Brad Benavides has been craving some routine to his single-seater career following a stop-start few seasons, and the Spanish rookie feels he’s finally found it at Carlin, saying that he’ll enter the campaign with “a proper driver coach, a proper team and a foundation.”
After making his single-seater debut in the final round of the 2018 Euroformula Open Championship, Benavides was only able to compete in 13 of the 20 races in Formula Renault Eurocup the year after.
He was then forced to sit on the sidelines in 2020 before getting a drive in Formula Regional European for 2021. However, he only competed in six of 10 rounds, before switching back to Euroformula Open, where he finished the season scoring points in eight of the final nine races.
“In 2021, I did half a season in one championship and then the spent the second half of the year in another championship without really having any direction,” said Benavides, who has signed with Carlin for 2022. “This year, my direction is really clear, and I am very well organised.
“For the mind, it is a lot better. I have a proper driver coach, a proper team, and a foundation for working, which is huge for me. So far, I have found the Championship and the team to be fantastic. I am happier than ever and working hard on all of the little details.
“I've been trying to adapt as quickly as possible because the level is really high, but at the moment I am fitting in quite well and there has been a lot of positive feedback from the work we've done so far.”
Despite being the oldest of Carlin’s three rookie drivers, 20-year-old Benavides is arguably the least experience, given the stop-start nature of his career to date.
Zak O’Sullivan, at 17, has enjoyed three full seasons of car racing, initially in the 2019 Ginetta Junior Championship, where he finished second, before moving up to British F4, where he again finished as the runner-up, and then the 2021 GB3 Championship, which he won.
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At 16, Enzo Trulli is of similar experience to Benavides, having only made the step to single-seaters in 2021. In his first season, he won UAE F4 and placed seventh in Euroformula Open, where he competed in 21 of 24 races.
“I am newer to car racing,” continued Benavides. “But hopefully I can catch up to the level of my teammates and keep learning and adapting. Zak (O’Sullivan) is a very well-prepared driver, even though he is a rookie.
“I cannot be too light on myself when thinking about targets because then I'll never reach better results. I have to be hard on myself, but at the moment, my goal is to close the gap on my teammates and to be consistently close to them. As a team, we just want to be consistent and to improve in each session.”
Despite his inexperience, Benavides was pleased with the work he did with his new team over the three days of pre-season testing, where he completed 177 laps.
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“I haven't driven too many cars,” he said. “I've driven the FRECA car and the Euroformula Car, and so far with the F3 car, I’ve found it to be a little more absorbent at the rear. I guess that’s a little bit new to me, but I'm adapting to it. It’s just a new style of driving and I've had positive feedback so far.
“I needed to fix the middle phase of the corners, as I was carrying a little bit too much speed. That was probably down to the GP3 car testing I did over the winter. I am trying to adapt and get a better exit. Overall, it is just about getting more used to a new style of driving.”