Juan Manuel Correa experienced a challenging end to his 2022 FIA Formula 3 Championship campaign following a difficult weekend at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza.
The American-Ecuadorian driver showed promising pace in qualifying but had his fastest time from the session deleted after previously securing ninth.
A subsequent 10-place grid penalty relegated Correa to 22nd for Saturday’s Sprint Race yet despite his starting disadvantage, the 23-year-old battled hard throughout.
By securing a clean getaway, he ascended into the top 20 on the first lap and rose to 17th before the Safety Car was deployed on lap four following a crash for Zak O’Sullivan.
This pause in racing bunched up the pack and on lap nine’s restart, Correa made light work on the field ahead, overtaking László Tóth, Isack Hadjar, Brad Benavides and Kaylen Frederick in quick succession.
Now holding 13th, he next passed William Alatolo on lap 16 of 18 for 12th and was on the verge of threatening the top 10 but unfortunately slipped to 13th after being pushed wide on the final lap.
“It’s been quite an eventful weekend,” said Correa. “We qualified ninth but then I got quite a harsh penalty because there was a double yellow flag in my fastest lap.
“I slowed down and lost a few tenths, but the FIA deemed that I did not lose enough time. My fastest lap was deleted and on top of that, I got a 10-place grid penalty.
“This meant that we started 22nd but we had a pretty strong race with good pace coming through from the back of the field.
“I was fighting for 10th on the final lap but got pushed off the circuit and finished 13th. We could have scored a point or two which is encouraging, because it shows that our pace is good.”
Correa started from 13th in Sunday’s Feature Race and lost ground on the opening lap before a collision between Rafael Villagomez and David Vidales brought out the Safety Car.
When the race was resumed at the end of lap four, he lost further ground but was forced to pit following contact.
Upon rejoining in 28th, Correa faced an uphill battle and recovered to 26th before another stoppage, this time for Kush Maini and Benavides.
When the race was red flagged, it was decided that the season finale would not be resumed, leaving Correa in 24th.
“I can’t believe that the weekend and season is finished,” said Correa. “First of all, I want to wish a huge congratulations to my team-mate, Victor [Martins], for becoming champion.
“I’m really happy for him and the team because they deserve this. Secondly, I want to thank Step One Automotive Group, all of my partners, and my supporters because it’s been a great season.
“It’s a shame to finish a weekend in which we showed so much potential with no points, but I’m very happy with our progression this season, especially in the past few races.
“Our potential has been really strong and now, my full focus is on next year. Good things are coming.”
By scoring 39 points during the campaign, Correa finished 13th in the Drivers’ Championship and played a crucial role in helping ART Grand Prix to third in the Teams’ Standings.