Josep María Martí wasted little time in the Feature Race and kept busy throughout, recovering from P13 on the grid to finish sixth at the chequered flag. The Campos Racing driver pulled off some brave overtakes to claw back the places, but believes he could have gone even better had things gone his way more.

Reflecting on the entire Budapest weekend after the Feature Race, Martí says that a top five result was on the cards at one stage. He also believes the team’s race pace was very strong throughout the weekend, even if the results don’t quite show the full picture.

“It was definitely a good race for us. To come back from 13th to points, which unfortunately we couldn’t get yesterday after getting taken out, I think it’s important for the Championship.

“Nobody made it easy for me today. I had to make a really good start at the very beginning and absolutely sent it into T4, because I had to get past the guys on old tyres so that came out well. The race wasn’t really smooth either way but I caught up with Nikola Tsolov and it took me a lap or two to get by him. From then on, I knew into Turn 1 the moves had to be full send.

“The moment with Gabriel Bortoleto was tricky. He moved late but fair into Turn 1 which surprised me and when I jumped on the brakes, my car was completely off balance with so much weight on one side having had to make a late move. My left side was completely unloaded so when I jumped on the brakes, the front left locked and I went straight on. I was still more or less able to save the tyre but from then on, it wasn’t the same.

“I managed to pass Gabriel and Leonardo Fornaroli, but the tyres weren’t the same. Without the lock-up, I think we could’ve been P5. So, it’s a bit of a shame but our pace in the races was probably up there with the top three, so it’s a shame to miss out on so many points.”

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While he was encouraged to have shown promising race pace and made so many overtakes, the result means Martí has slipped back to third, one point behind race winner Zak O’Sullivan.

Martí admits his weekend was over quickly after failing to qualify inside the top 12 on Friday. Unable to score in the Sprint Race after contact with Nikola Tsolov was another big blow to his hopes, but the Saturday race gave him all the info he needed for his Feature Race fightback.

“I wasn’t in the same situation as everyone else yesterday, but I think I’ve always been really good at managing the tyres. Yesterday nobody really knew where they were. Only Gabriel Bortoleto and Nikita Bedrin were going out on new tyres. But I felt I had so much pace yesterday but if I had a clean restart and got up to P8, we’d have been able to make up some more positions.

READ MORE: FEATURE RACE: O’Sullivan flawless in Budapest to ignite title challenge

“Now we’re in P3, one point behind Zak, it’s a bit of a shame because we came into the weekend 15 points ahead of P3 and we’ve lost the whole gap.

“I’m not angry about it, I know that this weekend we had more than enough pace to stay in second, if not open up the gap more to third. But things happen, things went wrong in Qualifying for us, I couldn’t really put a lap together and we made some mistakes as well. It’s not been smooth sailing all weekend unfortunately and after yesterday, today was all about pushing forward and trying to redeem ourselves and get some good points which I’m happy that we got to do.”

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With Bortoleto’s lead now up to 41 points, the chasing pack has precious little time to overturn the deficit. Martí believes that it will be almost impossible to mount a comeback in the remaining two rounds, but a lot of pride is at stake with several drivers battling to finish as runner-up.

Heading to Spa-Francorchamps, the Spaniard says that the top seven drivers all have a chance of producing a late-season charge up the Championship order, and he’ll be targeting better results than Budapest to secure P2 in the 2023 Standings. “I’m looking forward to Spa, it’s a track I know well, I’ll try to bounce back and put a good result on the table.

“I’m 99% sure that Gabriel has it in the bag, it’s easy looking at his results, he’s barely put a foot wrong. He’s doing a great season and that’s why he’s so far ahead. If I hadn’t made mistakes in Australia, Austria and in Qualifying here, I’d probably be five or 10 points behind him, but I’m not because I made mistakes. It’s a little bit of a shame but the title fight is probably done.

“At the same time, P2 is a really exciting battle, I think there’s six of us within about 50 points which obviously adds a little bit of pressure but I’m just really excited. I want to beat these guys more than anyone, I know what they’re capable and I think I can beat them. We have a good chance at Spa and Monza to do a good job, comeback and score some points, so I’m looking forward to it. We still have to be up there. I’ll make it hard for them.”