The aim is clear for PREMA Racing in 2023. Improvements must be made to achieve a higher finish than fourth in the Teams’ Standings and return to winning ways. Just three wins compared to the eight it claimed in 2021 showcased the drop, but there’s a confidence within the team that the course can be corrected in 2023.

Frederik Vesti returns and will be racing in red once more, having driven for the Italian team previously in F3 back in 2020. He’s partnered by Formula 3 graduate Oliver Bearman, who was one of the surprise stars of the ’22 F3 campaign. He narrowly missed out on the Championship as a rookie, and now steps up along with all of his title rivals from last year.

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So, what can the combination come up with this year and can PREMA restore itself to the top of Formula 2 and prove 2022 was an anomaly?

402 laps over three days represent a solid foundation from which PREMA will build their season. Vesti finished fastest of all on the morning of Day 2 though the team was largely focused on long run pace over headline times.

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Team Principal René Rosin said he was satisfied with the work his team managed in Sakhir, even if there was a little bit more performance to unlock. While several factors including traffic and Red Flags got in the way of their run plans at times, PREMA is on good footing going into Round 1 of 2023.

“We achieved our run plan for Formula 2. I would say it was pretty solid. For Fred when he was on prime tyres, we got a bit of traffic and then we got a Red Flag on options on the second day, so that's compromised him a bit, it wasn’t a poor performance. On the race simulation for Ollie, it was a great learning experience on a very difficult circuit and in very difficult conditions for the tyre. It was good to gain experience as much as possible to get ready and reach his best potential for the race. Overall it's been a pretty solid test.

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“Of course, I think it will be a challenging first weekend in Bahrain, but it is what it is. The first race weekend of the season is one of the most difficult circuits overall. So I would say that we have great potential anyway, and I'm sure we can do a very good season.”

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Talking to the man himself, Bearman was pleased with how he progressed following on from his first test in the PREMA last year. Following three days in the car at Yas Marina following the end of the 2022 F2 campaign, the Briton was clear on where he needed to improve for this year.

In Bahrain, he said he felt much more comfortable in the car, able to identify improvements he’d made and areas that will be the focus between now and lights out in Sakhir for the first Sprint Race of the year.

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In particular, ensuring race pace and tyre longevity is improved for the Feature Race is a key aim for the race weekend, something new for him coming up from F3 with no pit stops in the races.

“Looking at the three days, I'm quite happy with how the tests went,” Bearman explained. “It was a really important three days for me. Of course I've only done three in the car before that so getting back up to speed with the team with the car, increasing my confidence in the car as well.

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“We had a lot of things to focus on from Abu Dhabi and I think we focused on them quite well, making steps forward especially in Qualifying and, of course, race pace. Those are the main things that you need to be strong in, especially going to the softer tyre in Qualifying and maximising the first lap and then, in the race, managing your tyres. It’s a bit more difficult than in F3.

“Of course, Bahrain is quite a difficult track for that as well, so it's the best place to learn. I'm really looking forward to getting going for the first race weekend and I’m excited for the for the challenge.”

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With Vesti back on board and Bearman moving up from F3, PREMA boasts a strong line-up for 2023 and there’s a lot of excitement from within the team. The targets are clear and realistically, the Italian team is more than capable of fighting back after a tough time last season.