Thoughts from Doohan, Martins & Smolyar
FIA Formula 3: Congratulations to the top three Qualifiers for Race 3 of the FIA Formula 3 Championship here at Spa-Francorchamps. Qualifying in third place, Alex Smolyar for ART Grand Prix, in second, Victor Martins for MP Motorsport, and on pole position for the first time in his FIA Formula 3 career, Jack Doohan for Trident. Jack what does this pole mean to you, and to do it at a track like Spa as well?
Jack Doohan: It means a lot definitely, very happy to get the pole. It's been a long time coming this season, there's been a few things not really working out with traffic, and missing out by six thousandths in the first round. Very happy to get it, especially here at Spa with the challenging conditions and the way the circuit is, it's very thrilling and on the limit and you have to give it everything. With the one lap at the beginning there, knowing there was probably some rain coming, I gave it my everything and luckily it paid off.
FIA Formula 3: Let's talk a little bit more about the conditions, how difficult was it to nail the lap right at the beginning?
Doohan: It was at one point maybe the only lap we were going to get with the conditions as they were. You want to go as quick as you can, but you don't want to ruin the lap because the conditions might get wetter and then you can't get a banker lap in. I had quite a big moment up into the breaking zone at Les Combes when both wheels locked but other than that it was quite calm and collected and luckily my Sector 2 was quite mega which then enabled me to have a good gap to the rest of field.
FIA Formula 3: How calm and collected were you in the closing moments as the track was drying out. Were you worried that someone was going to put a lap together that was going to challenge pole?
Doohan: Definitely, I thought with it drying out that people were going to go quicker, but I thought there was no reason why then I couldn't go quicker either. At that moment in time, being quickest on the first lap I was obviously worried that people were going to go quicker but I just had to have faith that I could go quicker as well and there's no reason why I couldn't regain pole.
FIA Formula 3: Jack, final one from me, let's talk about the Championship. P2, 63 points behind the leader Dennis Hauger, who is starting in 14th on Sunday. Do you see this as a huge opportunity for you?
Doohan: Definitely! Obviously it's only Qualifying so I'm thankful for Sunday's Race but we know how quick the PREMAs are in the race conditions. I will just focus on myself and make sure I do every session to the best of my capability and then the end result will be what it will be what it will be, as long as me and the team have done the best we can do for the remainder of the season then we have to be satisfied with that.
FIA Formula 3: Thank you Jack. Victor coming to you, many congratulations on you front row start. How difficult were the conditions when you put that time in towards the end of the session?
Victor Martins: It was pretty hard with the position on the track, obviously there were a lot of cars in front of me so when I saw that it was starting to rain again I think we all started to push and wanted to put a lap together. At the beginning to be honest I was just following the cars in front because I couldn't really overtake them, then as soon as I got a gap I could put a really good lap together so it's P2, but you always want more. At the end when it started to rain you still want to push, then we had to box, it dried again at the end of the session so it's quite hard to believe that you could improve. Actually as Jack said, it's the belief you can do it even if some drivers were improving. It was quite hard, you need to push hard but still stay on the track.
FIA Formula 3: How difficult have the preparations been for the races this weekend because, we've had such mixed conditions so far?
Martins: It was obviously tricky to prepare for this race weekend, because when you come to Spa you never know what will be the forecast. You always prepare for dry, but you always need to also prepare yourself. It needs to be clear in your mind what you have to do with the line, how you need to adapt to the car, but at the end it's all the work and preparing that you do before every race weekend and you need to adapt like all the others.
FIA Formula 3: Victor the last five races have been difficult for you, so what are the goals this weekend?
Martins: I think the goal now is to take things session by session. I used Free Practice this morning just to learn as much as possible because we didn't test here compared to the other tracks. It's about getting the experience, getting the feeling with the car to give the right information to the team. Then to move to Qualifying, to take it step by step and not hope for anything like I did in Barcelona or Paul Ricard. Just to be flat out to, to push, to do the best I can do in every session and to give the right feedback to the team.
FIA Formula 3: Thank you Victor, Alex coming to you now, you were one of the few to improve right at the end of the session. How on the edge was that lap?
Alexander Smolyar: It was, Sector 1 and Sector 3 were really good. It was really hard to improve in the end, I knew that my lap time was not great so I had one or two laps where we could improve. It felt like Sector 2 was a bit slower than in the beginning of the session so I knew it would be a bit hard for pole maybe, but I did the lap clean and continued pushing and then the next lap was one of those laps that feels like it's the one to fight for pole. Unfortunately a red flag came out so it's a shame that I lost out, the same as in Red Bull Ring, where I was also P3. I lost seven tenths, it might look like its a lot, for me it's not much because the conditions were changing quite a lot. But P3 is still good, it's much more easy to overtake here than at the Hungaroring for sure so P3 is good enough to fight for big points tomorrow.
FIA Formula 3: You've won two races this year, but not since Le Castellet, how are you to return to the top step of the podium?
Smolyar: Oh for sure, I think I was close at the Red Bull Ring but I missed a bit on strategy. For sure I'm hungry to win, especially on Sunday because that's the main race with the most points, so I really need to focus on getting a lot of points to stay in the fight for the Championship.
FIA Formula 3: Thank you to all three of you!