Victor Martins has adopted his former Formulation Renault Eurocup title rival Oscar Piastri in turning into the second Alpine Formulation 1 junior to win the FIA Formulation 3 title within the final three years.
Very similar to Piastri, Martins earned the title by way of consistency as he gained solely two races in one of the wide-open title fights the championship has ever seen since its creation as GP3.
Six drivers headed into the ultimate race with an opportunity of profitable the title and it took over 25 minutes post-race for a champion to be declared after a crimson flag for a crash on the second Lesmo prematurely ended proceedings simply as a collection of penalties have been coming by.
It was a fittingly weird solution to finish a wild season that featured 11 completely different winners in 18 races.
However what of champion Martins’ F1 prospects and the way about these of his rivals? Our writers give their verdict:
Martins couldn’t afford to lose this
Martins regarded like he’d seen a ghost when stood subsequent to the ART pit gantry ready for the destiny of the title to be resolved – and it’s straightforward to grasp why. This was not a championship race he may significantly afford to lose.
The operative quantity right here is six – that is Martins’ sixth yr on the single-seater scene. However in every of these he completed not less than within the high 5 in no matter championship he was contesting – in that sense, it’s been a Nyck de Vries-ian (how topical) profession.
Since becoming a member of method racing in 2017 after turning into world karting champion within the Junior class, Martins was by no means dangerous or significantly struggling – simply by no means fairly dominant. He definitely wasn’t dominant right here.
This was an exceptionally bizarre F3 season through which constant scoring appeared out of the query for each driver on the grid, and the very fact six drivers entered the ultimate race with an opportunity on the title mirrored that. Martins, who himself admitted that there was a stretch of the season the place he was flat out “dangerous”, was by far probably the most skilled of mentioned six in open-wheel phrases – so he actually needed to win.
As a qualifier, he was in all probability third-best within the collection this season, with a mean of seven.1 skewed by an aberration of a wet-dry qualifying at Spa, and a extra consultant median of 5 – however nonetheless behind Roman Stanek and late-season sensation Zane Maloney.
Victor Martins in junior single-seaters
2017 – 2nd in French F4, 4 factors behind champion Arthur Rougier
2018 – fifth in Formulation Renault Eurocup, 89.5 factors behind champion Max Fewtrell
2019 – 2nd in Formulation Renault Eurocup, 7.5 factors behind champion Oscar Piastri
2020 – Formulation Renault Eurocup champion, 44 factors away from nearest rival Caio Collet
2021 – fifth in FIA F3, 74 factors behind champion Dennis Hauger
2022 – FIA F3 champion, 5 factors away from nearest rival Zane Maloney
As a driver for ART, as soon as by far the perfect staff in F3’s predecessor GP3, he was its standard-bearer by a critical margin – which was not nothing given the line-up included the returning and nonetheless clearly fast Juan Manuel Correa and final yr’s runaway Formulation Regional European champion Gregoire Saucy.
Jack Doohan appears to have leapfrogged Martins within the Alpine F1 junior staff’s pecking order, that a lot appears clear. A title secured by the tiniest of margins over a pair of rookies gained’t change that.
However there’s absolutely sufficient right here for Alpine to take a punt in an even bigger automotive, to see if Martins can thrive in additional highly effective equipment the way in which Doohan and Piastri have.
The champion’s not probably the most thrilling prospect
I’m instructed Martins is extremely regarded throughout the Alpine set-up and now he has two junior single-seater titles to his identify, that means he’s among the many most embellished drivers on the Formulation 1 ladder.
It is going to be fascinating to look at his progress in Formulation 2, though I need to admit rookie abilities Zane Maloney, Ollie Bearman and even Isack Hadjar impressed me extra this season in Formulation 3 and have marked themselves out as extra explosive prospects.
Martins did the perfect job over the season, that’s why he’s champion, however he has nonetheless been very inconsistent. It was not the form of dominant efficiency from a second-year driver that convincingly outshines the thrilling rookies.
What’s extra, Maloney and Bearman trended rather more impressively. Maloney ended his season with a hat-trick of function race victories, Bearman with six podiums within the last 9 races.
It felt fairly becoming that whereas Martins slipped again and did simply sufficient to win the title, Maloney and Bearman scrapped it out for the ultimate win of the season.
BEARMAN MAKES A MOVE ON MALONEY INTO T1
— Formulation 3 (@FIAFormula3) September 11, 2022
Maloney’s solely 18 years outdated (and absolutely due a name from an F1 staff to affix a junior programme) whereas Bearman is youthful nonetheless at 17.
Martins is hardly over the hill – he’s nonetheless solely 21! – but when I’m figuring out graduates from F3 to watch subsequent season, it’s these rookies that catch the attention.
Ferrari’s future is protected
At simply 17 years outdated, Bearman is the brightest F1 prospect amongst this area and a driver Ferrari needs to be very enthusiastic about.
Solely a monitor limits penalty prevented him from profitable on his debut in Bahrain and that maiden win lastly got here in model at Spa.
He’s acquired the higher of his two F1 junior Prema team-mates Arthur Leclerc (Ferrari) and Jak Crawford (Crimson Bull) regardless of each of them having a yr of FIA F3 expertise.
His chic double overtake within the Monza dash race with all the title stress on his shoulders was proof of a driver who thrives underneath stress.
Each title contender can level to not less than one weekend of dangerous luck however had Bearman’s qualifying at Zandvoort not been ruined by a crimson flag, the tip championship consequence may look very completely different now.
A swap to Formulation 2 feels an inevitability, as does staying within the Prema household that has beforehand taken Ferrari juniors Charles Leclerc and Mick Schumacher to the crown.
Transitioning to F2 gained’t be straightforward for such a younger driver and as Theo Pourchaire has proven during the last two years, your ‘future F1 driver’ tag can rapidly be referred to as into query even after such a robust yr in FIA F3.
One other staff can that be happy with the efficiency of its lead junior is Crimson Bull.
Isack Hadjar seemed to be the title favorite after a robust first half of the yr that featured his maiden function race win in a chaotic moist race in Austria.
However a string of incidents and lowly grid positions derailed his cost and a crash in qualifying on the Monza finale was the ultimate nail within the coffin of his title bid.
He’s nonetheless confirmed himself to be arguably Crimson Bull’s most enjoyable junior after its F2 contingent failed to stop Crimson Bull from trying exterior its driver pool to switch Pierre Gasly at AlphaTauri.
Elsewhere within the area, fifth within the championship Roman Stanek rebuilt his repute properly with Trident after a few troubled years in FIA F3 the place he’d amassed simply 5 factors finishes.
Leclerc struggled to push on his second yr within the collection and a sensible title cost by no means emerged regardless that he was in mathematical rivalry till the tip.
Equally, second-year drivers Crimson Bull junior Crawford and Alpine junior Caio Collet have been overshadowed by their respective team-mates Bearman and Martins.
Franco Colapinto took a brace of wins for Max Verstappen’s former Van Amersfoort Racing staff that rightfully acquired its place again in F3 this yr.
There was additionally nice resilience proven by Jonny Edgar to bounce again from his Crohn’s illness analysis and finish the yr with a constant factors run.
And Correa deserves the ultimate point out for taking to the FIA F3 podium at Zandvoort three years on from the horrifying Spa crash within the 2019 Formulation 2 function race.