2022’s extremely close championship battle: 3 takeaways from FIA F3 Round 2 at Imola

Another exciting weekend of Formula 3 action is in the books and what a weekend it was at Imola. A new track for this F3 generation, but not for many of the drivers as some had raced here in other series, but no one was prepared for the conditions. It was Franco Colapinto who used the reverse grid to his advantage to win the Sprint Race and Roman Stanek keeping cool to take the Feature. Let’s go through the takeaways from the weekend.

By Charlie Parker

All signs pointing towards a close championship

After the second round it’s ART GP driver Victor Martins and Prema’s Arthur Leclerc who are tied for the championship lead with Martins being classified as the leader thanks to his victory in the Bahrain Feature Race. 

Leclerc’s poor qualifying form may be the difference between being tied and having the lead at this point. Being stuck behind the fast drivers in the Sprint Races as seen the Monegasque only pick up six points from them, but two mighty Feature drives has put him level with Martins, who finished second in this weekend’s Sprint Race.

But they are not alone as Roman Stanek sits only three points behind, Jak Crawford sits only four points behind and Isack Hadjar who sits only five points behind the top two. Not to forget Ollie Bearman who clearly has the pace and will look to make a late season charge after he irons out the rookie mistakes. 

The F3 championship is poised to have another cracking championship.

Zak O’Sullivan is this year’s Carlin leader

Carlin’s F3 campaigns have been nothing short of disappointing. In the inaugural F3 season they came ninth. In 2020, eighth. In 2021, dead last. This year is not looking any different. But there is one light at the end of the tunnel for Carlin in the form of Zak O’ Sullivan.

The British-Irish driver has scored all of the 13 points so far for Carlin. The Williams academy driver started the season on reverse grid pole after a brilliant opening qualifying session saw him put his Carlin in 12th. And at Imola, it was no different. Another brilliant qualifying found himself in eighth. He capitalised on this in the Feature, negotiating the treacherous conditions and ended up being classified in sixth. 

Carlin are used to having one driver shine brighter than the others. In 2020, Clement Novalak scored 45 of Carlin’s 46 points, which included two podiums. In 2021, Carlin’s worst year, Jonny Edgar dragged his car to 23 of their 25 points, with two fifth place finishes as the British driver’s best result. All signs point to O’Sullivan being the leader this year.

Zane Maloney a spin away from glory

Coming into the weekend, the boy from Barbados Zane Maloney was extremely confident in his pace and his goal was to be draped in the colours of his flag on the top step at the end of the weekend. He came agonisingly close to realising this goal.

On a damp and slippery, but drying surface, Maloney grabbed the two bonus points by claiming pole position for the Feature. Fast Forward to that race and Maloney led under a Safety Car late in the contest on a slippery but drying surface. The SC came in, Maloney controlled the pace and then spun it under his own accord going around the penultimate corner, ending his race. 

It was his Trident teammate, Stanek, who claimed the victory but there will be little consolation for Maloney who had looked good in the changing conditions of Imola.

Header photo credit: Formula Motorsport Ltd

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