Paul Aron 2022

Prema back on top: 4 takeaways from FRECA Round 1 at Monza

FRECA has finally started its 2022 season at the ‘temple of speed’ in Monza. While we were expecting a full weekend of rain, only one race ran in wet conditions. With just one tenth of the season completed, we can already start drawing conclusions.

By Perceval Wolff

Prema back to its winning ways

Two pole positions, two wins, three podiums, two rookies wins: we can officially say Prema is started its 2022 FRECA campaign well. The Italian squad finished 3rd last year with only three wins, miles behind R-ace GP and ART GP. In 2021, Prema was one of the fastest teams at Monza last year but their hopes of winning vanished when their drivers clashed, while battling for the lead.

This time, Prema delivered an incredible team performance. Dino Beganovic is leading the championship with a 15-point-gap to the driver in second. Paul Aron was unlucky on Saturday because of a racing incident, but bounced back to take the win on Sunday. Even though he was a bit too far back to battle for the top positions, Sebastián Montoya confirmed he is the ultimate favourite for the Rookie of the Year title with eight points collected and two rookie wins. 

However, ART GP has also shown a very strong race pace, especially with Gabriele Minì and Mari Boya and will surely have a word to say in the title battle. They are a little behind in the standings because of a couple of racing incidents, with Mini damaging his front wing behind Beganovic’s car on a Safety Car restart on Saturday.

Difficult start for R-ace GP

Although R-ace GP is second in the teams classification, the French squad should be worry about their performances this weekend. Last season, Monza was one of the team’s strongest weekends (two wins out of two and a historical triple podium). This year, after some discrete pre-season testing, R-ace improved but not enough to challenge Prema and ART. Their lead driver Hadrien David was only 4th and 7th and seemed to mainly be looking in his mirrors.

Lorenzo Fluxá scored his maiden points and his maiden podium on Saturday, and Gabriel Bortoleto finished in the points in both races. However, the Spaniard and the Brazilian didn’t respect the golden rule of motorsport: don’t crash with your teammate. While they were battling for P9 in the second race, Bortoleto pushed Fluxá wide into the gravel on the final lap. The Spaniard eventually finished outside of the points.

Gabriel Brtoleto 2022
Gabriel Bortoleto (R-ace GP) at Monza | Credit: FRECA

Capietto: the biggest surprise of the weekend

Despite being the youngest driver of the championship and racing for one of the smallest teams (Monolite), Macéo Capietto was the standout rookie driver at Monza. The former protégé of Anthoine Hubert managed to qualify in tenth position on Saturday and Sunday. Originally classified P10 in the first race, a post-race penalty dropped him to P12.

But it’s in the 2nd race of the weekend that the French driver really impressed. He fought from start to finish to get P10 and his first point, against much more experienced drivers and other rookie drivers in more established teams. With a field of 37 drivers and points only reserved for the top 10, each point is going to be precious, especially for a small team like Monolite.

The unknown impact of push-to-pass

This weekend, all eyes were also on push-to-pass. How efficient is this new system? We have seen a lot of overtaking here in Monza but last year’s races also offered a lot of moves on this track. This weekend, the main issue was that we didn’t know when drivers were using it. For example, no one knew if the drivers had push-to-pass left on the final lap of the race. 

The new system is very blurry and is not shown on timing screens or on tv. We got to see some overtaking but Monza is probably the best track to overtake. What will the situation be in Imola, a much narrower track?

Header photo credit: FRECA

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