Competing in Asian Formula 3 during January and February with his new FIA F3 team Hitech Grand Prix, Roman Staněk is amongst a group of drivers who were lucky enough to enjoy some winter racing action, and he feels he’s all the better for it.
Coming up against Formula 2 racers Guanyu Zhou, Jehan Daruvala and Roy Nissany, as well as F3 rival Pierre-Louis Chovet, Staněk feels he’s given himself a head start in the lead-up to the new season.
“It was obviously in a different car, but I learned a lot and I got on well with the team,” said Staněk. “I think that it is always good to be in a car. It doesn't matter what the car is - F3 Asia, F2, F4. It keeps you in the right mindset and it keeps you fresh and focused.
“Some of the Hitech team who did F3 Asia should be at the F3 tests and I think that we will be on it because we will know what to expect from each other immediately. I hope that we can do well. I am ready to send it and I cannot wait to be back in the car.”
The Czech driver is gearing up for his second season at this level, and his pre-season preparations this time around are in stark contrast to his rookie campaign. Staněk was a late entry in F3 in 2020, joining Charouz Racing System on the eve of the season opener with zero testing experience.
The 17-year-old had been set to tackle the Formula Regional European Championship, but a late change-around - which he says was partly enforced by the Covid-19 pandemic - saw the opportunity arise to make an early step-up to F3, and it was one that he felt too good to turn down.
“When I got the offer to do F3 I was really happy,” he recalled. “We weren’t able to fight for the top five, but I learned a lot. The first season was difficult. I didn’t do any testing and I jumped straight into a race weekend, but I was pleased with how the first race went.
“The overall season was a big learning curve for me, but thankfully I had a good engineer at Charouz, Michiel Gommers, who helped me a lot. I think that getting used to the car in general was the most challenging part.
“In F4, we had two long free practices and then qualifying and three races. In F3, you get 45 minutes where you can maybe fit in five push laps and then you’re straight into qualifying. It was quite hard to adjust, but it’s the exact same in F2. It’s something that you have to get used to and a good way to learn.”
Despite the steep learning curve, Staněk says he’s both mentally and physically stronger for a years’ experience of FIA F3, and feels better equipped to challenge at the front in 2021.
“Mentally, I think I have grown a lot,” said Staněk “I am a better driver now as well because when I started in F3, I wasn't as experienced and I didn't know what to do in certain situations. But I learned so much about the car last year and I had a really good engineer. He was able to teach me all about the cars and he helped me a lot.
“This year, of course the goal is to win the title, but I prefer to lower the expectations and set goals that I know I can achieve first. Right now, the goal is top 3, and I think that is possible with Hitech, as long as we work hard and do the right things.”