There was finally a sense of familiarity for the 52 junior drivers aiming to reach Formula 1 in the coming years, as F2 and F3 supported the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya.
It's not only Formula 1 drivers who are massively familiar with the Catalan track; the course has frequent use as test days and features across many lower-category championships.
That is perhaps the reason why the racing thrilled and the Feature Race winners looked so in control, with Ollie Bearman and Pepe Martí fending off the attention of those behind from their pole positions.
Here's how the best Barcelona feeder series racers fared.
Ollie Bearman - A
The misfortune for Bearman in the early portion of the 2023 championship will feel like a bad dream for the Englishman, who has rocketed up the standings over the last month.
He proved he can take pole position with a steering wheel facing the right way after his crazy maiden P1 qualification in Baku just two rounds ago, and just like in Azerbaijan, he transformed pole in Barcelona into a vital race win.
With his teammate leading the standings and taking the Sprint victory, Bearman showed that PREMA doesn't only have one driver in the title fight for 2023 as the Ferrari-backed teenager rapidly closes in on those at the top.
Frederik Vesti - A-
Vesti's mature drive in the Sprint Race, held in challenging soaking-to-drying conditions, had the Dane turn a P3 start into a win by being the best driver on the track.
It might only be a Sprint victory, but his early move on Jak Crawford let him hunt down temporary leader Amaury Cordeel within two laps. From then, Vesti created a sizeable gap before the safety car.
It could've been a fightback to remember in the Feature Race after making the alternate strategy work tremendously. Still, settling for P5 rather than going gung ho for further places shows that the Mercedes junior knows consistent points are the key to title wins.
Enzo Fittipaldi - B+
It's an up-and-down season for the Brazilian racer, but when he's up, he's really up, as evidenced by his second P2 finish of the season.
Fittipaldi showed his quality in Charouz last year, but it hasn't come quite as good for him in 2023, even with the might of Carlin, thanks to some misfortune out of his hands.
Not so in Barcelona! His qualifying had him alongside Bearman for the Feature Race, and an elbows-out first lap meant he had to settle for P2, but he never looked like he'd get caught from behind with his impressive pace.
Pepe Martí- A+
I must admit that I can't be unbiased with this score as there's so much emotion tied up with Campos Racing, the great Spanish family outfit that is shedding its underdog reputation in 2023.
While Fernando Alonso didn't bring joy to the seas of green in Formula 1, his Spanish protogé Pepe Martí did, in a Spanish team, in support of the Spanish Grand Prix, cheered on by cheering Spaniards, mere miles from his family home.
It's the story of the weekend for me, and the 17-year-old racer now sits P2 in the standings after showing the consistency you'd expect from his rivals in the usual suspect at the front like Trident and PREMA rather than Campos. Outstanding job, Pepe! Vamos!
Gabriel Bortoleto - A-
After taking the first two Feature Race wins, there were thoughts that Bortoleto might run away with the title in 2023, such was his early advantage.
That hasn't come to pass, but even when he's not scoring podiums, Bortoleto is picking up decent points regularly enough that he could be crowned champion without any other silverware at his current trajectory.
Two P4 finishes required the Brazilian to make moves on track but sidestep midfield madness is perfect for a racer who has banked early points and can now avoid risks in the remaining season. Another of Alonso's stable, too; he knows how to pick them.
Franco Colapinto - A-
If you told me it'd be four rounds of racing before we saw Colapinto take to the podium on Sunday in F3 2023, I wouldn't have believed you.
The Argentine sensation is one of the only non-rookie drivers to have shown their worth in their second (or more) year of Formula 3 racing, and this is the result he needed to kick off his season, especially after the Australian disappointment when he was disqualified from a win.
A great qualifying and an impressive Feature Race get him into the three shoutout spots for this round, but don't overlook his overtakes in the Sprint Race, too – an all-round solid performance.
2023 Ongoing rankings
A messy weekend for Miní sees him drop from the top spot, with the championship leaders showing their worth and blocking out P1 and P2 in the ongoing rankings after their Barcelona points hauls continue their run of top-10 finishes.
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