Dino Beganovic is the latest Swedish hopeful making his way up the single-seater ladder. We sat down for a chat with Dino to find out more about him and his career.
I wanted to do the same thing, I told him as we were watching TV. It seemed fun I said. So I got more interested in cars. I was really into cars when I was little.
Sweden are blessed with a travelling fleet of karts called Karts on Tour which visits most places in the country. Dino’s dad rang him after school with the news that he would be sampling a kart at their local track. And not just any old rental kart, a full-on race kart.
From that exciting first drive, Dino’s family bought him an old second-hand kart and he began to practice in earnest. Six months later, he was ready for his racing debut.
Beganovic’s karting record is highly impressive as he dominated the Swedish karting scene, winning just about everything that it was possible to win. Dino has long had the support of Joakim Ward, a veritable kingmaker in Swedish karting. Through Ward’s patronage, Dino was able to compete in the Italian Championship and WSK Euro Series, winning the first and finishing runner-up in the latter.
These glittering results attracted the attention of another Swedish racing legend in the form of Rickard Rydell who subsequently became his manager. As Dino recalls:
I met Rickard just before the last season of karting. Actually the first time I met him was the national camp of the Swedish team. I found out three months later he was there to meet me!
With Rickard and Joakim’s support, Beganovic was invited to attend Maranello to try out for the Ferrari Driver Academy and was accepted into the Scuderia. Announced as a Prema Powerteam driver, Dino’s next step was competing in German and Italian F4 for 2020. Unsurprisingly the differences between kart and car were pretty significant:
It feels like a whole different world because, you know in karts you aren’t protected by anything around you. You don’t have, for example, seatbelts there.. You just sit in a plastic seat, not protected by anything. Sitting in the F4, you’re completely protected with the seatbelt really tight and you can’t really move. In karting you can move a lot in the seat to change the balance. In cars you are really tight.
Compared to karts, I feel like it’s a huge difference, driving-wise, to get used to. When I did my outlap I was thinking I will never learn to drive this, it is going to be really difficult. It just feels like another world. A completely different thing to drive.
I think most people think the gears are the biggest change. But actually when I tried it, it was quite natural to get used to. It was more about driving the car and getting the confidence in it. Really feeling the car with springs especially because in karting we don’t have all the weight transferring in the corners which changes the balance completely.
As can be expected, Beganovic’s first season in cars was a steep learning curve, where every weekend he learned more about the car and how to get the most out of his weekend. It was also less we forget, a successful year as well with the young Swede clinching third in the championship which he was very happy with. Dino pointed to the two Imola weekends being an example.
Beganovic scored a pole in the first weekend but no podiums. Dino took that experience of the starts, restarts, consistent lapping and fighting the other cars to bag a win and podiums in all three races at the next Imola weekend. No surprises then that Dino is a self-confessed fan of the track!
This season Beganovic is making the step up to F3, again with Prema. The Formula Regional European Championship is the first “melting pot” championship of all of the different F4 championships, plus the drivers who would have been competing in Formula Renault Eurocup, following a merger between the championships. This season will be the first for FREC to use the Alpine engine instead of the Alpha Romeo. Ever the realist, Dino is under no illusions of the challenge that faces him:
It will be a really competitive championship which I’m very happy about and it will be a lot of drivers I’ve heard. So It will be a really fun season.
Fun or not, one thing it will certainly be is physically demanding. The F3 car has more power, more aerodynamics and demands much more from the driver. Dino explained that F3 drivers consider the FREC F3 car to be the toughest on the arms of all the F3 series, including the FIA F3 championship that they are all vying to step up to.
As should be expected, Dino’s training regime has stepped up a gear for this year and he is also conditioning himself for a first desert race when he competes in the F3 Asia prior to the FREC season. Unsurprisingly, Dino is excited about visiting the Middle East, a region he has not been before.
Beganovic shared some fascinating insights with us not only about moving from karts to single-seaters but also from F4 to F3. The car is not only more powerful and with increased aero but being so much heavier means that turn-in is quite lazy in comparison, with the driver being forced to be a little more patient as he gets the car to the apex.
It’s also very affected by wind direction changes, similar to F1. Car development and setup becomes increasingly important in F3 as well and Beganovic explained how he has been working hard with his engineers to learn what works for him on the car. Making notes on what works so they can try it in other similar situations has been crucial.
Prema Powerteam are synonymous with the Ferrari Driver Academy as is Tony Kart in karting. The three entities are hugely successful in their own categories, and working together they ensure that superstars like Charles Leclerc and the much mourned Jules Bianchi can reach F1.
One thing Beganovic mentioned about Prema which was particularly heartwarming was the strong sense of family that comes from being with the team. Their years of racing experience and the work they put into their rookie drivers clearly means a lot to Dino and the others. The camaraderie is clearly on display in this Prema video of their 2020 drivers filling the time during the delay to the season due to Covid-19.
Family was another topic we spoke about with Dino Beganovic. Despite being just 16 years old until tomorrow (Happy 17th Birthday Dino!), he has already left his family home to move into a house close to Maranello with Arthur Leclerc and Gianluca Petecof. Both of his housemates are also FDA members and Prema drivers.
There is surprising maturity to Beganovic’s worldview as he told us about the practicality of moving to Italy from Sweden, to be close to Prema and Ferrari. Dino tells us how he still sees his parents regularly, for example, at races and his obvious excitement at seeing the world and being on a cool adventure with no-one to tell him what to do. The pause as the faces of his manager, Prema team manager and Ferrari driver coaches flashed across his mind followed by the words “Well I still have” was highly amusing to both him and us!
You would expect any 16-year-old F1 hopeful to spend their downtime practising their signature, saying “For sure” and dreaming of their permanent number. But in another surprise, Beganovic hasn’t thought about it.
I chose #7 in Formula 4 and hopefully I will have it this year as well. In the early days of karting I was using #22 so I guess it is between those two numbers. Although I also really look up to Charles Leclerc so a second choice would be #16.
Of course, if Dino does make it to F1 in the next few years, it is highly likely Leclerc will still be racing so that won’t happen. We suggested #12 as he would currently be the 12th Swedish driver to make it to F1 and that number just so happens to be vacant.
Being one of the modern generation of up and coming drivers, Beganovic naturally has a racing rig in his bedroom. He’s running a Fanatec Clubsport Formula rim on a Clubsport wheelbase with the V3 pedals and triple monitors for display if you were wondering.
Dino races on iRacing where he has a highly impressive iRating and equally impressive win record. His preferred cars being the Porsche 911, Skip Barber, Formula 3 and racing in the IMSA series. If you fancy going up against Dino, Max Verstappen, Fernando Alonso, Lando Norris and many more, click this link to join Iracing.
So what does an up and coming racing driver do for his birthday?
I think I will celebrate my birthday with Marcus Armstrong and Arthur Leclerc on the bicycle.
Such a sensible head on such young shoulders! We wish Dino the very best of luck in his upcoming FREC campaign and we’re hoping to catch up with him later in the season to see how he is finding it.
Dino Beganovic In the Grandstand: Full Interview
You can watch our full interview here.