Luke Browning couldn’t have gotten his home race weekend off to a better start, as the Hitech Pulse-Eight driver topped Free Practice in Silverstone. Despite the satisfaction, he’s not resting on his laurels and believes that his familiarity with the circuit has seen him lead the pack, rather than playing catch-up.
Immediately demonstrating how comfortable he was, the British rookie went fastest of all early on and brought his best effort down to a 1:45.794, 0.182s quicker than Championship leader Gabriel Bortoleto.
Reflecting on the session, Browning is confident that all the pieces are in place for him to take a shot at a maiden pole position in front of the avid home support.
“Obviously, I’m super happy to be at the top of the times in Free Practice at my home circuit. I know this place like the back of my hand, so to be top of the times in Free Practice is great, but equally it’s not Qualifying. So, I’m keeping a level head and just doing a good top.
"A top three in Qualifying realistically would be a great result. A top five I’d still be happy with, but equally I think the possibilities are there to get pole. To get that this weekend, especially at my home weekend would be really special.”
Silverstone presents an opportunity for Browning to level the playing field in relation to both his fellow rookies and the returning drivers. Unlike most of the previous events, the British track is one that he’s more than well-versed with, having scored a podium there last year in GB3.
Although he may be a rookie in FIA Formula 3, he is one of the most experienced drivers this weekend around Silverstone. Browning says that his prior knowledge has given him the understanding on how to approach the circuit’s fast sweeping corners and demanding flat-out sections.
Whilst previous rounds have shown Hitech Pulse-Eight’s reliably strong race pace, Browning admits that his Qualifying has held him back from extracting it’s full potential, something he’s looking to rectify this time around.
“There are not many tracks that I’ve been to, having mainly raced in the UK in my career. Usually I'm playing catch up, but at this point, this the track that I know the best on the calendar. Equally, coming here we thought we were going to be strong and we were in Practice.
“So, I think the other drivers are sort of playing catch up to me at Silverstone, but when we went to Barcelona it was the other way around, so it’s swings and roundabouts. Silverstone’s super special and the high-speed confidence here is really, really crucial. The fans were out at about half eight this morning and I thought ‘wow!’. The British fans in the summer are really special and it was awesome to go to the Fanzone yesterday and the support for F3 is immense.
“Generally, we've been super-fast in the race pace this year, super quick. Qualifying consistency is where we've been lacking and it's somewhere that I've really been working on in my driving. To really open up my tool set to be able to attack every Qualifying at my best and no matter what the car balance is to get the most out of it so. We'll be looking to do that for this Qualifying at Silverstone.”
Buoyed by the passionate fan support, Browning isn’t shy in stating what his goal is – a triumphant home race victory! Nevertheless, after the frustration of earlier rounds and the four missed point-scoring opportunities, he remains pragmatic in his approach in taking it step by step, starting with Qualifying.
“The dream is obviously to win! I want to be at the top all the time, equally I understand this is my rookie year and I’m just focusing on the races and each corner by corner rather than looking at the Championship after each move I make, I think is going to be the way forward.
“I’m just after consistency now. I think that’s the lesson I learnt through the first half of the year having not finished probably up there with the most races. The pace has always been strong, but the consistency in racing and ironing out those rookie mistakes – that’s the main thing.”