t an easy position. But despite that, Zerbini is optimistic about Trident’s chances. “It is a tough category that includes a lot of experienced drivers as well as solid rookie drivers. As we said, we want to prepare our drivers for F3. But of course, everyone wants to get results, and I feel that we can compete with our three drivers for the Rookie of the Year title.”
Pre-season testing has been positive for the Italian team. “There is still some work to do, for sure, but we’re on the right path. We’re quite happy with our progression, we’re often close to the top-10 and we are having major issues. Now, it’s only a matter of small details to catch up with the guys in front like ART and others”, he says.
Rookie team, rookie drivers
Trident will have three rookie drivers in their inaugural FRECA season with ADAC F4 and Italian F4 runner-up Tim Tramnitz, multiple-GB3 race winner Roman Bilinski and Italian F4 frontrunner Leonardo Fornaroli. That could be a risky strategy and Zerbini agrees.
We’re a rookie team with three rookie drivers but Tim, Roman and Leonardo are really goodLuca Zerbini
“For sure, it is. But we saw the options we had, and at the end of the day, we went for that. And we are not at all regretting it! We’re a rookie team with three rookie drivers but Tim, Roman and Leonardo are really good. I mean, we have been working with them for a couple of months now on the simulator and we can see that they are really mature, they work in a very professional way”, Zerbini says.
“And having three drivers with a similar profile, all coming from F4, is really interesting for the whole team. They can push each other to the top: if one driver is slower in a corner and the other one is quicker, the slower one knows how to improve”, he adds.
A strong group
The Italian manager is delighted by the ability of his drivers to work together as a team. “To be honest, they are working hard at home, at the factory, at the simulators. Their attitude is perfect, we’re very happy about it. And the good thing is that they work as a group as well. Sometimes you see your teammate as your biggest enemy. But here, so far, that isn’t the case. They enjoy working together, they share experiences, and so far, I have to say everything is working properly.”
Sometimes you see your teammate as your biggest enemy. But here, so far, that isn’t the caseLuca Zerbini
“We have a very solid group of people coming from all over the world, they all share their strengths and experiences. Look at our drivers: one is German, one is Polish and English, the other one is Italian. Tim and Roman are putting in a lot of effort to learn Italian but… they are not really good at it yet, they’ve just learned the bad words (laughs).”
What about the mechanics and the engineers? Where do they come from? “Our Technical Director comes from JD Motorsport. One of our main assets is that Trident is a big family, with F2 and F3 and the simulators. We’re able to get some experience from the F2 and F3 departments as well, which works both ways. It’s a big group of people working together, and everyone is optimising the experiences when we are on the track.”
For drivers there’s the prospect of climbing the ranks within the team. “In a perfect world, we would like to have drivers do FRECA, F3 and then F2. If one of our FRECA drivers wants to step up to F3 and he is competitive; we already know each other, we know how to work together. The team knows the driver and the driver knows the team, so it would make sense.”
After joining Formula Regional, is Formula 4 next on the list? “No, not at the moment. Maybe in the future, who knows, but at the moment, we’re busy enough with what we have!”Trident will start their latest chapter in their history on the 22nd of April at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza for the opening round of FRECA.
Header photo credit: FRECA
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