THOUGHTS FROM ZENDELI, POURCHAIRE AND SMOLYAR
FIA Formula 3: Hello and welcome to the press conference with the top three qualifiers for Race 1 of this weekend's FIA Formula 3 Championship round in Belgium. We are joined by pole-sitter Lirim Zendeli for Trident. In second place is Théo Pourchaire for ART Grand Prix, and third is Alexander Smolyar, also for ART Grand Prix. Lirim, that was a bit of a strange session out there, but you got the job done for the first pole position of your F3 career. Did you know that the first lap could prove so important today?
Lirim Zendeli: Yeah. I saw the rain coming, but we weren't sure when it was coming and at which part of the track. I was on it on the first lap, and I think I did a good first lap. I was hoping then that the rain would start increasing! That's what happened actually.
FIA Formula 3: It did all seem to come together for you. Were you confident in the pace of the car anyway? Did you think that you were going to be in the mix at the front today?
Lirim: Yeah. We were, Theoretically, P3 with the old tyres. I think the first seven guys had all new tyres. Some of my laps got deleted, that's why I was quite far off in the results, but we know where the track limits were. At the end, I was confident with the car. Trident proved to be quick in 2018 and 2019 already, and I think we just did what we had to do.
FIA Formula 3: Congratulations, well done today. Théo, moving on to you. Second place is your best Qualifying result of the season as well. Just how happy are you with today's result?
Théo Pourchaire: I'm super happy. P2, best Quali of the year. Again, the team did a mega job. The car was good. Congrats to Lirim on his first pole, and Trident. I think they are quite fast at this track. I'm really happy. Quali was super difficult with the rain, so I managed to do a good first lap, and yeah... front row for tomorrow. It's a good place to be.
FIA Formula 3: Spa is a track that drivers need confidence around. How confident were you in the car after practice earlier today? Were you thinking you'd be fighting at the front too?
Théo: It was difficult because last time I drove in Spa it was in the French F4 Championship, so coming here with Formula 3 is a lot faster. I'm happy with P2 for sure, and now we have to get a good result in Race 1 and take a lot of points.
FIA Formula 3: Well done today. Alexander, moving on to you. That was a very strange qualifying session. Just how was it from your perspective?
Alexander Smolyar: I was not expecting it to be so strange at the beginning. I was hoping it would be all dry or all wet. In the end, I'm still happy with my first lap which was the fastest one for many people. We had a tyre compound change between FP and Quali, so I had to work a bit on that. The track was also better so the difference is really big. Making it in the first lap is what I'm happy about, considering previous Qualifying which has not been really good. P3. I'm really happy. It's at a track where it's not so hard to overtake compared to Barcelona, so I hope I will have a lot of opportunities to fight for the win tomorrow.
FIA Formula 3: I think I'm right in saying that you were on pole position in Hungary, but then had a difficult run after that. What caused that, and do you feel like you've turned a corner this weekend?
Alexander: We have a shorter straight from pole to the corner, so it's actually a smaller break. Normally, there's not a lot of bad situations happening. Anyway, the trick here is Turn 5 at the top. It's a long straight going into the corner and everyone has a tow. We've seen in past years that the racing gets really crazy. That will be the key point for tomorrow.
FIA Formula 3: Good luck tomorrow, thank you very much. Lirim, returning to you. Alexander's just mentioned it. Spa is a pretty difficult place to defend when you're at the front, especially on the first lap. Do you have to think of any special tactics tomorrow?
Lirim: The tactic is to have a good start, and then I'll just try to stay in front on the first lap! Then I'll just look and see how the race turns out.