Josep María Martí left no stone unturned in his mission to bring home points in Sunday’s Feature Race. After a heavy crash at the start of Qualifying relegated the Campos Racing driver to the back of the grid for both Melbourne Races, he went on and all-out offensive to take ninth at the chequered flag – and eventually promoted to seventh.
Evading trouble during the 23 laps of running around the demanding Albert Park Circuit, Martí admitted that he thought the weekend was going to be a write off after Friday’s disappointment. Pleased to see his efforts paid off with six hard-fought points, the Spaniard believes that the pace could have been there to have challenged those further ahead.
“It was good, a pretty crazy race, I’m just really, really happy with how the race turned out. On Saturday, we already made up by a lot of places with few laps of racing, but obviously you also have to have some luck to make up a lot of positions in the start. I managed to avoid all the crashes, avoid whatever was going on and tried to make up good positions.
“We had some Safety Cars, I had a clean start for once, which was good. I had a great start, a great first lap, had a great restart and then another great lap, it was just brilliant, really, really solid. The car felt amazing at the beginning of the race, after a bit then the tyres were completely burnt after I got into P10, so I couldn’t get close to Dino and the guys fighting for P4.
“I’m just completely thrilled to get back into the points. Obviously, it was a weekend which for us looked like we were going to get nothing out of it however good we did, and we managed to get six points. So, it was very solid, very happy with that.”
Starting down in P30, getting back up into the points was going to be a tall order, but Martí had already demonstrated his overtaking abilities with a P13 finish in the Sprint Race.
Taking what he’d learned from the Sprint into the Feature, the Campos racer was already up into P20 by the time the first Safety Car ended on Lap 6 and continued to make progress. Savouring his many overtakes, Martí says it was his move on Jonny Edgar for the final points-paying position on Lap 18 that really stood out as one of his best.
“Saturday was a little bit of a calmer race because we didn’t really have a lot of racing laps in it. With only four push laps you can’t really get a feeling of the balance, you can’t really know what you’re going to change, and you don’t know where to improve. What it did give me was a sense of where I could overtake and where I was stronger than people around me.
“Obviously, I threw everything out of the kitchen in Lap 1 trying to make as many places as I could. I think I gained four and on Sunday I gained seven, so very good. Same thing throughout the race, I felt really strong on the brakes and in the high speed, so I was just trying to get as close as I could in those areas and try to make as many moves as possible.
“The start was nothing special - the first few metres off the line I mean. I had to readjust the clutch myself in the second phase and try and overtake the guys ahead of me. Then I managed to get one off the line and one out of Turn 2, another one in Turn 5 or 6 and another in Turns 8 and 9. Then I got overtaken and then I did a double move into the second to last corner, so it was a pretty crazy first lap. The second lap I managed to get a move done with late braking, then the Safety Car came out, so it was quite thrilling.
He added: “I've always been a fan of late braking overtakes, like Daniel Ricciardo. My moves to get into the points obviously, after going up 19 places and fighting for the last point. To do a move around the outside of Turn 9, late braking and then having to defend into Turn 11 was pretty special. My engineer came on the radio before me on the main straight and was like ‘man, good job’ and I was like that was some overtake.”
Loving all that Formula 3’s first visit to Melbourne had to offer, the Australian circuit has certainly left its mark on Martí. Heading into in-season testing and Round 3 in Imola next month sitting fifth in the Standings, he’s upbeat about Campos’ potential for even more success.
“To be completely honest, I was quite certain that we had the pace after Free Practice sitting in the top five. I knew that we were going to be quick, but I didn’t expect us to be that quick. Straight from Free Practice I felt really confident with the track. It feels awesome, it’s so cool. It’s honestly one of my favourites, it’s nearing Silverstone and Barcelona, it’s just really, really fun on track.
“From a layout perspective, we didn’t expect this many overtakes to happen because obviously we’ve got a lot of high-speed corners, which normally doesn’t tend to promote racing. For some reason the tarmac and the car blended really well, and they allow for racing. It was an awesome experience.
“Going up 20 places, it’s nice, but at the same time it was just the whole race in itself. The only issues I had was dropping the tyres at the end and having less confidence in the car, but the car felt amazing. I’m super proud of the team and going into Imola really confident.”