After two flyaway rounds in Sakhir and Melbourne to start the season, Luke Browning currently sits at the top of the Drivers’ Standings, tied with Trident’s Leonardo Fornaroli.

His 37 points have all been achieved in the Feature Races with the Hitech Pulse-Eight driver taking victory at the season-opener in Sakhir before crossing the line at Albert Park in P4.

Looking at the Sprint Races, he was penalised for leaving the track and gaining an advantage in Bahrain, dropping him out of the points, before a mechanical issue meant retirement in Australia.

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However, as he reflected on his start to the year, he was still positive in his assessment of things although he is keen to improve his form in the shorter races.

“I’m pretty happy with the first two rounds,” started Browning. “Obviously, maximising being the most consistent in the Feature Race is what has got us there and ultimately qualifying has been pretty consistent too.

“I think the main thing going into the rest of the season that we want to work on is scoring points in the Sprint Race. I think the first time was inside my control but pretty unlucky and the second time unfortunately was completely out of my control with the mechanical issue.

“But it's one of those things and I think these points are going to be important towards the end of the season, so we've got to make sure we are maximising these Sprint Race as much as the Feature.”

Browning won the Sakhir Feature Race to start the season
Browning won the Sakhir Feature Race to start the season

While leading the Championship is a positive sign, what will also please Browning is the progression he has shown from his rookie season. At this stage in 2023, the British racer was 10th in the Standings having scored just 14 points.

When asked what has changed for him this season, Browning replied: “I think the big progression has come from - last year I was so underprepared, massively so. I did no testing in the cars, I didn't expect to be driving in the Championship.

“Whereas this year I've had all the preparation, with Macau, and I've done all the testing and I think that is showing. The second-year experience obviously helps but I think the biggest thing is just having raced on all the circuits before.

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“Previously I hadn't and maybe the guys from Formula Regional had raced on them or the those that had done Italian F4 which I only did one round of so it's a bit difficult hopping into Europe and having to get on it.

“But ultimately, it's not taken us long and the learning curve has been quick. We are just learning more and more as we go along. I think that’s both the team’s understanding of me and my understanding of the team and how we communicate to get better.

“That's what is really strong I think, our connection within the team, how I relay what I like as the driver and what is optimal for the car at each circuit, I think is what is allowing us to be consistent or consistently at the front because that’s what you need to do in this Championship.

“If you are consistently qualifying in the top four, top five, you are going to be there in the Championship fight and that's what we have been doing really.”

Browning says he and his Hitech teams connection is very strong
Browning says he and his Hitech team's connection is very strong

Browning also attributed part of his form this season to winning the 2023 Macau Grand Prix. He says that the victory took the “monkey of my back” and proved he could win races in F3 machinery.

He called it a “relaxer” and believes this has made him calmer heading into race weekends as now he does not need to try too hard and risk making mistakes. But that result is in the past and his attentions will be on what is next which is the in-season testing in Barcelona from April 16-19.

“We'll be doing a lot of testing in Barcelona,” states Browning. “I think the times are never too representative in testing because everyone is trying stuff. But for sure we are as well, we will be trying different setups for different tracks that we want to go to throughout the year, maybe some different philosophies that we want to explore.

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“Also, driving-wise, working on my own driving stuff because Barcelona bar last year was a circuit I had never raced at and its somewhere where a lot of people had done laps and laps around and the testing helps me catch up in those terms.”

As for the Championship fight heading into the European leg of the calendar, Browning concluded: “It’s so difficult to predict this Championship, it's always so tight but I think the last two rounds the second-year drivers experience really showed in the Feature Race.

“But that is exactly what F3 is, you've got to turn up and be on it and that experience helps. The way the top four finished in the Feature Race are now the top four in the Championship and we will probably be fighting there for a while.

Browning is looking to remain consistent in the battle for the title
Browning is looking to remain consistent in the battle for the title

“But things always happen. Look at Dino Beganovic in Round 1, things don't always go to plan, and this often brings other people in. If you look at Tim Tramnitz, he did a great job in the first round, not just scoring points but not making mistakes and making the most of the opportunities he had.

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“For a rookie driver to come away only four points behind me, who won the race, was pretty good considering that he qualified seventh, so he did a good job.

“That sort of mentality throughout the year, like it's okay to qualify P5 and to finish top five in both races and I think on average if you score about 17 points a round you are going to win the Championship. So that is the aim, consistency and that is something that I didn't take into account last year.”