Thoughts from Bearman, Stanek & Smolyar
FIA Formula 3: A very warm welcome to the top three finishers of the FIA Formula 3 Sprint Race here at Spa-Francorchamps, in third place, Alexander Smolyar for MP Motorsport, in second place, Roman Stanek for Trident and winning his first race in FIA Formula 3 our winner, Oliver Bearman for PREMA Racing. Ollie, your third time in third place last time out in Hungary and now your first win, here at Spa of all places. How sweet is this moment for you?
Oliver Bearman: It's really nice! Obviously, it's just a Sprint Race so it's not super important but it's nice to finally stand on the top step. It's been a long time coming. I've felt a lot of situations where I've been so close to that win and it's finally come. So it's a nice step in my season, good points for the Championship as well and to come at Spa... it's a nice place to have it.
FIA Formula 3: Talk us through the race because it was a very impressive performance by you.
Bearman: I was staring P5, and I knew with the people around me I could fight for the win. On the first lap, I just tried to keep my nose clean, I almost got involved in the incident in Turn 6, when Correa had a puncture but I managed to just about avoid him. From there I was trying to manage the tyres and stay out of DRS. The problem was in Sector 3. I was always really fast in Sector 2 and the car behind was catching in the slip steam in Sector 3, and also Sector 1. So it wasn't easy to manage the gap, but I was able to do it.
FIA Formula 3: It was a long red flag period, how tough was it to remain focused and ready for the restart?
Bearman: It wasn't difficult, to be honest, it was quite nice to have a mid-race debrief. The only thing was that I had to do the Safety Car restart again. If there's a Safety Car restart here the last place you want to be is first. It's really tough because you have three massive straights, luckily I managed to get the tyre temperature and pull a gap before Les Combes so I had no threats behind. It was difficult, but I managed to do it.
FIA Formula 3: It was a very impressive restart, the final one from me Ollie. How much confidence does this performance give you going forwards, and do you feel you're now a true Championship contender?
Bearman: As I said, it's good points towards the Championship. It's pretty close up there, especially with the Qualifying yesterday, everyone ahead of me in the Championship is starting quite far back so it gives me good confidence. I already knew I could fight for wins and I have been doing so, but to finally get the win is another step and I'm really confident head into the final stint of the season.
FIA Formula 3: Very well done to you. Roman let's come to you next, you are another driver who made huge progress during that race from eighth on the grid. What was your secret?
Roman Stanek: Honestly, there was no secret it was just 'release the clutch', as our team manager says and push. There was a Red Flag which helped us because we could change things on the car and improve the car. Then we managed to move up to P2 and do a good race. So very happy with the race and let's keep working for tomorrow, because tomorrow we want to score another haul of big points.
FIA Formula 3: This is your best result since Barcelona, have you found something with the car here? Just tell us a little bit more about the performance you've managed to find?
Stanek: First of all, we've seen in past years that Trident is very strong here at this track especially. We have been quite unlucky in some rounds but that's how it is, it's up and downs. It's been a long time since Barcelona, but I managed to finish P2 today so I'm back. I just need to keep working and keep doing my best.
FIA Formula 3: As you say, you're back. Do you feel this has put you back into Championship contention?
Stanek: Yes, I think I'm sixth or fifth now. I don't look so much at the Standings because you never know what happens, but I think I'm a Championship contender and if I have two weekends like I had in Imola or Barcelona, which were very good, I can be back there in the top three places. It's just about putting everything together and extracting the best out of myself and the car and I'm sure it'll be easy if I do these things.
FIA Formula 3: Very well done to you. Alex, we'll come to you next. After your win in Hungary, this was another very strong performance by you. How much did you enjoy it out there?
Alexander Smolyar: It was fun, the first lap was crazy. In Turn 5 people were spinning, locking up, I was just trying to stay alive, to be honest. Then I didn't really see what was going on I was just trying to bring my car around in one piece after Lap 1. I think I managed to do quite well, then after the big crash, I was worried because my engineer said it was a big one and that we might have a Red Flag. I was worried that everyone was ok, and I think everyone was, so that's quite good. We had a break because of the Red Flag, then we did six laps. Unfortunately, all the race we were struggling to switch on the front tyres, so I was not really quick in the first laps. Still, I was trying to stay within the five seconds to Edgar and bring home the podium.
FIA Formula 3: You had a great battle with Roman, it was very close. Talk us through that.
Smolyar: The first time it was close, but the second time with the DRS slipstream the difference in speed was so big that I didn't really want to spend a lot of time fighting with him and losing time to Edgar. So I stayed with him, took the DRS and we finished P2 and P3. The most important thing is points and not trying to be a hero to show that I can fight. Everyone can fight, but you need to bring home points.
FIA Formula 3: Alex final one, a more general question, three different teams represented on the podium. What does that tell us about the competitiveness of FIA Formula 3 this year?
Smolyar: I think even looking at the Qualifying, seven different pole sitters... so for sure it answers your question. It's very competitive and a lot of teams, maybe not all of them, but a lot of them have the pace in Qualifying or the race. Even though you can see some teams not be quick sometimes, still you need to know that everyone can be quick, and you should look at your rival the same as everyone. It's very competitive.
FIA Formula 3: Thank you for that Alex.