Josep María Martí is hungrier than ever to bring home his first points in Formula 3 after carving his way through from P20 to P13 twice in the Spielberg Feature Race. One of three rookies driving for Campos Racing this season, the 17-year-old continues to grow in confidence round-by-round, and believes it’s high time he cracked into the top 10 given the car’s potential.
Breaking into the top 10 from the 10th row was always going to be easier said than done. From the get-go, the Spaniard was in fine form, having made his way up to P15 by Lap 5. However, contact with Carlin’s Enzo Trulli sent Martí straight through the gravel and plummeted him down the order.
Fortunately, the white and black Campos car didn’t sustain any damage and he was able to fight back up to P14 at the chequered flag, which was upgraded to P13 following Oliver Bearman’s time penalty.
“It was pretty eventful. Obviously, I had a decent start, kept out of trouble and made my way up to 15th. Then I got pushed off at Turn 4 by another driver, so I fell back to 24th and after that I charged back through the field to 14th on track.
“The pace was really, really strong. It’s just a shame that we got pushed off because I think points were on the table today and that would have been a first for me, so I would have been quite happy.
“Basically, I had a good exit out of Turn 3, I was close to him, and he was trying to overtake the guy in front of him. He went over to the middle of the track, and I saw my chance. So, I pulled over to the outside, went through, and came fully alongside him. When my front wheel was already ahead of him, he just ran me out of road, touched my sidepod and made me go out of the track. I don’t think it was quite fair, but I guess we all fight hard for our positions,” he added.
The tyres also proved to be an added advantage to Martí’s race, as the two Safety Car and Virtual Safety Car appearances allowed the 17-year-old to forget worrying about tyre management and instead, he was able to push flat out on the soft rubber – one stage softer than the compounds used by F3 in previous seasons.
Nevertheless, Martí admits that the team didn’t expect to be able to push as hard as they could, given the circuit’s history for kerb wear degrading the tyres.
“We expected that this race following last year and the previous races, that it was going to be maybe not flat out, just driving smart but avoiding graining. After the first Safety Car, my engineer came on the radio and said, ‘you know it’s full push, right?’ And I was like okay!”
Spielberg is the second weekend in a row where we’ve Martí leap up the order after climbing from last to 20th in the Silverstone Sprint Race and he’s credited this upturn in form to the work his Campos team have done to maximise their race package. Nevertheless, he recognises that his one-lap pace is still holding him back from unlocking the car’s full potential
“We've made some changes to the setup which have helped us massively. Obviously with the dirty air that these cars generate, it’s hard to keep a good distance. We’ve found some things that in our opinion seem to be working out for us, but there’s still some things we have to improve on. The car is not the best on the grid yet, but we’re getting closer. I think if we keep working in this direction, we’ll be able to be quite strong.
“Qualifying still, unfortunately! This Qualifying was a bit different, we got the Red Flag whilst I was improving by four tenths, which would have put me in the top five or top 10. I still need to work on it because that’s the first thing, the one which actually ended up mattering in the end. It was quite bad, I didn’t extract as much potential as there was in the car.”
With 26 laps and wet conditions to tackle in the Feature Race, Marti is optimistic about his chances of moving up into the top 10 but doesn’t want to jinx himself and his quest for a maiden points finish.
“I wouldn't like to speak about goals because things can go our way or they can’t like they did today. I think points are definitely on the table. Today was nearly top five pace, nearly podium pace. I'm really excited! I hope that we can get it done and we can finally get those first points tomorrow. Coming from P20, it’s never going to be easy, so we’ll have to work and wait.”