Alpine junior Victor Martins was 2021’s strongest rookie, taking six podiums, including a victory at Zandvoort with Dutch team MP Motorsport. He’d end the season in fifth place with 131 points, seven behind Frederik Vesti in fourth.
The Frenchman penned a guest column following the conclusion of the campaign and gave us his hot takes from the year.
THE BEST BITS – ADAPTATION
“I would say that the most successful aspect of the season was how I adapted to the car so that I was quickly on the pace so that I knew how the team worked with my teammates.
“You need to build confidence, so when you come into a test, you do the fastest lap, you know that you are there, and then you build the trust with the team, through the feedback and the work that you do. That is important.
“When you are fast, it is always easier for them to trust you. I wasn't used to reverse grids, how you need to defend, how you need to attack with the tyres and how you need to manage them, but I think I got used to it all and adapted.”
AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT – MAKING THE MOST OF FREE PRACTICE
“To have only one FP before the race weekend is tricky. When you are testing you have a lot of laps to be on the pace, to build up, but in FP, you have around five laps to get into the rhythm and then you go straight into Qualifying, and you need to be on the limit.
“You need to feel good with the car, with the balance, you cannot be lost, and I think at some points during the season I struggled with that. To put the lap in, in Quali was the most difficult part, but that was a consequence of FP.”
WHAT SURPRISED ME – THE TYRES
“The tyres and how they react. I think I was expecting it to be more difficult, but at some points during the season I was just sending it, and it was working. Other drivers were managing their tyres and they were worse, so that surprised me a lot.
“You need to manage the tyres in the situation that you are in. If you are fighting, then you need to fight, but when you get the chance, you need to cool them down a bit.
“The speed of the car as well, and the amount of momentum that you take into the corner, the aerodynamics.”
WHAT I LEARNED – RACE MANAGEMENT
“How to manage a race and manage the tyres. I think I did pretty well, but if I removed the little mistakes, certain decisions I made, I maybe could have been P2 in the Championship.”
WHERE I CAN IMPROVE – ON THE PACE
“To be straight on the pace from FP. When I look at my season, I don't think that I was doing enough clean, proper laps in FP, I wasn't getting enough experience from FP, for Quali, so I will work on that to do as many laps as possible.
“I made some mistakes during the season for sure, maybe I need to be less aggressive at times and think more about the consequences. It did work when I was just sending it, though, so I think I need to find a balance.”
WHAT’S NEXT? – MENTAL AND PHYSICAL RECOVERY
“It is maybe a bit too early for F2, so the plan I think is to do another season here (in F3), but we will make the best decision for me and go to the team that feels right for me so that I feel confident. I will be working on my physical condition, on my mental health and I will make sure that I rest because you do not have time to rest during the season.
“Around two months before the first race I will get ready and up my preparation, but in the end, it is the off-season, it is the only time during the year that we are off, so I want to enjoy that."