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Bortoleto’s FIA F3 Title Hopes Rest on His Consistency

Written by Juan Arroyo, Edited by Meghana Sree

Gabriel Bortoleto finds himself in an unfamiliar position leading the championship at the start of the Formula 3 season.

But this is not a coincidence. The Trident driver moved closer to the team's headquarters in Piacenza and prepared months ahead of the start of the year. Coupled with his work alongside his manager, none other than Fernando Alonso, Bortoleto has a wealth of experience beside him, and his hard work is paying off in the opening rounds.

“I would say that the work we have done for this season has been more intense than anything I’ve done before. I started a lot earlier than March and the first round. I was already working on this year back in September, working with Trident to make things work.”

However, his success so far cannot be called unpredictable. Bortoleto topped the timesheets in the FIA Formula 3 post-season test at Jerez in September even before his debut. That timesheet included previous race winner Franco Colapinto, Formula Regional European champion Gabriele Minì, and others.

Bortoleto raced his way to two feature wins, including a pole position and the fastest lap, to start the year. The bitter taste from the Bahrain Sprint Race was quickly washed away by a win in front of his mentor, Alonso, in the Feature race. In Melbourne, the pole position was converted into a win, and a recovery in the Sprint race meant high points scored over the weekend.

“I knew that we had the potential to achieve what I'm achieving right now, but I was not expecting to achieve this right at the beginning of the season. Straight away in the first two rounds, winning and making the podium in Melbourne, as well as in Bahrain, I was not expecting it for sure.”

Credit: Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images

Monaco was the first real setback for Bortoleto from a title rival, where Gabriele Minì, driving for ART, claimed pole position as well as the fastest lap in the Feature Race, marking the actual start of his campaign. Minì has so far fallen behind, but if it hadn't been for a five-second time penalty in Bahrain, Bortoleto's win count would have been reduced to one.

Nevertheless, the Brazilian had a solid performance in the third round, qualifying eighth and earning a total of 15 points over the weekend. Minì's return to form leaves Bortoleto with a 17-point lead in the championship.

Solid? Yes, but not easily protected.

Here's where things get interesting: Bortoleto has never won a championship in his single-seater career.

The closest he came to championship-winning machinery was in his first year in single-seaters when he teamed up with 2023 title rivals Gabriele Mini and Dino Beganovic at Prema Racing, ironically. That year in Italian F4 also included Francesco Pizzi, Jonny Edgar, Jak Crawford, Filip Ugran, Oliver Bearman, Leonardo Fornaroli, and Sebastián Montoya.

Maybe this is familiar territory for the Brazilian after all.

Bortoleto was a race-winner in 2020, although he gained momentum too late to mount a realistic title challenge. Minì and Pizzi finished more than 50 points ahead of Bortoleto, who placed fifth by the final round.

The following year was undoubtedly his most disappointing in the feeder series, with only one finish with points in the first 12 races of Formula Regional. It was a difficult time, but not a reason to give up, especially considering he finished sixth in the standings with two wins in his second attempt at the championship.

The key difference was his consistency. Although driving a much better car, the Brazilian made it a priority to finish in the top ten in all but two races where he saw the checkered flag. This resulted in points in 16 out of 20 occasions throughout the year, including the two wins and three podiums, compared to a measly six points the previous year.

Credit: Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine

The late success in FRECA boosted Bortoleto's confidence as he entered the new year. The Trident driver also credits the team atmosphere and the chemistry among his teammates for aiding his racing performance thus far. Together with teammates Leonardo Fornaroli and Oliver Goethe, Bortoleto has amassed 124 points, leading the way in the Teams' Standings.

“I think it's the best relationship that I've had with my teammates, we are all working towards just one target and that is winning the Teams’ Championship. For sure, everyone is working to try to win the Drivers’ Championship too but sometimes if you just focus on that during the season, you start to focus on other stuff, but that's not how we work at Trident.”

So what should Bortoleto focus on? What needs to change this year for him to claim the title? Does he possess the necessary qualities? With Fernando Alonso as one of the best mentors one could ask for, no internal team issues (at least not yet), and Trident being one of the top teams in Formula 3, there is no question Bortoleto's talent can take him far.

What he has lacked in the past, however, is the unwavering consistency required to win a championship like this. Bortoleto's mission is no longer chasing the highs, it's all about avoiding the lows.


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