The Argentinian Van Amersfoort Racing driver worked tirelessly with his team since Bahrain on track and in the simulator to be even more competitive and their efforts clearly paid off last weekend in Imola.
Franco has shown impressive pace during the official tests and in the rain-ridden practice session on Friday. Even though the tricky weather conditions made Qualifying difficult for the ROFGO Junior driver, he still managed to grab pole position for Saturday’s Sprint Race.
Saturday`s race started under clear blue skies and Colapinto made a rocket start, holding onto the lead, starting to pull a gap on the chasing pack behind. By lap 4 the Argentinian had Collet close on his tail and with the help of DRS the Brazilian snatched the lead from Franco.
But Franco didn`t back down and stayed in Collet’s mirrors, waiting for the right moment to retake the position and even though two Safety Car periods brought his attack to a halt, he seized the opportunity as soon as the race went back to green and overtook Collet with a spectacular move in the final lap of the race, claiming his, and Van Amersfoort Racing’s first victory in FIA F3.
Franco rose the Argentinian flag on the F3 podium in front of thousands of people on the grandstands. It was the first time that the Argentinian anthem was played on a Formula 1 weekend in more than 40 years since the late Carlos Reutemann’s Belgian GP victory in 1981.
“Race winners! It still feels unreal. I knew after Bahrain that we are competitive, but I didn’t expect to be on the top step of the podium here in Imola. I am so proud of all of the effort behind this win. The team did an amazing job, and I’m just so happy about our performance. Our pace in the race was really, really strong. Of course, there is still a lot of work to do but we are clearly on the right path. I would like to thank to my Bullet team, ROFGO Racing and everyone at home. The support of my country of Argentina has been incredible over these last few weeks and I’m just so proud that I could pay them back with this win.“
Franco now sits in P6 in the overall standings ahead of the third round of the FIA F3 season which will take place on May 20-22 at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona.