Juan Manuel Correa is aiming to return to the podium for the first time since 2019 on Sunday when he lines up in fifth place for Race 3 at the Sochi Autodrom.

Correa achieved his best Qualifying result of the 2021 FIA Formula 3 season on Friday, ending the session just over two-tenths of a second down on pole-sitter Jack Doohan.

The Ecuadorian-American driver last achieved a top-three result two years ago while competing in the Formula 2 Sprint Race at the Circuit Paul Ricard.

The ART Grand Prix racer is aiming to amend issues that arose during the Race 1 on Friday, in which he finished ninth after starting eighth, which could allow him to challenge the front of the field.

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Correa will start from fifth in Race 3 on Sunday
Correa will start from fifth in Race 3 on Sunday

“I would really love to get a podium, but the guys around me are very strong as well,” Correa said. “I’m approaching it as the final race of the season. I’m going to give it everything. Hopefully we will fix the issues we had yesterday in Race 1 and have a bit better pace.

“But we should be good to be fighting up there. We’ll see what comes. Even if I finish fifth I will be happy, just to close out strongly. But I will definitely have some risky moves, see what I can do and hopefully get into the top three.”

Correa’s Qualifying result in Sochi marked just the second time this year that the 22-year-old has ended the session inside the top ten – the previous occasion was in France, where he was classified in ninth.

Having believed that he has possessed the pace to make a notable impact in Qualifying for a number of rounds, Correa admits that being able to display his one-lap pace in Sochi came as a relief.

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Correa finished Race 1 in ninth
Correa finished Race 1 in ninth

“To be honest, the lap felt OK, but it did not feel like I squeezed everything I had,” Correa said. “But it was good enough for P5.

“Obviously I was very, very happy. I’ve been saying for a long time that we have the potential to be there, but it’s just been a different number of factors why we’ve been so far back in the last few races.

“To put it on paper, for me it was a big relief. I felt like I could breathe again. It definitely changes your whole weekend, when you’re starting inside the top ten, you really see where you’re at. If you’re still able to be there and finish consistently, it just makes your life easier. So I’m ecstatic with how it went.”