THOUGHTS FROM ZENDELI, POURCHAIRE AND BECKMANN
FIA Formula 3: Hello and welcome to the press conference with the top three finishers in Race 1 of this weekend's FIA Formula 3 Championship round here in Belgium. We are joined by race winner Lirim Zendeli for Trident, in second place is Théo Pourchaire for ART Grand Prix, and third is David Beckmann, also for Trident. Lirim, your first win in the FIA Formula 3 Championship. Just how special does that feel?
Lirim Zendeli: It's really special, especially because it was the feature race. It's a big thing for me. First pole yesterday, first win today. I think we've had a really good car over the weekend, and I'm just happy I got points. I think I've recovered quite a lot in the Championship and now I just look forward to keeping the pace.
FIA Formula 3: You fielded a few questions yesterday about whether it was a 'lucky' pole position, but certainly nothing lucky about today. You looked in total control. Was it that easy inside the car?
Lirim: It may look easy, but it was not to be honest. Théo had mega pace at the beginning and I had to floor it to stay in front. I knew that if we started fighting, maybe I would drop back and others would catch up. So, I just did my best to stay in front. We also had a good car for that, but good job to Théo at the beginning to push that hard. I think he just underestimated the degradation a bit maybe. I'm in my second year here, so I knew it a bit. But yeah. I'm just happy that we did it.
FIA Formula 3: Congratulations, well done today. Théo, moving on to you. Another podium to add to your tally, but as Lirim said, you didn't quite seem to have the pace for the whole race to challenge him.
Théo Pourchaire: Yeah, it was quite difficult. The start was okay. The first few laps I was quite fast. Then, with the DRS, it's easier for me. I could catch Lirim in the straights, but the pace was still really good. Sector 2 was not bad. Yeah, then the tyre degradation was quite high for me. Maybe I pushed a bit too hard at the beginning... well, I'm sure I pushed a bit too hard at the beginning! It was a long race, and I was P2 the whole race. Nothing really happened. The only thing was the tyre degradation. At the end, David was faster than me, so I was pushing hard to not finish in P3. I would like to thank the team because the car was really good. Trident is really got at this track and we have to do a bit of homework for tomorrow, but I think we can beat them.
FIA Formula 3: You say Trident are strong at this track, but there's no PREMA in the top three. Logan (Sargeant) looked like he had a bit of an issue finishing in eighth place. Does this feel like an important weekend in the Championship?
Théo: Yeah for sure. I need to score a lot of points, because my goal is to finish in the top three of the Championship. I can make it. It will be really hard because, again, David is scoring a lot of points in P3. He's still in front of me in the Championship. PREMA, I think, will be fast anyway in Monza and Mugello. I have to focus on myself, to win races, and to do the best result possible.
FIA Formula 3: Thank you very much. David, moving on to you. As Théo says, some more points. Another podium and continuing your run of always scoring. Just how happy are you with third place today?
David Beckmann: I'm actually quite happy because starting from P5, it's a good result to make the podium. Obviously, the Qualifying was not ideal yesterday. I also made some mistakes, so it was not the fault of the team. There were also special circumstances with the rain. But that was the same for everyone. I think I did the best I could today. I might have pushed a bit too much at the beginning, because in the middle of the race where Théo still had the tyres I couldn't catch him. I had problems so I had to change the brake bias and save the rears, which you do as a driver. I lost time with that. I had to slow down for two or three laps and then I could push again. Then, I was missing the four or five laps at the end to catch him more and more and overtake. It was still a good result. It's always nice to be on the podium with lots of good points. I don't know where I am in the Championship right now because I don't know where Liam (Lawson) finished.
FIA Formula 3: Liam was in ninth I believe, so you've moved up to third.
David: So, I've moved up to third now, but he will start from the front row tomorrow so he will probably score points. I'm quite happy. I've scored good points, not finished out of the top 10 this year. I'll try to keep that going, improve the car a bit tomorrow and go from there.
FIA Formula 3: It's very impressive consistency. You mention Liam's result, but you've finished ahead of all three of the guys that were ahead of you in the Championship before today. How do you rate your chances heading into the rest of the season?
David: It's not easy, because PREMA is always really fast. Especially in Qualifying where they have a good pace. But know you see, when you have a bit of bad luck in the Qualifying it's easier to head from the front. When I won here in 2018, I won from the front. It's quite nice because you have free air and you go. But, when you have to start in the middle of the pack, like maybe Oscar (Piastri) did today, it's not so easy. Like always, it's always the Qualifying. We will have a good pace in Monza, and especially Mugello I hope, because Trident is based not far from there. I really like those tracks, maybe because in the past I've been quite successful there. I guess we will have a good chance to at least get into the top three and maybe, if there's some good luck in the Qualifying and we score again a few more points than Logan and Oscar, we even have a chance to fight for the title. But this is always hard to say because there's so many things hanging on such an extreme field with so many competitors.
FIA Formula 3: We look forward to seeing what happens next. Thank you very much. Lirim, just returning to you. You've been ticking off the milestones this season with podiums, pole positions and now your first win. What's the target for the rest of the year now?
Lirim: Some were good, but I had quite a lot of bad luck in some of the past weekends where I scored no points. I think I had three weekends with zero points. That's what left me a bit behind. My goal now is just to keep the pace, score as many points as I can and recover. I don't know where we can finish at the end. I was quite far off the top five, but I'm aiming to be in the top five at the end. For sure, the weekends have to be as good as now. That's what I'm looking for.