It was a well-earned point-scoring finish for Sebastián Montoya in his Formula 3 race of 2023. The Hitech Pulse-Eight driver drove a measured race from 14th on the grid to achieve a point to open his account for 2023.
While there were thrill and spills happening up and down the field, Montoya kept himself out of trouble, his car in one piece and moved through the order. Following two Safety Car periods, his P10 finish in the Sprint Race was a hard-fought result and one that he says proved his and his team’s potential for 2023.
“Actually I think it was very good,” Montoya said of his maiden race. “I was really happy with the speed to be honest. The test we used a lot as a learning experience and didn’t really show or try to go as fast as we could.
“Qualifying was a little bit of a disappointment because we had a little bit of an issue on the last lap and that dropped me away from the top five to P15 before the penalties. But it was an interesting one, the race start wasn't good either because someone stalled in front of me, so I had to avoid them. Then I got a lot of wheelspin, got passed by like four people and then I when got into Turn 1, I got a sandwiched. And then after all that was over, I was like, ‘okay, we’re quick.’
“I want to say thank you to the team, my other sponsors that supported me because it was honestly a really good race, it was very entertaining, and it really kept me on my toes. I pushed towards the end, and I was able to get top 10, which was really good. It just shows how much pace we have and hopefully tomorrow with a good start, we can go even further.”
Keeping out of trouble proved difficult even after the initial race start. With two Safety Car spells during the race, the pack remained bunched up throughout the Sprint. Race leader at the time Franco Colapinto opted to launch into the restarts late on both occasions in order to preserve his lead and eliminate as much of a slipstream as possible.
That left the pack behind him bunched up with everyone eager to catch out their rival ahead. The Colombian says that it made for a good race, with drivers respectful enough to keep things clean in wheel-to-wheel battles.
“It was very difficult especially with Franco going so late. That kind of caused everyone to clutter up at the back. But the good thing is that everyone races really aggressively, but we were all clean. I had a little contact with Christian Mansell and when he saw me after the race, he’s like, ‘Man, I'm so sorry, I was trying to give you a little bit of room. I got a little snap on and hit you.’ So that was fine. Honestly, it's difficult to manage but it's easier to manage when you're a little bit quicker. This time we were a little bit quicker and hopefully we can be like that the rest of the year.”
Focusing his thoughts on the Feature Race on Sunday, Montoya expects that the pace at Hitech Pulse-Eight will carry over and present the chance at more points in the longer event. His experience battling those in the points has given him confidence to push for another scoring result to add to the tally at this early point in the season.
“More points, hopefully. Today was a scrap but we were still able to get up there. I think there's no reason why tomorrow we can’t do the same. Considering we were racing with the people that qualified in the top five and were passing them, that really shows the pace we have and hopefully tomorrow we can do the same. We just have to get a good start, keep ourselves clean for the first couple laps and that's towards the end, just attack.”