Victor Martins’ title challenge started strongly in Sakhir as the Frenchman won the opening Feature Race of the weekend to put himself at the top of the Drivers’ standings.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for the ART Grand Prix driver, though, as he was forced to retire from the Sprint Race after a collision with his teammate Grégoire Saucy.
Martins takes control of the first Guest Column of the season to pen his thoughts on what he learned from the ups and downs of Round 1.
ONE GOOD POINT – WINNING THE FEATURE RACE
I think that the best part of the weekend has to be winning the Feature Race. Last year, I did not score so many points in the main races, so I think that it was positive to score big points in the Feature Race straight from Round 1.
This is a good improvement and something that I need to keep up for the Championship. It was also good to come back from the incident in the Sprint Race where me and my teammate Grégoire Saucy collided. It was important for me and the team to score the 25 points from that race to start the season well for the Championship.
ONE BAD POINT – THE COLLISION IN THE SPRINT RACE
I would say there that there were too bad points, but the biggest one was the crash in the Sprint Race. I don’t think that I pushed in the right way, maybe I was a bit too aggressive and impatient. The winner of the Sprint Race only gets 10 points, so thankfully we didn’t lose out too many points there, but I do think that we could have had a podium.
I’m sure that we would have had the opportunity to score a podium – or at least five points - so that is a bad point from the weekend, but it is something that I can improve on and focus on for the next races.
WHAT I LEARNED – THE IMPORTANCE OF FREE PRACTICE
I learned a lot of things, to be honest. I have seen that if you struggle in Free Practice, you pay the price in Qualifying because you are not ready – you can’t put a perfect lap together.
Another thing is the level of aggression: you need to think about how you push and find a good level of aggressiveness. For sure, in the Sprint Race, I didn’t manage this well.
Maybe I wanted to be at the front too fast and I should have waited a bit of time. Maybe I should have backed off on the level that I was pushing to see how things were playing out in front of me. I think that I was too impatient, but that is something that I have learned from.
I have learned that you need to be ready right from Free Practice, from your very first lap. You can build up from there and be ready straight away in Qualifying, and from there you can build your confidence throughout the weekend.
FANS MAY HAVE MISSED – AN AWKWARD POST-RACE DEBRIEF
We can laugh about it now because the result was there in the Feature Race. But for sure, the atmosphere after the Sprint Race wasn’t the best in the team, with my teammate Grégoire.
We didn’t speak to each other for four or five hours after the race – I didn’t even look at him in the eyes. On my side, I was upset with what he did, but then we spoke about it together afterwards and we laughed again.
We spoke to each other and said that if we are at the front then we need to help each other and work together with the team – it is not one guy on one side and the other guy on the other side, we are a team. I think we managed really well to make the most out of this situation, to come back stronger and to be back at the top together.