While his pace over a single lap was strong enough to lead the opening session of the Budapest weekend, PREMA Racing’s Zak O’Sullivan believes the real test will come across a race stint. Formula 3 drivers are running new medium Pirelli tyres for this weekend, and the Briton says they have taken a bit of getting used to.
The Hungaroring has always been a track that punishes the tyres, and so despite his promising start to the race weekend, the PREMA driver isn’t fully satisfied. There were very few improvements as the session ticked by, with teams and drivers focused on maximising the tyre life across longer stints. That will be the key factor this weekend according to O’Sullivan.
“It wasn’t too bad, quite a busy session. We waited quite a while to go out and get our push laps in once the track was a bit cleaner. First time on the mediums this year as well on a race weekend so a lot of learning to do. The pace seemed quite strong across the board for the team, but we’ve got to see in Qualifying and the races because degradation seems quite high.
“The tyres are turning out to be very different. They’re the same colour and that’s about it I think. It’s the first time running them on a race weekend and the degradation seems quite bad. On one lap they last quite well but the race management is a bit more tricky. I think that’s kind of thrown a bit of a spanner into the works and caught everyone out a bit but let’s see. Everyone’s in the same boat so I’m looking forward to it.”
Also evidenced in the first session of the Budapest weekend was the notoriously narrow layout. Come Qualifying, the PREMA driver expects things to get busy once again, particularly in the final sector as traffic builds up to open a fast lap.
He is one of the drivers who has prior experience of Formula 3 at the Hungaroring to fall back on, something he aims to use to his advantage in the half hour session. It will be vital to find some clear air, as O’Sullivan says PREMA has made a positive start to the weekend and all three drivers appear to have strong pace to contend up front.
“It’s quite a busy track layout, lots of corners so putting together a lap is quite tricky. Also there’s traffic. Last year I remember it being quite tricky in Qualifying to get a real clean lap in, so we’ll see. Hopefully it’s a little bit better and we can avoid the queues in the last sector, but you never know.”
“Qualifying will be very important, as it is at every track really this season, the higher up you start the easier your life in the races is. Like most weekends, Qualifying is the focus for most of the grid.
“We’ll see, I think I’ll know where we are after Qualifying. As a team, we seem quite fast but I’m sure people will catch up for Qualifying and across the weekend.”