Enjoying his first taste of what Melbourne’s Albert Park Circuit has to offer, Mari Boya got his debut down under off to a promising start in Practice. Clocking in the second fastest time of the morning’s running, the MP Motorsport driver was just 0.058s off topping the timing sheets and is encouraged by the signs ahead of one of the toughest Qualifying sessions of the year.
Keeping his wits about him as he navigated the 5.278km track, Boya says that getting as many laps on the board as possible was vital to his understanding of the circuit’s various demands. Whilst his debut Formula 3 weekend in Sakhir didn’t go according to plan, the Spanish racer believes that the preparation he and his team have put into addressing their weaknesses last time out have helped him start off on the right foot.
“Your attention needs to be really quick on a quick track like this one, it’s really narrow,” Boya noted. “You have to fully push hard and find the pace quite quickly to build your confidence and your reference for the end of the run to put a proper lap together. I think that’s what we did.
“The car is looking good, we made many changes from Bahrain. I think that wasn’t a good one for us, but we worked really hard for this track and for the moment, it’s looking good. Let’s see for Quali, that was a very important Practice for the weekend I would say and let’s see if we’re lucky, I think the speed is there.
He added: “Immediately on the first lap I was there, the confidence was there. I knew that I’m normally quite good at adapting to new tracks, so I had the confidence from the car. Also, I had confidence that I was fast, although I think it was everything all together. Now, the most important session is coming – that's Quali and let’s see if we are also there then.
Albert Park’s mixture of medium to high-speed sections more characteristic of a permanent venue and the tight and twisty walled sections associated with a street layout mean the circuit is a test from start to finish. Additionally, all the team’s unfamiliarity with the venue puts the onus on the drivers to adapt quickly to whatever lies ahead.
Feeling the sensations behind the wheel, Boya reckons that nailing Qualifying will be a balancing act – as the whole field searches for the limit in uncharted territory. Eyeing up a front row spot for Saturday’s reverse grid Sprint Race, he’s optimistic that he has the pace to achieve it but remains cautious given the many unknowns heading into the 30 minutes of running.
“You exit from one corner and immediately you have to think to connect the DRS. It's a bit different to what I was used to, but it’s fun. As the track is narrow and really quick, the sense of the speed is much, much more than on other tracks.
“The first and last sectors are really, really tricky. There are many ways to make the many of the corners and we still need to see the data on what we tried, one lap is maybe looking better, or the other lap is. We’ll just try to find the best compromise for Quali and let’s see if we can put it together.
“We know we’re fast, but I don’t know how the track will evolve, it’s hard to say. The plan is to be in the top 12 to at least make the fight for the reverse grid and if we can go for more, then it’s more than enough for me."