Hitech Pulse-Eight Team Principal Oliver Oakes believes Luke Browning can win this year’s Drivers’ Championship, as he also discussed how Martinius Stenshorne and Cian Shields are faring in their rookie seasons.

It has been a positive start to the season for Hitech as only they and current Championship leaders PREMA Racing have more than one race win so far this year. Those victories came in the Sakhir Feature Race with Browning, while Stenshorne came out on top in the Melbourne Sprint.

They head to Barcelona for Round 5 fifth in the Teams’ Standings on 78 points – seven points behind ART Grand Prix and Campos Racing in third and fourth, respectively.

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“F3 is interesting but different because you've got the three drivers,” said Oakes. “Obviously, Luke is doing very well, he has had a win and a podium and a bit on Martinius and Cian they are both doing a very good job.

“Obviously for Martinius, to get his first win in Australia and then get picked up by McLaren after that is also a really nice bit of momentum for the F3 team because it's already plain to see that Luke is doing a good job.

“He has sort of grown within Hitech, from GB3, his first year of F3 and now delivering in his second season. I'm really happy for him because he has worked hard, and Williams have stuck with him and given him the right platform to perform and that has been really important.”

Oakes says Browning is a more mature driver this year compared to his rookie season
Oakes says Browning is a more mature driver this year compared to his rookie season

Oakes believes Browning is a more mature driver in his second year, praising his abilities to take what is on offer and also to bounce back from his mistakes.

This has left Browning third in the Drivers’ Championship, eight points behind leader Gabriele Minì. Oakes is confident that if the Briton keeps doing what he has been doing, he could be in a strong position come the year’s end.

“You can do a really good job in your first season because a lot of things go your way or you can have a year where you show a lot of talent, a lot of speed but execution goes wrong, maybe you get a bit unlucky, maybe you get a bit eager sometimes,” said Oakes.

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“I don't think he would mind me saying last year he showed good speed but more often than not, he was trying to force it and it wasn't quite coming together.

“I think the big change for him this year is he understands the Championship more, the tyres, the 30 cars in Qualifying where there is always a Red Flag, and you can be on the wrong end of it, but you just need to keep your head together.

“I think that's the biggest change in him this year and I think from the team’s side, continuity really helps, having someone we know with us, who trusts us at the end of the day, he has wanted to stay with us, kept faith in us and it's nice to be delivering on that.”

Oakes also praised the progress of Stenshorne and Shields, especially with how difficult Formula 3 can be. He is hopeful that as they return to circuits they know well, they will begin to convert their pace into strong results.

Oakes is pleased with the progress made by the McLaren-backed Stenshorne so far this year
Oakes is pleased with the progress made by the McLaren-backed Stenshorne so far this year

“I think with the rookies, it's hard because some can come into it and everything goes their way Year 1,” he said. “For some it can be tougher, a lot of it I think with the 30 cars in Qualifying, if you end up P10 to P12 you have a great weekend and you get your confidence and your mojo and then you're on a bit of a bit of a roll.

“But that is the nature of F3 you have to handle that, and I actually think a lot of it is character building and it is clear to see the massive step forward Martinius took for Australia and actually in Imola while his Qualifying wasn't good, his race pace was mega.

“In Monaco we laughed because in Qualifying he was a bit unlucky with the Red Flags and in the races his pace was really good. You can see already that talent starting to shine through and as we get back to the Barcelona onwards you expect to see him delivering that week in week out.

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“Cian made a massive step forward for Imola, I think Monaco was tough for him, I think some drivers love street circuits, some take a bit longer to get up to speed.

“The biggest thing we try and do as a team with them is just ask them to stand back and look at the big picture, you are almost halfway through the season, you've still got six rounds to go and we are now going back to tracks that you know so it's a little bit easier, but also now that you know them everyone else knows them so that's the fun.”

So, as his drivers head to more familiar tracks, what are Oakes’ hopes for the rest of the season? With plenty to play for in both Championships, he is confident that his team can deliver, although he did acknowledge the strength of their rivals.

Oakes is confident that Hitech have the team and drivers to deliver in the remainder of the season
Oakes is confident that Hitech have the team and drivers to deliver in the remainder of the season

“We feel confident,” said Oakes. “We've got a good group of drivers, good engineers, got a good handle of the car and just have to every weekend execute well. But also, some days you can’t' get it right because certain things don't swing your way.

“It’s definitely tough, it's hugely rewarding when it's going well but there is also a weekend where you go ‘God that was hard’ because there are some things outside your control that can make it a little bit tough.

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“I think the Teams’ one is slightly trickier for us with not having two second-year drivers, there is quite a lot of heavy lifting for Luke to do but the main focus is everyone wants that Drivers' title, and he is in with a very good chance, and I believe he can do it.

“Like F3 always does, I can fully see it going to Monza, two or three of them close together because that is the nature of F3, but I hope before that we get some points on the board. As we have seen in F3 so far it ebbs and flows between the three or four drivers there and I believe that is going to continue to happen.”