Written by Sean McKean, Edited by Umut Yelbaşı
One win, two podiums, eighth in the standings. On paper, this season doesn’t look too bad when you consider Goethe is just a rookie. However, if you look at the buzz that surrounded the Danish-German after his select FIA F3 starts in 2022, many people are left wondering the same thing: Why was he so far out of championship contention?
Heading into the 2023 Formula 3 season, Goethe had just finished a record-breaking Euroformula Open season in 2022, in which he took 11 wins and 18 podiums en route to a championship victory. Though the grid may not have been particularly strong, his starts at the Hungary and Monza rounds in FIA F3 in 2022 showed great strength, getting a best finish of fourth in Belgium.
The other side of the garage held two more rookies, with Gabriel Bortoleto and Leonardo Fornaroli each jumping from FRECA. Bortoleto came off a campaign of mixed results, taking two wins and sixth overall, while Fornaroli had a more under-the-radar season, finishing eighth in the standings with no wins or podiums.
The 2023 Season
Given his fellow rookie teammates’ previous results, many anticipated Goethe to take control of the Trident trio, and the performance was there at the start.
In Bahrain, Goethe qualified fourth, a tenth ahead of Fornaroli and behind Bortoleto. The races also went his way - he finished the sprint in sixth place, and came second in the feature race. Though Bortoleto ended up winning that feature race, the hype behind Goethe didn’t seem to be for no reason; however, no one anticipated the drop in form that followed.
In Melbourne, he was off the pace in qualifying, which sent him to the back of the field for the whole weekend, mustering a best finish of P22 in the feature. His first DNF of the season also came during this weekend in the sprint, where he barely made it through the first corner before retiring with a puncture.
After a very poor weekend in Melbourne, his Monaco weekend could only be described as abhorrent. A crash during free practice resulted in a mediocre qualifying result of P17. Though the races went better than Melbourne - finishing P17 and P13 respectively - the sprint race wasn’t a clean affair, where VAR’s Tommy Smith was forced to admire the fine details of the wall at Mirabeau after a hit by Goethe.
The next two rounds at Spain and Austria were effectively write-offs too. Even though he almost breached the points for the first time since Bahrain in each respective sprint, P11 was all he could muster, while his teammates finished within the top four. Around this point of the season, many in the paddock began to take notice of Goethe’s poor run of form.
Turn of the Tide
Heading into Silverstone, many anticipated the Trident driver to continue running around P20; however, Goethe came out of nowhere and put his car in second-place, trailing only his teammate, Leonardo Fornaroli.
Unfortunately, he overheated his tyres early on in the ensuing sprint, which meant he could only manage a P17 finish. In the feature race, however, he snatched the lead from Fornaroli off the line and held on to take his maiden FIA Formula 3 win.
In Hungary, Goethe wasn’t able to repeat his successes at Silverstone but he finally showed consistent finishes in the points, finishing fifth and fourth in the sprint and feature races respectively.
Though his great form carried him higher up the standings, Belgium was possibly his worst round to date. After failing to set a competitive time in a wet-to-dry qualifying, he faced a P27 starting position. In the sprint, he collided with Hitech’s Sebastian Montoya, which put Goethe out of the race on lap three. The feature didn’t go any better, as he heavily crashed out of the race going up Radillon, again on lap three.
Come season’s end at Monza, all Goethe and his team wanted was a clean finish to the season. At first, all was going well in qualifying, where he drove a lap which put him in first place, but a crash looked like it would derail his efforts… Until it was decided the session wouldn’t be resumed, granting Goethe his first FIA F3 pole position.
The races were a mixed bag, as he finished a solid fifth in the sprint. However, when it came time to begin the feature race from pole position, he had to retire on the formation lap with a mechanical failure, ending a rookie season filled with struggle in eighth place in the championship standings.
Even though Ollie Goethe did not have a season up to expectations in 2023, 2024 offers a new opportunity. Now, with a clean slate, Goethe will undoubtedly be charging for the 2024 FIA Formula 3 title.