Franco Colapinto signed with MP Motorsport for his second season in FIA Formula 3, sporting a striking blue Williams Racing livery.
The weekend got off to a solid start for Franco, finishing in the top 10 in the only practice session.
The battle for first place in the first Qualifying session of the season was extremely tight, with half of the grid finishing within half a second. Setting a lap only 0,34s off pole, Colapinto took P12 which meant he would start the Sprint Race from reverse grid pole.
The Visit Argentina-supported driver made an excellent start from the lead and controlled the opening race, fending off Marti’s attack until the Safety car was called to the track for the first time following an incident further down the field. Colapinto managed the restart perfectly, steering clear of the chasing pack. However, the race was soon neutralized again as the Safety car returned to the track.
Franco kept his lead at the second restart as well, but he couldn’t hold off the fast-charging Campos driver who passed him with DRS. Colapinto tried to fight him back, but in the end, he crossed the line in second place, claiming his first podium finish in Williams Racing Driver Academy colours.
Sunday’s Feature race turned out to be more challenging for Franco as the YPF-supported Argentinian had to start from the middle of the pack. He successfully avoided contact at the start and despite lacking the pace to challenge for another podium, he fought his way up into the points.
Colapinto now sits in sixth place in the standing after the first of ten rounds. The FIA F3 grid now moves to Australia for the series’ first-ever visit to the Albert Park Circuit in Melbourne from March 31 – April 2.
“It’s a positive start to the season. Of course, we want to finish further ahead in Qualifying, and we have a lot of work to do but we’re heading in the right direction. It was a special feeling to stand on the podium representing the Williams Racing Driver Academy, but this is just the beginning. Consistency is very important in this championship, so the goal is to keep scoring points every weekend. Melbourne will be exciting as it’s a brand-new track for all the teams and drivers, so everything is possible. Thanks to MP Motorsport for their hard work, and to my partners, Visit Argentina, YPF and ROFGO Racing for their support.”
Jamie Campbell-Walter, Managing Director, Bullet Sports Management:
“Having a podium in the first weekend is a positive and Franco was very mature in his approach all weekend. It is fair to say that qualifying was very tight and we need to maximise our package to make sure we are further up the grid in Melbourne because qualifying is so important. Overall, a good start to the season but we will now work hard to improve our performance between now and Melbourne.”