Breaking the Formula 3 lap record at Spielberg, Alex Smolyar’s 2021 preparations took a serious step forward on Day 1 of pre-season testing as he gets set for his second season at this level with ART Grand Prix.

Becoming the first F3 driver to ever set a sub 1m19s lap at Spielberg, Smolyar’s experience showed around the Red Bull Ring, but the Russian racer says he was more interested in how the car felt to drive than the numbers he put on the board.

“Taking the fastest lap time, a track record for F3, feels great, but I know that testing laptimes do not mean as much as on a race weekend,” said Smolyar. “The most important thing for me is that we have a really strong base on the setup. It feels like we do, and now we can work onwards and adapt the little things.

“I personally feel like we’re more ready for the season than we were last year. I feel that I am at least. The benefit (of staying with ART) is that I don’t have to spend time getting used to new people, I am already in a little family, and I feel really comfortable.

“In terms of mental preparation, it is much easier. I really like the team and I really like to work with the people. ART are great, and I think we can fight this season.”

Smolyar broke the F3 track record at Spielberg on Day 1 of pre-season testing, lapping at 1:18.894

Finishing 11th in his rookie campaign, Smolyar is looking to add to the podium finish he took in Race 2 at Monza and build towards a title charge in 2021. Satisfied with the Qualifying simulations the team have done at Spielberg, his attention will now switch to other matters on Day 2.

“In F3, you have to go on track and put everything together in one lap,” he continued. “I think that I worked well on the qualifying simulations (yesterday). I worked a lot last season on my tyre management, how you can deliver, and how you can get everything out of the tyres.

“I worked really hard throughout the season last year and that probably showed a little bit on Day 1 here in Spielberg.

“We have some race simulations to do now, and I don’t think that I will focus much more on laptimes. Race simulations are just as important as qualifying, and we will look to find the right setup for the races and see how it goes.”