Victor Martins was left with mixed feelings following the Qualifying session in Budapest which left him P8 on the grid for the Feature Race. The Championship leader displayed strong pace throughout the 30-minutes but was caught out by several factors that counted against him.
Traffic and a late red flag curtailed multiple flying laps for the Frenchman, several which he felt would have put him in the frame for pole position or there abouts.
“It was a tricky session to be honest. We were unlucky like I have been for many races in Qualifying but this one is tough to take because on every set of tyres, we had something go wrong or against us. For example, on the second set I got traffic in the last corner where I lost a lot of time. I was in the top four or five in the fight for pole, but I couldn’t put a good lap together because of that. Then on the last set there was a lot of traffic. I managed it quite well and I was on for a good lap, probably would have been fighting for pole with (Arthur) Leclerc but then the red flag came.
“I mean it is the same for everyone because in the end, nobody could do a lap time - there were three minutes remaining. It’s really frustrating because nothing is going in our direction in Qualifying since the beginning of the season. Every time we need to find time and could make things easier by not having issues with red flags or traffic.”
Left to rue what might have been following Qualifying, Martins refocused his attentions on both races and maintained a positive outlook on the state of play.
With Leclerc ending Qualifying P4 and Isack Hadjar in P10, the ART Grand Prix driver has his work cut out maintaining the lead of the Championship heading into the summer break. Martins will line up in eighth on Sunday and P4 in the Sprint tomorrow, behind one of his title rivals in both races.
“If you want to keep your mindset positive, you have to look at things in a positive way because in the end, Leclerc is only P4. He’s in front of me but he’s not on pole. He’s not in a good position I’d say to win the race and take a lot of points away from us. In every race, I want to beat at least one of my rivals, that’s what I did today so that’s a positive. But there’s another one in Leclerc that I didn’t beat but I want to keep positive and take as many points as possible from the weekend.”
With attentions turning to Saturday and with a watchful eye on the weather forecasts, there is plenty that could happen that could play a role in who leaves the Hungaroring with the lead of the Formula 3 Drivers’ Championship.
Martins is under no illusions that he will likely have his work cut out but will be spending plenty of time between now and lights out on Saturday planning for every eventuality and what tweaks he and the team could make to make up for Friday’s Qualifying result.
“I think there’s a lot of work to do tomorrow because of the conditions. It might be raining so we’ll have to plan for both dry and wet. In the dry, we know what we need to do for the race. On my side, I know what I need to do and how I need to approach the race. I need to be aggressive and take opportunities and all of those things.
“If it’s raining and in the wet, I think we need to analyse from the past years and find a good compromise on the balance. Also on my side, I need to look at where to put the car and what to do to be efficient. I’ll start P4 so let’s see how it goes. There will be good points to take compared to my rivals in the Championship.”