After running second in Free Practice, Victor Martins was disappointed to find himself down in 12th after Qualifying, but the upshoot is that the MP Motorsport driver will now start from reverse grid pole for the first time with pace to burn.
Martins is fourth in the standings and battling to finish as the Championship’s highest place rookie, but he struggled to find his rhythm in a messy Qualifying session, only just beating Roman Stanek to a spot in the top 12 by 0.018s.
“I didn't do the job, but I know where I can improve,” said Martins. “I am on reverse pole for the first time and that's a new experience for me. I haven’t started from pole this year, so I will see how it goes.
“I didn’t manage my run very well on the first set: I was a bit out of sequence, I made some mistakes at the beginning and then I got stuck in traffic. I couldn’t put a lap together and was quite far down he field.
“I know that we have the pace because In Free Practice, me and Caio (Collet) were one and two, but I wasn’t feeling great in the car. I know that the car had enough to be in the top five, or even the top three, though. I have had some really good race pace this year, so I am just looking forward now and hoping to have a good start.”
A fair few in the field struggled to warm up the hard Pirelli tyres and Martins admitted that he’s still unsure how they’ll perform in the race this evening.
“No, I still don't know how things will go with the tyres, but I do feel that we have made steps forward on tyre management during the season,” he continued. “I have allowed myself to push a lot at the beginning, managed them in the middle and then pushed again at the end.
“I will see, but maybe I will have this mindset again and push a lot at the start from the front of the grid. I am not sure we will have much tyre deg, maybe some thermal degradation, but in the end, if you drive clean, then you should be okay. “
Martins is 30-points clear of his MP Motorsport teammate Caio Collet, who is the next best first-year in the Drivers’ standings, in P8. And although the Frenchman wants the rookie crown, he says his attention will be elsewhere in Race 1.
He added: “(Points) are always important for sure, especially now that we are in the final round, but I don't want to focus on that because I was maybe too focused on that in Qualifying, trying to control things, and not driving on instinct. In Race 1, I want to go in with a clear mindset, to look forward, and show what I can do.”