A man in a red shirt, three young men in white shirts, and a young man in a blue shirt hold trophies with a car outline at the top, the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine logo on the base, and the outlines of all circuits on the calendar on the left edge

FRECA showdown: 4 takeaways from the final round at Mugello

Six months after the start of its 2022 season at Monza, this year’s FRECA campaign came to an end last Sunday. F1 Feeder Series brings you the four biggest takeaways from the final round at Mugello.

By Perceval Wolff

Dino Beganovic and Prema on top

18-year-old Swedish-Bosnian driver, Dino Beganovic, was simply the best driver of the whole season. In Mugello, he may not have been the fastest, but by finishing fourth and third respectively in the two race, his consistency meant he came away from Tuscany scoring more points that his title challengers who had a win each to their names. ‘Dynamite Dino’ has done everything right this year to clinch this title in front of a field more stacked than ever.

Many drivers and team managers are in firm agreement that this season is much more competitive than the previous one. With Prema finally back on top after a year of adaptation to FRECA (which was closer to Formula Renault than to FREC), many returning drivers that could have gone to FIA F3 this year, and a pool of talented rookies, Beganovic had an incredible season with 13 podiums in 20 races in the face of stiff competition.

Minì and Aron: the unpredictable battle

With Beganovic being crowned early on Saturday, Prema seemed in position to complete a 1-2 in the drivers’ standings with Paul Aron taking the win in Race 1. Third last season, the Estonian had delivered an impressive race to win in Mugello, for the third time in three races in on this track. With Gabriele Minì scoring zero points following his crash with Gabriel Bortoleto, the Estonian opened a 24-point gap on the Italian driver coming into the final race.

But Gabriele Minì overcame the obstacles to take the runner-up title to Aron in the dying stages of the season. After overtaking Dufek and Bortoleto, the Italian driver claimed his 3rd win of 2022 and his first since June, while Aron had an eventful race in the middle of the pack, eventually finishing 11th and out of the points. 

A remarkable feat for the ART GP driver who takes the runner-up title by a single point and collects the twenty FIA Super Licence points that come with it.

Consistency wins the Rookie title

The Rookie title battle between Leonardo Fornaroli (Trident) and Joshua Dufek (VAR) was the most exciting one coming into the final race. Despite poor starts with both drivers losing several positions, Dufek was still in a position to take the title by two points from Fornaroli, who had been leading the standings for nearly the whole season.

Driving in fourth while his rival was in eighth, Dufek had his advantage erased with the appearance of the Safety Car. With everyone bunched up behind the leader, the Swiss came under pressure from Hadrien David who pushed him wide at Poggio Secco. Dropping behind David and Tangavelou, the VAR driver lost almost all of his advantage on Fornaroli. Unable to retake the positions back, Dufek finished seventh, just in front of the Trident driver.

Montoya, Tramnitz, Van Hoepen, Bilinski, Meguetounif, Dufek, Dürksen, Bernier and Tangavelou have all won races in the Rookie category at least once, but amazingly, the champion Fornaroli came away from the season without a single win. The Trident driver was simply one the cleanest and one of the most consistent drivers of the field scoring points in fifteen of the twenty races and without a single retirement to his name. By claiming the Rookie title in the final race, the Italian driver finally tasted champaign on the podium to celebrate his crowning.

The final charge of Joshua Dufek in the three final rounds was not enough to outscore Fornaroli and his relentless consistency. Both drivers delivered an entertaining battle and have proven how competitive they are in their maiden seasons in the category, fighting with drivers in their second or even third season.

Victor Bernier gives FA Racing the perfect farewell gift

Even if Saintéloc’s future team manager was already present in FA’s garage on Friday, the Spanish team was fully focused on finishing its FRECA history on a high. Bought by Saintéloc two weeks ago, the “B Team” of MP Motorsport, entered Formula Renault in 2019. 

After welcoming drivers such as Franco Colapinto, Brad Benavides, Amaury Cordeel and Gabriel Bortoleto, FA Racing knew they had potential to deliver a special result to finish these four seasons at the Formula Regional level. The the speed showed by Victor Bernier and Francesco Braschi at Barcelona boosted the whole team in order to score big points in Italy.

Victor Bernier set the fastest lap time of his qualifying group on Saturday morning. He then confirmed this pace during the race, by being faster than Dino Beganovic and defending from Joshua Dufek right up to the finish line. This first podium of the young Frenchman is also the second one for FA Racing in FRECA after Bortoleto was on the rostrum in Austria last year.

One thing is certain: Saintéloc will be very happy with their acquisition of FA Racing before these two final rounds. The Spanish squad has shown a speed and a potential in Barcelona and Mugello that had not been present all year. Recent results will have certainly increased the value of the team. Good timing for Saintéloc, who will be joining the grid in 2023.

Header photo credit: FRECA

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