Oliver Bearman is keeping his focus squarely on himself after setting the fastest time in Free Practice at Monza. The PREMA Racing driver looked quick in the changing conditions, fast when the track was wet and as the circuit dried out to end up 0.048s over Isack Hadjar.
Although the results indicate Bearman has strong pace heading into Qualifying, and with three title rivals also inside the top five, the British driver isn’t letting himself get carried away. Speaking after Practice, Bearman believes that conditions will turn completely ahead of the session later on Friday, and the order could along with it.
“It was a good start to the weekend,” he said following the session. “Nice to be up there. But the track conditions were changing every lap so it's not so representative for Qualifying. But still, it's nice to know we’re there.
“It was quite interesting, the track was kind of half dry, half wet. So, you're kind of driving into the unknown every lap because it was changing so much. Different parts of the track were changing at different rates so you're kind of just guessing and you hope you guessed correctly. I really enjoy this track, it's always fun. It’s historic as well and the racing will be really cool. So I’m looking forward to the rest of the weekend.”
After making such a fast start to the finale, it’s difficult to not look ahead at what it could mean for the remainder of his weekend.
Bearman enters the final round of the season fourth in the standings and with a shot at becoming the 2022 Formula 3 Champion, although he will need results to go his way on Saturday to remain in the hunt.
A strong Qualifying position will certainly go a long way in helping his cause, though the PREMA driver was keeping his feet on the ground heading into the Qualifying session.
“Obviously there's a lot at stake. I'm trying to not think about it so much and just focus on doing the best job I can. Obviously Zandvoort was a really bad weekend, so it's not the best and we’re not in the best position. I'm just going to keep the job the same and see what we can do.”
Bearman’s Qualifying performances mean he has been one of the better drivers over a single lap of the Championship contenders. The PREMA driver hadn’t lined up on the grid outside of the top eight up until last weekend at Zandvoort, when a late Red Flag interrupted his final effort.
While another repeat of that performance would all but end Bearman’s hopes for the ’22 title, the Briton says he will not be engaging with any games during the session, instead focusing on himself and what he can directly influence.
“The track is obviously going to be massively different in Qualifying. Hopefully it's fairly dry, so we just need to focus on doing the job and not getting too bothered by the slipstream or the traffic.
“I’ll just get the laps in and see where we stand because at the end you just need to be out there on track and end up within the reverse grid to be up there for the races. It's not so difficult to overtake here so you need to make sure you there are there abouts in Quali and get the lap in.