JM’s 2022 Formula 3 Campiagn
Following the completion of 18 races over the course of nine weekends, the 2022 FIA Formula 3 championship is over.
From the season’s start at Sakhir to its close at Monza, Step One Automotive Group athlete, Juan
Manuel Correa played a starring role throughout. The American-Ecuadorian racer’s campaign commenced with unrivaled consistency, but even in the face of poor fortune on his continued comeback trail, he unlocked a new level of performance.
His season commenced at the Bahrain International Circuit in March as the Formula 3 field reconvened for the first time since racing in Sochi, Russia, in September 2021. The potential was immediately apparent, and after qualifying fourth, JM delivered a fighting performance on both Saturday and Sunday. From seventh on the grid, he navigated a tricky Sprint Race plagued by tire degradation to take home his first points of the season but truly came into his own in the Feature. After a slow start, the 23-year-old carved his way onto the podium but was forced to swap his attacking drive for a defensive run with continued tire struggles and an emerging pain in his left foot. JM took home a fighting fourth at the chequered flag to kick-start his 2022 season in fine form.
No sooner than the season had begun, it was already on pause as JM was diagnosed with a metatarsal fracture in his left foot, shortly after racing in Bahrain. Opting for rest and recovery, instead of potentially aggravating the injury, he opted to sit on the
sidelines for Formula 3’s Imola weekend, with his full focus on returning for Barcelona.
Despite racing with an adapted braking set-up at the cost of performance, JM made a strong comeback at Barcelona and scored points in both races at the Spanish venue. From second on the grid, he spent the entire Sprint Race fighting for a place on the podium, but a sudden loss of grip in the mid-stage dealt a cruel blow. By losing two places in the final laps, JM sealed fifth at the flag and delivered another fighting drive in the Feature Race to bring home 10th place – a result that made him the only F3 driver to score points in every race started during the season.
Set-up struggles at Silverstone impacted the British leg of JM’s 2022 season, and a continued lack of grip yielded little reward at the Northamptonshire circuit. After finishing 21st in Saturday’s Sprint, changes overnight promised improved pace but contact on
the opening lap of the Feature Race ended JM’s resurgence at the first hurdle.
JM entered Formula 3’s weekend in Austria looking to build momentum and, with a strong qualifying, started second in the Sprint Race at the Red Bull Ring. He outpaced polesitter Caio Collet from the outset and quickly snatched the lead before a gearbox failure at the start of lap six forced him into retirement. In a wet race on Sunday, however, JM delivered an impressive recovery drive and scored his first points since Barcelona by taking home 10th.
With the summer break fast approaching, JM was determined at the end of the first half of the season, on a high and after a forgettable first race, came out fighting in the Feature. The rain was pouring down, and after struggling to find grip, he made a masterstroke decision to pit for dry tires on lap 15, with the track still damp. Upon rejoining in 26th, JM set out on an impressive recovery drive and by overtaking 20 drivers in only ten laps – and five on the last lap alone – finished sixth to take home eight points.
When the season resumed at Belgium’s Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, JM hit the ground running and secured a front-row start for Saturday’s Sprint Race. With a clean getaway, he immediately applied pressure on polesitter Zak O’Sullivan and took the
lead in Turn Five, only to be hit by the Briton and pick up a puncture as a result. After pitting for repairs and rejoining the race 27th, JM was unphased and recovered to 18th despite driving with extensive damage. In a stop-start Feature Race, he was on the verge of returning to the top 10, but countless Safety Cars halted any and all opportunities to leave him 15th.
With the pace improving but luck dealing countless cruel blows, JM hit the reset button at Zandvoort to charge to his very first podium in Formula 3. He led in the early stages of Saturday’s Sprint after starting on pole and dueled wheel-to-wheel with Collet over the opening laps before dropping behind the Brazilian. By running his own race, however, JM held second with expert precision to take home his first top-three finish of the season, while a penalty compounded his efforts in the Feature.
In the 2022 season finale at Monza, JM showed outright pace from the outset, although a grid penalty dented his hopes of a repeat of his podium performance from Zandvoort. After starting outside the top 20, he very nearly recovered to the top 10 in the Sprint Race and missed out on points after being forced off the track on the final lap. Contact in a shortened Feature Race harmed his potential further, with evident speed being held back by circumstances beyond his control. By scoring 39 points during the season, JM ranked 13th in the 40-car Drivers’ Championship and played a crucial role in helping ART Grand Prix take third in the Teams’ Standings.