Points might not have materialised for Kaylen Frederick in Budapest, but the ART Grand Prix driver is determined to take the positives out of Round 8 into the final two weekends of the 2023 Formula 3 season.
Follow the American racer’s thoughts throughout a challenging visit to the Hungaroring, with the team’s upturn in performance giving him a sense of optimism going forward.
“Definitely a pretty tricky session. Overall, I only actually did two full laps. On the first one, I overtook about a dozen cars during the lap, so my second push was really my only push. I was pretty happy with the overall pace. Obviously because I did so few laps, there are some easy places to find some lap time and with some quick improvements, we were pretty much easily in the top five and hopefully, the top three. It feels pretty good so far and the car feels good.
“The biggest things I learnt were the tyre warmup, just getting a feel for that with the new changed compound coming into this weekend. For the first time, we’re running it on a race weekend – we had it in the test, but seeing what we can do with the warmup and how to get the tyres in the right window with a bit of a colder temperature than what we’re used to. Also, just getting the car dialled in and working on the driving side, trying to get that all in the right window and everything. Unfortunately, we didn’t get that many laps, so there wasn’t much of that, but we’ll do whatever we can for Qualifying.”
“Again, very tricky! At the beginning, we were popping in some pretty decent laps, but at the end, I don’t think we quite had the balance we needed for the conditions. We were relatively quick in Sectors 1 and 3, but in Sector 2, both Grégoire and I were just missing the right balance. That attempt would have put us in the mix for the reverse grid pole for tomorrow, it was close. We just didn’t quite get the car in the right window and from my side, maybe I could have adjusted a bit better, but I think everybody could do that when the conditions are always changing.
“I think I was indifferent to the wet or the dry. Looking at Practice, we were pretty quick considering how many laps we had done and how much time there was to gain. I kind of wanted it to be dry just so that I could put those things together. Sometimes in the wet you don’t know what happens, maybe the balance is a bit different. Last year we had the two wet races, so I knew the lines and it wasn’t going to be an issue. In the last few events, whenever it’s rained, it’s dried out pretty quickly. So, I think we just figured it would be dry at some point anyways.
“The Sprint is going to be an interesting race because of these new mediums, they like to grain. I think everybody’s going to struggle with the graining, so from our side all we can do is deal with it the best way possible. Limit how much of it we get and try to save the tyres as much as we can. Some people will try to push early, some people will be saving so it’s going to be a little bit of a mess, but we’ll see what we can capitalise on.
“If you want to be quicker at the end, you’ll have to be a bit more conservative, but who knows if that will be quicker. You’re not going to want to push too much at the beginning, but at the same time it’s F3 – you can’t drive around at slow speed for the first few laps as you’ll end up in last, so there’s going to be a compromise.”
“The race pretty much went exactly how I thought it would go. Unfortunately, we got involved in a little contact on Lap 1 at the chicane, which dropped me back three positions. Then again, right after the restart I got involved in another contact where I lost two more positions. Maybe P10 was available to me if everything went my way, but starting from P16, you always know that it’s not going to be ideal.
“I think we did a good job, managed the tyres well. A lot of people pushed too much at the beginning, some people didn’t push enough and I think we had a good balance, we all seemed to manage it pretty well. Just a shame for Nikola (Tsolov) on the restart, but Grégoire and I were moving forward and Nikola was holding his position up at the front.
“It’s a long race. With the graining that we’re getting on these tyres, if you lose a few positions at the start, it really doesn't mean that much because they can just be pushing way too much and then you'll gain seconds back at the end easily. So, it was just about patience, making sure you're taking care of your tyres basically.
“I think a couple of people started on new tyres for the race, maybe trying to get some points. So tomorrow when we're on new tyres, those people that did their new tyres today might be struggling more so maybe there’ll be a few more positions to gain. It’s tricky, we had to capitalise on other people’s incidents, so that’s where we got a few places. If everything goes cleanly, it will be hard, but anything can happen in F3.”
“It was going pretty good for us until around Lap 9 or 10. We had a suspension failure that sort of came out of nowhere, I didn’t have any contact the whole race, so maybe it was on a kerb or something. Before that, I’d managed the tyres pretty well, my pace was looking pretty strong and it was very strong compared to everyone else around us. It was looking like we could move forward, but unfortunately, we had that issue and had to retire afterwards.
“The biggest lesson I take from the weekend is that I think we got our first feel for this medium compound at a race weekend. We’ve obviously driven with the new softs, but it seems like these mediums are even more prone to graining. Obviously, just some smaller bits to takeaway from Quali and the approach to the weekend that went well and some things that didn’t. The main thing was the tyres, getting that knowledge of the new compounds.
“We did seem to have a good amount of pace. Practice and Qualifying, we were quicker but wasn’t necessarily able to put it all together. We definitely had the pace in the races, just didn’t have amazing luck with either the contact or the mechanical failure, but it’s giving me some confidence heading into Spa."
“It’s one of my favourite tracks! It always has been, so I’m excited to go there. It’ll be the same compound again, so we’ll keep chipping away to keep working on all the bits that we’ve been working through this weekend. I got one of my first race wins in Europe there when I was racing in British F3, it was my first year racing over in Europe.
"I really like the track; it’s just got a great flow. It’s got some great high-speed sections, undulations, and elevation gains through the track. In terms of what we'll be aiming for, obviously just to get into the top 10 of the grid in Qualifying to get us into the points and then hopefully, we can keep up the same race pace that we had in Hungary. Then, maybe we can get some good results, so we’ll see, but looking forward to it.”