Off the back of his best-ever Formula 3 weekend in Monte Carlo, Taylor Barnard was a driver very much on the up. The Jenzer Motorsport racer continued going from strength to strength in Barcelona by securing a front row start in an impressive fashion.
Follow the Briton’s thoughts through a breakthrough weekend and whilst his dreams of a maiden podium didn’t quite materialise, the rookie knows the potential is there, it’s just about refining what he’s got.
“I'm very happy after that session. We've been making slow progress throughout the year and I think this is probably one of the strongest tracks we'll have in the season. Of course, we're always on the upwards trend and I didn't expect to be P1 at the end of the day. Some people got caught with the Red Flag, so I think at least the top five in Quali is possible. The car was feeling good, but Qualifying is going to be much hotter and the track conditions will be much different so we'll try to adapt and see how it goes.
“At the start of Free Practice, the track was dirty because we were the first cars on track. So, we were just waiting for the track to clean up, but everyone was doing the same. You just wait as long as possible and then go out for your laps, but here, to be fair, there's just one lap. It's your first push lap and then that's it, so I think everyone was just waiting for the track to be as clean as possible for the first push lap.
“We had quite a strong test here, we're starting off really from where we left. In general, throughout the season, we've just been working on the car and I think coming with that, I gained confidence and like that, we all go upwards as a team. I think it's just going to keep continuing like that and hopefully the results will follow.
“It's always very important to have a good Quali, but here especially because you just have one lap, so you really need to be on it. Also, I think it's important to have a good banker lap, so then on your second and third set of tyres you can really start to push the limit and try to exploit it as much as you can. I think really nailing your first push lap is going to be the most important, then you can rely on that for the rest of Qualifying.
“I’d love to be in the top five but I think considering how the season has gone so far and where we’re at, I think top 10 for sure I'll be happy with and then we'll focus on the Sprint Race. I think after Free Practice and how testing went, I would really like to push for a top five and try to score some good points in the Feature Race.”
“It’s really great starting on the front row for the Feature Race. We’ve made good progress throughout the year and slowly throughout the weekends, especially last weekend in Monaco, we made some good progress. Again, we've made some good progress this weekend and managed to secure a front row.
“The track evolved by almost one second, so the track changed quite a lot. You just have to be on the limit on every set of tyres. As your confidence builds up throughout the session, the track also builds up so all the time you have to be on the limit and just try to push as much as possible. In Practice I was P1, but it's just Practice. I was not really sure what was possible.
“Then after we finished the first set of tyres, I could see on the big screen that I was fourth and then I was like OK, maybe it could be a good result - like a top five. After the second set I was third and then I was like OK, you just have one more push left and you leave nothing on the table. I didn't expect second, but either way, it was a really good result for me.
“In the Sprint I’m mainly looking for experience for the Feature – that’s where the big points are. Starting from second, I think I can take a lot of points from it, but we try to take as many points as we can tomorrow and just have a good race. For the Feature, I’ll have a whole race of experience under my belt, so I will not be too worried about it. My starts have been pretty good so far this year, especially in Monaco they were very good.
“We'll just see how it pans out, but of course, tyre degradation's going to be huge, so we'll just manage everything well and have a good result. I don't have much to lose, so I'm not going to leave anything on the table.”
“It was a good Sprint Race for me finishing P9 from P11. We didn't quite have the pace and I dropped back quite early in the race to the P14, but nevertheless there were a few incidents and a few penalties at the end of the race, so I managed to pick up a few points keep the points scoring positions continuing.
“There was always going to be a lot of battles and we expected two Safety Cars, so we predicted that right. It was about being more conservative, to be honest, and kind of how I played it. I dropped back at the start and we had a bit of a slow pace, but we managed to pick up the pieces from other people's collisions and take home two points.
“Of course, it's very good to keep building momentum like this and having four races in the points already this early in the season, I was definitely not expecting that. We can keep building on that and hopefully we can have some more points and maybe a podium to come tomorrow. I think me and the team definitely learned from the race today and we need to improve something for tomorrow because we definitely didn't have the pace. Nevertheless, we'll all do our best and try to pick up as many points as we can.
“Starting on the front row is a good starting position for sure. We just need to work on what we found in the Sprint, what was wrong, speak to the engineers and see what they think. It’s definitely a good position to try and pick up some really good points. My end result is to try and get a podium from P2, but we'll just try to do our best and try to pick up as many points as possible.”
“The race was extremely difficult. I had a really good start and the car at the start of the race was really, really nice, I was feeling really good. Then we had the Safety Car and I had a really good restart, again I could put some more pressure on Pepe (Josep María Martí). I tried for an overtake once, but I couldn't quite get it done in Turn 4. It was just the first lap that I was trying to get past - the first lap after the Safety Car and the first lap of the race. You have one attack or two attacks and then you need to back off and save the tyres again.
“Then I dropped back a little bit and just tried to save the tyres as much as possible, but I think after two laps already of me just trying to save the tyres, they fully died. I'm still not sure why and I think the team need to look on that a bit more because I did as much as I could to save them. Even though I'm a rookie, I think that what happened should not have happened as fast as it did.
“For sure our Quali pace has been positive. We’ve made such big improvements in Qualifying that I'm now confident for the rest of the season that no matter what track, that we will have a really good Qualifying pace. Of course, there'll be ups and downs, but the Qualifying pace is there now, so that's not really my worry.
“The race pace we really need to start improving if we want to get some big points. It was a weak point for me this weekend and I think even for the team in general, Nikita (Bedrin) struggled quite a lot as well. We need to work on that and hopefully for the next races we can improve that.”
“I’m quite prepared for the Red Bull Ring. I've driven there quite a lot in Formula 4 and even though it's F4, I know the track really well, so that shouldn't be a problem. Silverstone - I've not actually driven there, surprisingly! So that's going to be quite tough and I know it's a difficult track, so that's not going to be the easiest.
“In Spielberg, I hope for a top five result in Qualifying, but it depends on how good we can work on the race pace and see what result we can get in the race.”