Brad Benavides is optimistic that the Hungaroring’s mix of tight high-speed corners could be the perfect match for him as he hunts down his first Formula 3 points in the sixth round of the season.

It’s been a tough rookie campaign for the Carlin driver so far. His best result came back in the Imola Sprint Race where he finished 14th, but since then he’s been unable to make the forward progress he would have been wishing for.

Entering the final round before the summer break, Benavides believes the Hungarian circuit will be well suited to his particular skill set – although a combination of the heat and wet weather could turn the weekend into a game of survival, which the American driver is eager to take full advantage of.

“It’s definitely going to be quite a warm weekend, but similar to Barcelona, there's a lot of tyre deg – not only thermal, but actually because the track is quite twisty,” he noted. “I really like the track to be honest. It’s really technical, you don’t have to be so brave for high-speed corners, maybe perhaps those like Turn 4. I think the track could be more of my forte so I’m really looking forward to that and then surviving the heat!

“Looking back on Austria, how the wet race went there, wherever you started is sort of where you finished. Imagine if I did a P12 lap, which would be until now my best Qualifying – starting on reverse grid pole in wet conditions, it’s probably going to stay that way. It’s a hard track anyway to overtake on. It wouldn’t be so catastrophic if I started on pole in the wet.”

default image

The 4.381km circuit might be one of the shortest on the F3 calendar, but it also forces the drivers to be clever and calculated as they utilise the DRS zones to their advantage. While Benavides doesn’t think the field will recreate some of the games Formula 1 drivers have previously used, he’s got no doubt what the best plan is to stay in front at a track with a limited window of opportunity to make a move stick.

“There’s one DRS detection zone for two DRS zones. It's quite tricky. Looking back on last year's race, there weren't a lot of overtakes into Turn 1 nor into Turn 2, but those are basically where the two DRS zones are. The ideal spot is Turn 1 because then you have DRS out of Turn 1 even if you're in front. Other than that, there’s not really other places that are very convenient.

READ MORE: INTERVIEW Saucy confidently aiming for a return to the points despite wet weather uncertainty

“Even if you're half a second or one second slower than the guy behind you and you’re doing it on purpose to keep him behind you, you’re pulling down the tyres. So, you prepare in Sector 3, drop them off a little bit off there and then he won’t be able to catch you into Turn 1 or out of it.

“Maybe if it were something like Spa then yeah, but here definitely not. If you’re doing that strategy, holding them back into Turn 3 until the end of Sector 2 and then pushing in Sector 3 to drop them off at the end of the sector to have a good run into Turn 1, it’s really tricky! Even if you have DRS, it’s quite hard, you could see it with the first nine laps last year.

“If you're holding him back into Sector 1, Sector 2, you sort of have your opponent in the window that you can control. You know that you're going slower, but he can't do anything unless it was like a mad lunge into the chicane. After the second DRS zone, you can literally have whatever pace you want and still be the leader.”

default image

Determined to bounce back after a challenging double header in Silverstone and Spielberg, Benavides is hoping that he’s banished an unfortunate run of luck in order to be able to show fully what he’s capable of in Budapest.

“Silverstone was tricky for me because I had issues in Free Practice and Qualifying. It's a really tough Championship. You only have three push laps in Practice and then go directly into Qualifying where you get two pushes on the first set and one on the second then you’re done. I had an unfortunate Free Practice because I had a mechanical issue with the car, so going into Qualifying I lacked confidence and didn’t really do a good Quali.

“In Austria, the Red Flag really compromised our Qualifying because my lap got deleted on the first set. Then on the second set, the first push lap I got on the board wasn’t very competitive and that Red Flag really compromised our race. Only time will tell when I have, statistically speaking, a very good and lucky weekend, plus I have to put it all together.”