Jenzer Motorsport's Max Esterson was pleased with his sixth-place finish at the Sakhir Sprint Race. The American driver also revealed what he learnt in the 19-lap dash that he can take into Saturday’s Feature Race.

Having placed 10th in Thursday’s Qualifying session, Esterson lined up third once the order of the top 12 was reversed for the Sprint Race.

He kept the position at the start and was in a battle for the lead with ART Grand Prix pair Nikola Tsolov and Laurens Van Hoepen.

SPRINT RACE: Lindblad battles through for first win of 2024

However, as the race progressed, his rivals behind him closed the gap with Arvid Lindblad, Leonardo Fornaroli and Tim Tramnitz all eventually making their way past Esterson.

He was then left in a close tussle with PREMA Racing’s Gabriele Minì for P6, but Esterson held off the Italian driver’s challenge following a drag race to the end that saw him cross the line just 0.004s ahead.

Reflecting on his day behind the wheel, he said: “The first five to 10 laps were pretty tame for me. The first two ART cars were fighting a lot, so I was able to stay close behind.

“But it was really too close, so it was kind of killing my tyres a bit. But I wasn't really quick enough to overtake and as they battled the guys behind caught up and it hurt me a bit because my tyres were really damaged at that point.

Esterson came under pressure Lindblad Fornaroli and Tramnitz during the race
Esterson came under pressure Lindblad, Fornaroli and Tramnitz during the race

“I really had to hold on for the last 10 laps or so and then obviously I got passed at Turn 1 by Lindblad and I almost lost the car on the straight.

“I held on but lost a few spots and then from there I was just managing, trying to stay in the DRS and then I had really good fight with Minì at the end for the last two laps. We left each other a lot of space and it was really good.”

Talking through the battles with Minì and the rest of his rivals, the American said: “It's nice to not be pushed off. I thought everyone was very fair. Easily a lot of those overtakes could have ended in a crash especially in Turn 4 where everyone was battling so yeah it was good fun.”

READ MORE: Zagazeta handed grid penalty following Sakhir Sprint Race

It was Esterson’s first points in Formula 3, with the American driver having taken part in two rounds last year at Silverstone and Budapest.

Comparing those events and the Sakhir Sprint Race, the 21-year-old said: “It's a big difference when you are not in the mid-pack or at the back, you have more of a chance in the race.

“When you are in the mid-pack, there is not much you can do really. You can see the top three we all had the fastest lap times as we were alone at the start for the first 10 laps. So, when you are in the middle your pace is dictated by the guy in front of you and it's hard to pass.”

Esterson is keen to improve his tyre management during the Feature Race
Esterson is keen to improve his tyre management during the Feature Race

Esterson’s attentions will now turn to the Feature Race on Saturday. He remains optimistic of scoring points given the strong pre-season test he and the team enjoyed in Sakhir as well as their performance in the Sprint Race.

Even before debriefing with his engineers, he has already keyed in on tyre management as an area of focus going into tomorrow.

Esterson highlighted Lindblad’s stint where he ran in clean air, and he believes that helped the PREMA rookie preserve his tyre life and gave him the opportunity to get the victory at the end.

READ MORE: 2024 Round 1 post-Qualifying press conference

He is hopeful of replicating that same plan tomorrow when he lines up in 10th, with his targets set on another points scoring result.

“Starting 10th, so to stay in the points that would be good,” said Esterson. “I think maybe I need to save a bit more tyre at the start. Easier said than done because you have everyone attacking you at the start.

“But if I can try to hold on a bit and maybe not be so close to the car in front like at the start, I could save the tyre a bit more.”