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FIA F3 Monte Carlo

F3 drivers praise return of "really special" Monaco to calendar

Formula 3 drivers have praised Monaco’s return to the series’ calendar, labelling the street circuit “really crazy and special.”

Franco Colapinto, MP Motorsport

The junior series returned to the principality for the first time since 2012 this year, with its last visit having come under its previous guise as GP3.

It was announced in November that F3 would make its return in place of Formula Regional European Championship and alongside F2, which has long been a mainstay of the weekend.

Speaking after Saturday’s sprint race, winner Pepe Marti said it was an “awesome” experience, adding that the walls felt far closer in real life than on the simulator.

The Campos Racing driver won from reverse-grid pole in his first visit to Monaco, crossing the line over eight seconds clear of second-placed Leonardo Fornaroli.

He said: “For me it was my first experience around Monaco and it was awesome – it’s just insane. It’s such a great track.

“Coming into the weekend, you do a lot of sim, you do all that prep, but when you actually do the track walk I had a little bit of nerves on the scared side because it was like okay, everything looks a lot tighter than it does on the sim.

“It was quite scary at first, not really scary but you have those nerves because you don’t know how it’s going to be.

“As soon as I got into the car in the wet, for me the wet circumstances are always going to be good to drive, I like the wet a lot. So as soon as I got comfortable with seeing the walls so close and using the white line as a reference as the wall, it’s such a great track. It’s really special.

“When it got announced that we were racing here, at first it was nerves, but then it was like wow, we’re going to get the chance to race in Monaco.

“So it’s really special and a fantastic venue to race at. Unfortunately we don’t get many chances to overtake, but if there were chances to overtake I think this track would be too good. Really, really crazy and special.”

Fornaroli was more familiar with the circuit, having raced there in FRECA last year, but said the wet free practice session on Thursday was still “really scary for me, it was so easy to lock up or losing the rear and going into the wall.”

Gabriele Mini, Hitech Grand Prix

Gabriele Mini, Hitech Grand Prix

Photo by: Formula Motorsport Ltd

The Trident driver said though it was “less dramatic” to learn the circuit given his experience, it was still important to “take it easy” but now is “starting to get used to driving close to the walls” ahead of Sunday’s feature race.

Gregoire Saucy, who finished third in Saturday’s race for ART, agreed with Marti that it is an “amazing track,” adding: “When you do the sim and then you come for the track walk, the first lap you do is really special and everything is really close.

“I drove here in 2021 with FRECA but with F3 it’s just amazing, it’s a really nice car and in Monaco it’s really nice and really fast. I just get a lot of pleasure driving this track.

“Qualifying didn’t go as I wanted but to finish on the podium today is really special and I’m really happy for the team, because it saved a bit the weekend. Just to drive in Monaco in this car was amazing.”

Sunday polesitter Gabriele Mini, who drives for Hitech, said having the circuit in the calendar is “something special.”

“I think it’s one of my favourite tracks and I think I’m not the only one to say this, for sure,” he said on Friday. “It’s pretty different driving it compared to Formula Regional, the car is the same weight, but with much softer tyres and more power and aerodynamics.

“It’s much quicker and you have to take much bigger risks as you’re arriving quicker into the corners.”

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