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Gabriel Bortoleto Crowned as F3 Champion in Monza

Written by Juan Arroyo, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

Gabriel Bortoleto Crowned as F3 Champion in Monza
It has been a season like no other for Bortoleto. Credit: Formula Motorsport Ltd

Gabriel Bortoleto is officially a Formula 3 champion—and everything about the way the title was won sums up his season.


Bortoleto’s campaign was incredibly consistent from the start. Two feature race wins in the opening rounds set the tone for the rest of the year. It slowly became less of a question of if the Brazilian driver would win the championship, and more of when he would do it.


After eight rounds of action—and a single Monza qualifying session—the rest of the weekend will feel closer to a lap of honour for the Trident driver.


Several drivers had been in contention throughout the year. Inconsistency hurt some of their efforts; others were impeded by mechanical issues. Whatever the reason, one after the other fell by the wayside, until just three remained entering the final weekend.


There is a catch in the previous statement, in that Bortoleto had built a lead so comfortable in the standings that, should he have missed the weekend’s action, Paul Aron would’ve still had to score the maximum amount of points on offer to surpass Bortoleto’s tally by exactly one point—or in Josep María Martí’s case, match it and win on countback.


One would ask themselves, in their place, if there is still a title to be chased after. Turning off the pressure to simply focus on the weekend would be a rational course of action. After all, they are all but confirmed to be jumping to Formula 2 next year. The work is just about done. Would they be racing at this level if they weren’t holding out for that slight glimmer of hope, though? The answer, evidently, is no.


What followed was a qualifying session fit to Bortoleto’s campaign, and Formula 3 itself. It hadn’t started and already there was tension in the air. The drivers took their usual reconnaissance lap and returned to the pit lane. And so what little silence could be found at the Temple of Speed deafened the track. This went on for seven minutes.


Finally, the drivers took to their out-laps. The F3 cars do a great job at painting the length of Monza’s straights. They lined up single-file, one after another, hoping to find the perfect distance to the car ahead to get a tow but avoid the dirty air.


Just as a line of at least a dozen was approaching Parabolica, Ido Cohen was tapped into a spin by teammate Ollie Gray. Red flag out and everybody back to the pit lane.


When the session was restarted, TV viewers were greeted by a side-by-side of Bortoleto’s onboard camera and an interview earlier in the day. “I would like to finish this as soon as possible,” said the Trident driver while discussing Brazilian junior series champions—evidently aware of his position, but cautionary nonetheless.


As they got back underway, Martí was the first of the contenders to strike. Nothing special can be said for his lap, as he was hindered by traffic ahead. The same could be said for Bortoleto, whose own source of dirty air was Martí himself. In the Prema garage, the decision to send Aron out later was rewarded with provisional second place, and the modest thought that, perhaps, it wasn't over yet. Martí and Bortoleto quickly fell down the order, as is the nature of qualifying at Monza. The latter will be calmer, however. He is champion for now.


Fifteen minutes remained and then, as if the chaos of 30 cars running around Monza wasn’t enough, a second red flag was thrown out. Joshua Dufek, the culprit, will be embarrassed to be playing this role in his one-off appearance for Campos. Even worse for the Spanish team was that they’d just been informed that Martí’s best lap would be deleted for a track limits infringement. Martí, naturally, was less than happy. His radio said it all: desperation was creeping in.


With another restart on the way, perhaps it would have served as a good reminder for Aron and Martí that their positions in the championship aren’t a lock until Sunday evening. Or perhaps not, considering they were then entering last-gasp territory. Regardless, 19 points separated P2 and P7 in the standings at the time of writing. Nothing is—or was, for all purposes—defined yet.


And so with twelve minutes yet to go, drivers took to the track again for one final skirmish. Bortoleto set a lap good enough for fifth on his first attempt. His teammate Oliver Goethe, on the other hand, rocketed up to first. It was a welcome help for the Brazilian this time around. And, in what could only be described as true Formula 3 style, Goethe, the provisional pole sitter, went off at the Lesmos exactly one minute later. Another red flag thrown out.


Aron third, Bortoleto fifth, Martí sixteenth.


The drivers grew increasingly frustrated with the repeated halting. Luke Browning promptly went on the radio to remind TV viewers to not be fooled by the ten minutes theoretically remaining in the session: “It could be thirty with all the red flags.” At 3:40 p.m., five minutes after the session was supposed to end, the notification came from the stewards room: “SESSION WILL NOT BE RESUMED”. It was settled. Celebrations mounted around the Trident pit boxes. Bortoleto was finally their new champion. Goethe’s pole position was enough to give him the title on Friday.


Trident have more to fight for over the weekend. A 21–point deficit separates them from leaders Prema in the teams’ standings. By some strange quirk of fate, both outfits are at their home race for this showdown. One final victory for Bortoleto, Goethe, and Leonardo Fornaroli to chase in 2023.


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