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How an Alonso protege is shaping as much as take F2 by storm

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Gabriel Bortoleto had a surprising Formulation 3 season in 2023. Stepping up from the Formulation Regional European Championship, the place he completed sixth in 2022, the Brazilian was a promising prospect, however not deemed as a lot of a title favorite because the likes of Prema rival and FRECA champion Dino Beganovic or his team-mate Paul Aron.

He confirmed flashes of velocity on the 2022 post-season take a look at in Jerez, turning heads after topping the morning session of the second day, and impressing Trident group principal Giacomo Ricci. Nevertheless it wasn’t till the opening spherical in Bahrain that Bortoleto’s potential actually confirmed.

The 19-year-old was instantly on the tempo, topping free follow earlier than qualifying second simply 0.057s off Gabriele Mini’s pole time. He went on to win the Sunday function race, instantly taking the lead within the standings – a lead which he wouldn’t relinquish. Subsequent day out in Melbourne, he took pole and victory, giving him a 20-point lead over Mini after two rounds.

Although he wouldn’t win one other race, 4 additional podiums clinched him the title by 45 factors over runner-up Zak O’Sullivan – the most important championship margin since 2019. It was an astonishing cost, one which earned him a nomination for Rookie of the Yr on the Autosport Awards.

Bortoleto’s command of the standings all through was severely spectacular, and was harking back to his good buddy Felipe Drugovich’s astonishing F2 title run a yr prior. It has earned him a promotion to F2 this yr with Invicta Racing, changing 2023 third-place finisher Jack Doohan. However had Ricci, playing on a rookie, anticipated such dominance from the younger Brazilian?

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“I’ll be sincere, we selected him as a result of we knew there was a expertise there,” Ricci tells Autosport. “Then, from somebody who’s proficient – there are many proficient drivers in F3, the extent like in F2 is excellent – however from you imagine is proficient to the very fact they may struggle in his first rookie season, dominating additionally for me the championship, it is a huge step.

“I used to be anticipating for him to struggle for the highest 5 positions within the championship, however on the similar time, I’ve to say, that instantly within the post-season take a look at in 2022, I noticed somebody that he was particular. Now we have all of the references with the drivers from the previous, and he in some corners was quicker instantly.

Photograph by: Formulation Motorsport Ltd

Bortoleto gained the F3 title on the first time of asking in 2023

“Additionally, naturally, he was not making errors. For him, it has been at all times straightforward to place the three sectors collectively. Even when it was inexperienced, inexperienced, inexperienced, not purple, not going for P1, but it surely was straightforward for him to go to a really sturdy degree placing the three sectors collectively. That for me was a giant plus.

“Since I noticed this, from the 2022 post-season take a look at, I began to turn out to be very optimistic. It’s one factor to say we’re going to struggle for the highest 5, and one factor to start out the season so sturdy and to be so aggressive and naturally, profitable the championship.

“Did I anticipate to win with Gabriel Bortoleto earlier than signing him, I might say no, however after the primary three days of post-season testing, at the moment, I turned actually optimistic that we had somebody within the automotive with all the flexibility to struggle in his rookie season for the title.”

Extra: The five key stages in Bortoleto’s 2023 Formula 3 title charge

Ricci believes Bortoleto was “by far essentially the most full driver of the sequence,” including that he was “good in any totally different situations” and praising his tyre administration abilities, in addition to his daring overtakes. He additionally famous Bortoleto’s unbelievable consistency all year long, ending exterior the highest 10 simply thrice in 18 races, considered one of which was a retirement.

Bortoleto’s sturdy work ethic has not simply endeared him to junior groups – since profitable the F3 title in September, Bortoleto has signed to McLaren’s driver growth programme

Ricci, who has managed the group since 2014, additionally credited Bortoleto and his team-mates Oliver Goethe and Leonardo Fornaroli with “superb” chemistry, and their means to share info and assist one another.

However what impressed Ricci most was Bortoleto’s motivation. Having beforehand spoken of mentor Fernando Alonso’s inspiring dedication, Bortoleto moved to Milan to be close to the group, visiting often to construct sturdy relationships among the many squad.

“I feel he did one mistake in the entire season on his facet, that’s it. The remaining was superb and constant,” Ricci says. “Completely spectacular from a rookie to see this consistency and as well as, the motivation in the direction of the job. He moved to Milan, he was 20 minutes from our manufacturing unit, many of the days he was with us.

Bortoleto's commitment to strengthening his relationship with his team comes from mentor Fernando Alonso

Photograph by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Bortoleto’s dedication to strengthening his relationship together with his group comes from mentor Fernando Alonso

“No matter we have been asking, okay we have now to do an improve on the simulator, we have now to do that, we have now to try this, he was at all times right here. Typically it was simply merely stepping in to say hi there to maintain everybody motivated and have a pleasant chemistry with the group, the mechanics, the engineers, with everybody.

“That for me was spectacular from his facet, and to see additionally somebody that was totally devoted to the job. Once more, for me, he did some distinctive races. One for me that was very good to observe was in Budapest when he had a last-lap struggle with Barnard and the overtake within the final nook, that was superb, I’ve to say.”

That degree of dedication is one thing Bortoleto himself strives for, he tells Autosport. It was a acutely aware effort to combine with the group so as to ship the very best outcomes attainable – one thing he hopes to proceed with Norfolk-based outfit Invicta Racing this season.

“I feel whenever you wish to obtain nice outcomes, the very first thing you might want to construct is an effective group round you,” Bortoleto says. “As a result of a driver by itself or entrepreneur, no matter you do, I feel you can’t do it, you can’t win otherwise you can not obtain something by your self alone, you at all times must have the proper folks round you.

“So from every part that I discovered from my household, since I used to be very younger, is that must have good folks round you. And I imagine that having a group on this sport is much more essential, as a result of driving is essential for certain, but it surely’s most likely not even half of the job, there’s lots of people concerned.

“So I made certain that with final yr in Trident, I used to be going plenty of days on the group, mainly each week of the yr I used to be there doing plenty of sim, even when I wasn’t doing something, you already know, simply going there to have lunch with the blokes, to get a greater feeling with them and them to know higher how I work and likewise myself to know them higher.

“And I am doing the identical I feel with the brand new group, even when it is somewhat bit totally different as a result of not everybody lives in Italy. Most of them do not reside in Italy, however I nonetheless attempt to make all of the efforts to be near them and to attempt to recreate the identical relationship I had with the blokes in Trident.”

Gabriel Bortoleto is part of McLaren's junior programme thanks to his stellar F3 results

Photograph by: McLaren

Gabriel Bortoleto is a part of McLaren’s junior programme because of his stellar F3 outcomes

Bortoleto’s sturdy work ethic has not simply endeared him to junior groups – since profitable the F3 title in September, Bortoleto has signed to McLaren’s driver development programme, engaged on the simulator and serving to with race preparation throughout the season.

He says his preparation for 2024 has been just like final yr, although he has been working even more durable given the elevated bodily calls for of F2 in comparison with F3. Although he could not reside as near the group, he’s nonetheless working arduous to combine himself and recreate these sturdy relationships as he gears up for a second consecutive rookie marketing campaign.

Will probably be a difficult yr, pitting him towards title favourites comparable to Prema’s Ollie Bearman and ART driver and 2022 F3 champion Victor Martins. The entire grid additionally faces the problem of the brand new F2 automotive, launched for this season.

Extra: The key updates in F2’s bold new design

Whereas some could battle to adapt to the leap, Bortoleto’s unwavering dedication each on and off-track will certainly stand him in good stead

“Making ready for pitstops, or new issues, it is fairly totally different from F3 to F2. It is way more sophisticated in F2 than F3, it was very straightforward, you simply mainly drop one clutch, we have now two after which go full throttle, and the automotive begins.

“In F2 it’s way more sophisticated than that, so the one second that we will actually take a look at it’s in testing in Abu Dhabi final yr, and in Bahrain this yr.

“We don’t have as a lot testing, however nonetheless, it is sufficient time I feel to know the fundamentals, after which for certain, throughout the season, we are going to get higher and higher on this on the perimeters of beginning and every part.

“From everyone that I heard prior to now, they at all times battle somewhat bit with that facet at first of the yr, you already know, however expertise is every part. So that you do it each time and also you get higher each time.”

Bortoleto is already settling in well at his new F2 surroundings

Photograph by: Formulation Motorsport Ltd

Bortoleto is already settling in effectively at his new F2 environment

Invicta Racing group principal Andy Roche says Bortoleto has already been settling in effectively with the group, for whom he’ll drive alongside Alpine Academy member Kush Maini. He too praises Bortoleto’s arduous work, and says he’s “very decided” and “a fast learner”.

“Gabriel’s settling in effectively,” he says. “He frolicked with the group final yr, visiting us in Norfolk forward of the post-season take a look at, so everybody was already conversant in him by November.

“With introductions out of the way in which and his seat match sorted, we have been capable of get straight to it in Abu Dhabi. Gabriel’s a terrific driver and his profitable F3 championship marketing campaign clearly makes working with him an thrilling prospect anyway, however the truth that he’s additionally straightforward to get on with and has made a terrific impression on the group is a bonus.

Roche provides: “Gabriel can be hoping to maintain up the momentum on the again of his F3 championship win, and we’ll be hoping to capitalise on that momentum. We’re no strangers to title fights and we are going to do what we will to place our drivers in the very best place to realize nice issues in 2024.”

Roche is correct when he says conserving that momentum can be key for Bortoleto as he embarks upon one other powerful journey. However whereas some could battle to adapt to the leap, Bortoleto’s unwavering dedication each on and off-track will certainly stand him in good stead.

Bortoleto will be a tough rookie to beat in F2 if his work ethic is anything to go by

Photograph by: Lionel Ng / Motorsport Images

Bortoleto can be a troublesome rookie to beat in F2 if his work ethic is something to go by

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