Thoughts from Smolyar, Maloney and Stanek
FIA Formula 3: A very warm welcome to the top three qualifiers for the FIA Formula Three Feature Race here at Monza. Starting in third place, Roman Stanek for Trident, in second place, Zane Maloney also for Trident and starting on pole, Alexander Smolyar for MP Motorsport. Alex, very well done to you. It was tight at the top, but you did it. How did the session play out for you?
Alexander Smolyar: It was a very long session with lots of tactics going on. Monza is a very special track for this. You do not always really need to make a perfect lap but to have a good slipstream, so that's pretty much what almost every driver is trying to do. It's a big point here in Monza, I think I nailed it quite well. For sure, without doing a good lap you cannot be on pole, but for sure, being in a slipstream was a big point. I managed to do everything well and now I'm starting on pole.
FIA Formula 3: Alex, you were blindingly quick in Sector 1 all afternoon. Can you tell us a little bit more about how difficult it is to hook up an entire lap around Monza?
Smolyar: It's not easy, especially coming from Free Practice, which was eight seconds slower than our qualifying lap. I think FP I was braking at like 200 meters and I needed to move my braking 80 meters forward. You have only five laps, and every lap is important. You don't know how many Red Flags are going to be in a session. There are not a lot of high-speed corners where you can make mistakes, but there are three big breaking zones, so you need to be strong, to break late, not lock up, and sometimes it's not easy.
FIA Formula 3: You converted pole position in Budapest to the race win. What are going to be your biggest stresses in Sunday's race?
Smolyar: It's very different compared to the Hungaroring. Starting from pole at the Hungaroring, the main goal is to defend into Turns 1 and 2 and then basically manage your pace. Here if you are leading at the end of the first lap it's already a good point, to be honest. For sure, I think the top 10 can win the race. For myself, I'm just happy I earned the points for pole today and I will start tomorrow by focusing on gaining positions and on Sunday, trying to play smart.
FIA Formula 3: Alright, well good luck with that. Thank you very much. Zane, we’ll come to you now. Very well done to you as well. You're the highest placed of the Championship contenders on the grid. Just tell us about your session. How good was your car?
Zane Maloney: Well as Alex said, it was quite difficult coming from Practice where it was wet, straight into qualifying. To be honest, from my side it was probably one of the worst laps I've done this year. So I'm not satisfied from my side, but the team gave me a great car. Obviously, Roman is here in third as well but I think they deserved a bit more, so sorry to the team, but we're still up here and we can fight from here now.
FIA Formula 3: There was a lot of traffic, something Alex has already referenced, but how difficult was it for you to get a clean lap at the end of the session?
Maloney: Well, it was almost impossible. No, the first part of my lap was really clean, and I had the tow to Roman but then we came to the last sector and there were lots of cars, so for sure, we lost a lot of time. But I think it's the same for quite a few guys. Looking back, maybe we could do one or two things differently to go a bit quicker, but obviously, we're still on the front row.
FIA Formula 3: Alright, and Zane can we get your thoughts on the Championship as well? Victor Martins starting in fourth, Isaac Hadjar back in 16th. Are you looking forward to it?
Maloney: It's not over until it's over, so now I'm looking forward to doing the best job this weekend and anything is possible.
FIA Formula 3: Alright, well good luck to you and Roman, can I start just with a Championship question to you as well? How do you say it all playing out? You're coming into this one third, you're starting third on the grid.
Roman Stanek: Yeah, it was a tricky qualifying. Our potential is much higher than a P3. I think I was a bit unlucky with the cars in the middle sector, I was basically stuck behind them, so I was not able to push. But I think we maximized it and we did our best. About the Championship, as Zane said it is not over until it's over. Basically, we will fight until the end of the last lap of the Feature Race. I'm really looking forward. I'm already nervous now, but I think all of us in the top five or top six are nervous, which is healthy and we will see who can handle the pressure the most.
FIA Formula 3: Just a word on the possibility to overtake here at Monza in a Formula 3 car. How difficult is that going to be?
Stanek: To be honest, it's quite easy and to be on pole, like Alex said, I'm not sure if he's going to lead until Turn 1 because the slipstream is just massive. I think we will see a lot of moves, I hope there will be very nice overtakes and all of us in the top ten can fight for the win which is very nice to see, especially on the TV.
FIA Formula 3: All right. Well, best of luck to you as well. It's going to be an exciting weekend.