Van Amersfoort Racing driver Reece Ushijima was thrilled with his Barcelona Sprint Race performance, earning the first Formula 3 points of his career. On a baking hot afternoon in Barcelona, Ushijima was able to battle with Isack Hadjar and Roman Stanek on the way to P9, a vital step in his rookie season according to the man himself.
“It's been a long time coming,” Ushijima said after the race. “The team has worked really hard over the months. I think I've worked quite hard. It was kind of a big jump from British F3 to here but, we saw the pace was there in testing and it was just about getting everything right on my side, like Qualifying.
“Although it wasn't perfect this weekend, being on outside the top 12, it was still good to fight back through and finally get some points.”
Particularly pleasing for him was the ability to gain insight from those around him during the race. Learning how to take care of the tyres and having close fights was a useful experience and one he says he took a lot from, despite being used to the frenetic racing in the mid-pack.
“I saw the replays after the race, what was happening at the front but having raced at the back, everyone's desperate to get up the order and finish in a high position. When I was racing at the back in the past couple of races it was a lot more difficult and there were a lot more incidents but now that I'm in a race with some guys at the front - like (Oliver) Bearman, he gave me a lot of room and it was fair, respectful racing. I have a lot of respect for him and all the guys up front. I enjoyed it out there.
“(The heat) was terrible. I'm driving down the straight, DRS open, going up the gears and I had a bit of sweat come down my face. I was so itchy, I needed to scratch it off but I just had to keep going.
“When you're around the guys at the front, you're trying to analyse what their tyres are like. We're looking at the screens on our dash trying to figure out how our tyres are a lot of the time, and these races you have to think three laps ahead.
“I was able to figure it out today and be in a fortunate position where I was able to think of all these things. But we just have to try to repeat it tomorrow.
"I always say to my mechanics ‘don’t worry, I’ll be in the points,’ and I finally got to be there"
“F3 is a lot about playing the strategic game and I think it just worked out for us today. It was a good step forward and hopefully we can make another step for the Feature Race.”
He also joked that he could finally hold one over his team having earned his first points in F3.
“Always my goal is the points. We are a bit far out to do the podium and I don't really have the experience to do that just yet. I always say to my mechanics ‘don’t worry, I’ll be in the points,’ and I finally got to be there and say I got in the points. So it's a good step forward, and hopefully, we can repeat it.”