Joseph Loake was in a jubilant mood after achieving P8 in Qualifying around Monte Carlo. It represented the best result of his rookie season so far, and the Rodin Motorsport driver was pleased with how things unfolded in the Principality despite a late Red Flag.

On what was his first visit to Monaco for a race weekend, Loake says it has been a tough learning experience, especially after a few tricky sessions in Qualifying earlier in the season.

“It's pretty awesome. It's been a lot of learning and it's been a pretty tough year so far,” he admitted after the session. “The first three rounds were very tricky, just wasn't quite getting the right in Qualifying. I was pretty excited to just drive the place, obviously Practice was very tricky, we didn't really get any laps in the dry, so it meant going into Qualifying it was going to be kind of an all-in session and that was what I did. I just put everything on the table, we gave it our all and we got a pretty decent result.”

The late Red Flag in Group B prevented any further improvements for the remaining runners in the segment. While Loake was one of those disadvantaged by the stoppage, the Briton was still pleased with where he ended up despite his feeling that there was very strong pace in the car and himself.

QUALIFYING: Minì takes his second Monte Carlo Pole

“As a kid growing up, I always used to watch Formula 1 and when there'd be a Red Flag right at the end, you'd hear them screaming on the radio all the time and now I understand why!

“When you get that Red Flag, your adrenaline is through the roof, your heartbeats, your heartrate is all the way up and you don't think about anything but getting everything perfect.

“I think we were probably quick enough for pole, but everyone would have improved. I don't really want to start saying ‘oh, we're the next big thing,’ but it's good improvement. I'm just so happy that we're finally starting to show the progression that the team and I are making.”

Loake enjoyed his strongest race result back in Round 2 in Melbourne, with the Rodin driver finishing 14th in the Sprint Race in Australia. Since then, the team has had in-season testing to find further improvements, and the rookie believes they have found pace since that result.

Loake was very satisfied with his Qualifying efforts and believes that the team has continued on an upward trend in Monaco
Loake was very satisfied with his Qualifying efforts and believes that the team has continued on an upward trend in Monaco

Asked where the main step forward has come from, Loake says there is no specific standout area, but a combination of factors have brought a clear increase in confidence at the wheel of the F3 car.

“I think the improvements have come across the board. I think if I was to go into depth, it’s just the overall balance of the car that is making it a lot easier to drive. It's not necessarily any weaker per se than what it was at the start of the year, especially in Qualifying-trim, but just being able to put the lap when it counts is so important in Formula 3.

“I think that's something that we just couldn't do at the start of the year and it's starting to get there now and the car’s a lot more compliant. I can do what I want to do with it a bit more and I think it showed today.”

"If we can just come away with points this weekend, I'll be happy"

Looking ahead to the remainder of the weekend in Monte Carlo, Loake says the priority is now on securing a good points haul to make their strong start count.

The opening laps will be about avoiding any loss of position according to the Briton, who is approaching the races with an attacking mindset rather than a passive one.

From there, Loake says he hopes to be able to fight for a podium in the Sprint Race, though acknowledged that the journey to the Monte Carlo podium is never going to be straightforward.

What to watch for: Key areas around Monte Carlo

“The races here are going to be quite tricky, but luckily, we've qualified well, so we shouldn't have to have to be trying to fight through the pack too much. I think we're where we should be so we'll look for opportunities, but if we can just come away with points this weekend, I'll be happy.

“Turn 1 will be chaos. It's gonna be pretty hectic, but I wouldn't expect anything else. The main thing is to stay out of trouble, make sure I don't lose any positions at the start and then just get myself right in the mix, making sure that I'm attacking rather than defending, that's the main thing.

“If we can get on the podium in the Sprint, I'd be over the moon. It’s a long shot, but you never know. It’s just about taking the opportunities where they come up.”