Campos Racing are determined to be back with a vengeance this season. After their 2022 plans began with such promise and success during the opening rounds, the Spanish team’s dreams were derailed by Ralph Boschung’s unfortunate neck injury early on.

Yet now with the experienced Swiss driver remaining at the helm and the welcomed addition of Formula 3 graduate Kush Maini to the squad, the signs of a strong 2023 campaign are beginning to emerge.

Locking in their line-up prior to post-season testing at the Yas Marina Circuit last November has given both drivers the ideal situation - time to embed themselves within the team. While the disappointments of last year were a bitter pill to swallow, there seems to be a rejuvenated sense of confidence emanating from their garage.

Their performance during testing in Bahrain correlates this, both in terms of lap time and mileage. Alongside each driver topping a session on the final day of running, Boschung secured the sixth-fastest time overall across the three days, with Maini hot on his heels in ninth. Importantly, the pair were both within half a second of Van Amersfoort Racing’s Richard Verschoor.

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Additionally, Campos notched the fifth highest number of laps as a team, while Maini’s haul of 195 laps was only bested by the ART Grand Prix duo of Théo Pourchaire and Victor Martins and PREMA Racing’s Frederik Vesti and Oliver Bearman.

For Maini, his attentions have been firmly fixed on tyre management – particularly managing two different compounds in a race for the first time and adapting to the variables in strategies. The Indian driver says that finding an understanding and a balance with his long-run pace will be vital, especially when navigating the 32-lap Feature Race around the Bahrain International Circuit.

“I’m feeling great! I’m working well with the team, and we ran our plan without any issues and gathered a lot of data to go through before Round 1. We focused on race runs a lot, with both the soft and the hard tyres, to understand them better – especially for myself, as I’ve never worked with them before.

“Our main focus will be all around. We’ll be going through all the information we collected, but I think we will dive deeper into the long runs and figure out the best way to manage the tyres.”

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More importantly for Maini as he prepares for his Formula 2 debut, the laps on the board have given him a solid baseline to start off with. Whilst immediately getting up to speed during the opening round is the dream scenario, realistically, maintaining a steady level of progression and development throughout the long 14-round season is the ideal target.

Over in the #25 Campos box, Boschung’s experience and continuity is a valuable asset to a team who are looking to bounce back and a beneficial reference point for Maini to learn from. A relatively smooth sailing throughout testing with few short interruptions gave the team the opportunity to fully execute their run plan.

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While the track’s abrasive surface and sweltering desert temperatures naturally impact tyre degradation, the struggle to extend his opening stint on the white-walled tyres in last year’s Feature Race that potentially cost him a podium finish. Searching to refine his technique on the harder Pirelli compound, Boschung is optimistic that he’s found the key to unlocking their potential and can overcome their Achilles heel.

“I’m feeling good after the three days we completed as per the plan. It was quite intense with a lot of test items to do, but we went through the program and have the results and numbers we aimed for. We focused mainly on long runs and specific short run test items.

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“We have learnt how the hard tyre works more than last year and figured out a few interesting driving techniques for that tyre specifically. Now mainly long-run pace will be the main target to work on in the preparation before Round 1 and throughout the season. This will be our focus as it was our main weakness last year.”

Differing run plans, fuel loads and track conditions mean it's hard to establish a clear picture of how the field will pan out until the first race weekend is completed. However, if Campos can successfully recreate the magic from the start of the ‘22 campaign, then the potential is there for them to be a force to be reckoned with once more.