Luke Browning is resolved to make the most out of every moment of his time on track at the second post-season test in Barcelona. Setting his intentions from the outset, the Hitech Pulse-Eight driver laid down the fastest time in the first phase of the morning’s running.
Despite improvements elsewhere, he returned to the top spot with a 1:27.055 inside the final 45 minutes of running to earn himself the top spot of the first day’s action.
Reflecting on his 63 laps completed, Browning says he’s not reading too much into the times given the varying run plans throughout the field but sees his one lap and race run form as a source of optimism.
“I’m sure everyone up and down the grid is testing stuff like we are, but it’s a good show of pace. It’s only testing, so we keep our head down. We’ve got plenty of things to test and plenty of stuff to learn, both for my driving and together as a team. It’s been a super valuable test so far.”
One of a handful of drivers from the 2023 campaign not to have participated in last year’s post-season test at Jerez, the Briton’s first taste of the Formula 3 car came at Sakhir pre-season testing, less than a month before the opening round.
Having dove straight into the Championship, Browning is fully appreciating how valuable this month’s six days of running across the Jerez, Barcelona and Imola test are. Provided with a chance to stop and reflect on how his rookie season unfolded, the Williams junior is eager to extract all he can and experiment with setups to find his sweet spot.
“It’s massive! Obviously, not doing the test last year, it was difficult to get up to speed. Being thrown into Bahrain, I look at it now with the experience that I’m gaining over these couple of days, and I think I jumped into the season this year without this. For sure, it’s a massive help. I’m grateful to be doing it this year and I’m looking forward to seeing how we do.”
Finishing 15th in the Standings on 41 points, Browning’s year proved to be rather hit or miss, with a second-place finish in the Barcelona Sprint Race remaining his standout result and only podium. Inside the #16 Hitech car, he showed glimpses of rapid speed, tenacity and his overtaking chops, but was unable to put together clean and consistently quick weekends on a regular basis.
When asked what he’ll be wanting to prioritise on the final day of running at the Spanish circuit, Browning is clear that self-improvement is top of his to-do list to address the weaknesses he’s identified.
“I think last year it was clear that the pace was there, but sometimes everything around that wasn't. That's what we're focusing on over the next couple of days, being able to really supply that one lap and focusing on the Qualifying side of things. Also, being a little bit smarter when you’re in correct situations and making the most of it.
“To be a champion it’s all about being the whole round package, not just being quick. But hey, we’re quick today, so smiles on our faces.”
Browning will be looking to go two-for-two tomorrow, with Day 2 of Barcelona’s post-season test getting underway at 09:00 local time.