Earlier this year we talked with Frederik Vesti about his objectives for the 2021 Formula 3 season, which you can read here. We caught up with him once again to discuss his progress throughout the year and find out if he fulfilled his objectives.
One of the highlight points from this year is that Vesti decided to stay in Formula 3 with the objective of winning the championship and proving his worth to teams in higher series, like Formula 2. However, this was left unfulfilled as the Danish driver finished the championship in 4th place with a total of 138 points, clearly the result he didn’t want.
“It’s been a very difficult season in many aspects,” he told ASN Motorsports. “I went into the season believing I could win the championship. I changed teams [from Prema to ART Grand Prix] and of course, it took time to get used to it, you know, new people, new car, and many new things to learn.
“We also had some technical issues which definitely put us off the top 2 and top 3 in the championship, and I’ve also had to adapt a lot and learn new things.
“I’ve made mistakes as well you know, qualifying in Hungary, in Spa, and in Zandvoort, have been very difficult and put me in the middle of the top 10 which makes it very difficult to score victories and so on, which is what you need to fight for the championship. So, all those things put together is why I’m P4 [in the final standings].”
Despite his struggles throughout 2021, Vesti was optimistic that he always gave the best possible fight and “never gave up.”
“For me, I’ve really shown that I never give up. I’ve started the season pretty well, the first three rounds. After those, I was P2 in the championship, not far away from P1.
“Then I went into the mid-season which was very difficult for many different reasons, but then the last round in Sochi was very positive again.
I think I’ve shown that I can come back, I can do pole, I can win and that I can do well. But at the same time, I also struggled.Frederik Vesti
“So I think I’ve shown many things but not what I truly wanted, and that’s all I can say.”
Being a racing driver in series like Formula 3 means learning to improve and maximize your opportunities on track in order to prove yourself to higher series and, therefore, reach Formula 1. For Vesti, the biggest lesson from this year is to place himself at the top of his priority list, with everything else coming after that.
“I always try to motivate my team the best I can and improve on the car, but I sometimes spend too much time on details that are out of my hands and control. It seems to be taking a little focus away from my driving. And therefore the lesson is that I should focus more on myself and my driving.
“And as soon as I got that back, I was performing well again. So, yeah, focus on me in my driving, that’s the first priority. The rest comes after.”
All racing drivers look back and have something which they think could have done better in order to maximize their opportunities, and Vesti was no different. For him, qualifying is a point that he needs to improve.
“My main thing to do better is qualifying. I’ve done pole position and P2, P4… [But then] P7 twice and P13. Those last three are not good enough. For example, in Zandvoort, my DRS didn’t work and that’s why I was P13, but in Hungary and in Spa I was just not maximizing the car and I wasn’t doing a good enough job and was beaten also by my teammate.
“So I think the best thing I should improve from this year is qualifying, especially on these mid season races.”
Vesti’s best race: Austria
“It has to be Austria when I won the race. You know, when you’re fast and you start in front, it’s always much easier to win a race. We need to make it’s always like that. But at the same time I drove very well despite the challenge from my teammate and Dennis Hauger, and I managed to stay in front and win the race with quite a big margin, so I really have shown how strong I can be when I’m performing well.”
Vesti’s worst race: Hungary
“Hungary, race 1, when my hydraulic line destroyed itself and I retired. I was on for a decent result, not so much in race one, but I would have started in the top 3 for race two, which meant I would have scored a lot of points, and when you’re fighting for the championship it’s really bad when you retire. So yeah, very low point of the season there.”
One main thing of the 2021 Formula 3 and 2 seasons was the introduction of a new format, in which the grid from race 1 was determined by reversing the top 12 of the qualifying session, and then race 2’s grid was determined by reversing the top 12 from race 1.
For multiple drivers, including Vesti, the new format was unfair as it rewarded people who had a poor qualifying performance with a higher starting place, including the pole position. This was now changed once again for 2022, but I still asked the Danish driver how he felt with this season’s organization.
“I think the format has not been perfect this year. I think it could have been better, and what we’re going back to next year is definitely better, because it will reward the right people.
“This year I was sometimes helped by it, you know, you do a bad race, you start in the front and that’s great, but it’s not the right feeling as a racing driver. We’re all here for racing, and to award drivers that are not performing at their best, including myself at some events, I feel like it’s the wrong thing.
“If you’re doing well, you should be awarded. If you’re doing bad, you shouldn’t, and that’s why I’ve been a bit frustrated.
“I think the championship could run better with a different format, and that’s clear, they’re changing back to the normal one and I’m sure it’s going to be better.
“I don’t think the standings would have changed massively [with the 2022 format], but I think I definitely lost the chance to get P3 in Sochi, because I finished behind Novalak in the first race, and then I didn’t get to start in front in race 2 because of the rain. So yeah, that’s unfair, but that’s racing.”
Speaking about next year, Vesti said he’s “definitely working to move up to Formula 2,” but can’t reveal any of his plans yet.
“Unfortunately I can’t reveal any of my plans yet, but I’m definitely working to move up to Formula 2. It requires that I’m ready for it, and it definitely also requires a big budget, so at the moment we are looking to find new potential investors, partners, and so on, and we are really pushing to make the best step for me.
“I can’t tell you anything, but I can tell you that we’re working really hard to make things happen next year.”
I want to thank Frederik Vesti for his time and his manager, Dorte, for making this interview possible.