Driving over 200 laps over the course of the three-day Abu Dhabi test, Martins says that the learning curve between the two machines is a steep one. The Frenchman was one of the F3 drivers at the test that had prior experience of the Yas Marina Circuit, something that he says helped him adapt quickly to the new car.
“It was just an amazing experience to be honest. I was really looking forward to driving this car for a long time. Even during the F3 season I was already thinking about it. To get a first taste here in Abu Dhabi - I love the track as well. I knew it from the past, not with the new layout but it was interesting to see how it was.
“Also, to just really discover the car, get a feeling with it and working with the team, it was good. We were working on understand everything, as many things as possible. Tyre warm-up, tyre deg in the race sims, how the carbon brakes also are working. So, these kinds of things as well as strategy, planning and all these things were, I would say not entirely new but almost in some parts.”
The largest differences between the two cars are threefold according to the driver himself: braking, aerodynamics, and power. Experiencing the stopping power with the heavier F2 car was the first thing that stood out to Martins.
That, paired with the 3.4-litre V6 Mecachrome engine, were the factors that took his attention right away. Experiencing the step up in aero performance was the other main difference that stood out to him around the fast sweeping sections of the Yas Marina Circuit.
As evidenced by his session-topping time in the morning of day three, all three elements were well in hand by the conclusion of the test.
“I would say the brake efficiency is the biggest difference. Power is - the turbo is nice I would say but I think that it’s more the brakes and the efficiency on the braking side that’s a big difference. It does a lot more in terms of power you have in the braking zone and how late you brake, you brake really late.
“Then in the proper low and medium speed corners, it's not such a huge difference to F3 but I will say in the high speed, it's quite fast. Sector 1 here was really nice to drive. I’d also say I really enjoyed the work around the turbo, how it works and how to get the best out of it as well as the brakes.”
After his second F3 campaign culminated in the Championship success at Monza, Martins’ time in the F2 car were hugely valuable according to the Frenchman. He finished the third and final day with the fastest time in the morning session, but one-lap pace wasn’t the only focus throughout the event.
Race strategy and tyre management also took up plenty of Martins’ run plans with ART. Balancing the prime and option tyres was a tough task for the reigning Champion, but one he feels he managed by the end of the third day. Overall though, the F3 Champion was happy to have experienced the F2 car and achieved what he managed in just three days of running.
“I think just to extract the most out of the car in Qualifying sims, also to understand how to get the tyres into the window properly and then have the confidence to push on the limits. Obviously, it's testing so you don't want to do a mistake but at the same time when you want to compare to everyone and enjoy a good laptime, getting everything ready for your push is hard and to use the maximum of the car is another tough challenge.
“In the race, it’s quite long. I’ve done a simulation of a Feature Race with a pitstop. It’s more about the planning and the strategy, there’s a lot of things to do compared to Formula 3. Practice starts - the procedure isn’t the same as F3, so I was getting used to it and every time I did it again, I was understanding a bit more.
“I felt like I was getting there and getting the feeling mor and more naturally, so I could move on and focus on something else which was nice. It was nice to keep everything I will say simple, as simple as possible at least and try to be focusing on enjoying every moment.”