Alex Smolyar said his success so far in Round 2 has been partly down to a change of approach, the ART Grand Prix ace adopting a more measured outlook, learning from his crash in Race 2 of the opening round last month.
After winning the first race of the season in Barcelona, Smolyar crashed out of the second race in his attempt to charge back through the pack from 12th.
Determined to dodge the same fate in Round 2, after again winning Race 1, Smolyar avoided the temptation to take risks and instead waited for “good moments” of opportunity. And plenty presented themselves, with the Russian gaining five places from 12th to seventh.
“I was just trying to survive to be honest,” said Smolyar. “You can take two approaches to Race 2 because the result doesn't change where you will start in Race 3. So, you kind of want to take risks, but I took risks in Race 2 at Barcelona, and it didn’t really work as I didn’t finish the race.
“This time, I took another approach: I waited for good moments to overtake and took fewer risks. I managed to get three people at the start and then I found good pace. I was consistent for all of the race and me, (Clément) Novalak and (Ayumu) Iwasa were all together.
“The race changed so much compared to the first one. There was more wind, and I was expecting it to be easier to overtake with the DRS, but it was harder to overtake. I was just waiting for someone to make a mistake, but no one did, so I sent it down the inside of Iwasa as I knew that it was my last chance.”
Despite being frustrated with his P7 placing in Friday’s Qualifying session, Smolyar is on course for his best points’ haul in Formula 3, and the Russian is targeting another podium from Race 3.
Highlighting the drama that unfolded in Race 1 - where he finished first as the final of five different race leaders - Smolyar says a second win also isn’t out of the question tomorrow.
“After the first race today, anything can happen,” said Smolyar. “I was definitely happy (with the Race 1 win). Not just because of the win, but because it was a really good race. I am basically happy just to be part of a race like that.
“So, it is possible to win from P7 here, although it is unlikely. My aim is to finish on the podium and bring good points.
“I have already brought 19 points home, so to get even more would make this a good weekend, especially because my Qualifying was not very good. I am happy so far and excited for tomorrow's race.”