Reece Ushijima was a man on a mission during the Budapest Sprint Race, setting about to right the wrongs of a mistake in Qualifying which cost him a spot on the front row. Skyrocketing up the order in the final minutes of Friday’s session, the Van Amersfoort Racing driver’s joy proved to be short-lived as he was demoted all the way back to P19 when his lap was deleted for exceeding track limits.

Resolved to take full advantage of the chaos caused by the heavy downpour leading into the Sprint Race, Ushijima drove like a man possessed as he sliced his way through the midfield pack to narrowly miss out on points in P11.

Although he doesn’t believe it be his strongest performance of the season so far, the Japanese-American racer was satisfied with how much his team has developed since its arrival into Formula 3 at the start of the 2022 campaign, particularly during recent rounds.

“I was driving a bit out of anger from yesterday,” he confessed after the race. “I think it's all just improvement on each other. I think Silverstone was a very good round for the team and I, and obviously Franco (Colapinto) today was good for him. I think we're all just improving together and I'm glad to see the progress of it all.”

Visibility was in short supply during the opening stint of the race, particularly for those like Ushijima who were situated right in the middle of the pack during the rolling start. Undeterred by the uncertainty, the black and orange VAR car managed to find its way further and further up the order on each of the three starts.

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While some of that confidence came from his experience racing in the wet last time out in Spielberg, Ushijima, who races under a British licence, admitted that his ability to adapt to the slippery conditions was honed racing in the often-soggy British weather. Prior to making his F3 debut this season, the American-born rookie previously competed in both the British F3 and GB3 Championships and became well-versed in finding grip and executing overtakes in less-than-ideal circumstances.

“From our perspective, we didn't have the perfect car. I think that we have some places we can improve with, and I struggled with the balance a little bit throughout the race. The first couple of laps when it was really wet, it was a bit of a guessing game - you can't see anything, especially when you're back in P19 with all the spray and everything.

“It was the same in Austria. It's just about hitting your marks and making sure you stay on the track 'cause I think at the start it was just me staying on the track where other people couldn't. After that, it’s about trying to learn as much lap by lap, see how everything evolves

“I think racing in England previously, I have a lot of experience with that. It's a bit colder than here when we raced there but definitely, I think racing over there is helping with conditions like this. I'm glad I can finally do something with that.

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“To be honest, a lot of my moves were done at the restart. I think I warmed my tyres is a lot better than other people, so at the restart on the first laps I would be able to gain two or three positions. I did this move on one of the Tridents at Turn 12. He went to go and defend, and I just drove around the outside of him and that was probably my little highlight of today.”

In spite of his performance, he wouldn’t have had to fight through the pack if not for a track limits violation at Turn 4 in Qualifying. Explaining how he fell foul of the rules, Ushijima said he felt frustrated by the decision but acknowledged that although the result isn’t what he wished it to be, the improvements in pace are a positive sign of things to come heading into the final three rounds after the summer break.

“I had a good lap. It was good enough for the front row of the Feature Race. Initially they told me it was track limits at another corner and then I showed it wasn’t track limits at that corner. Then they came back to me and said it was another different track limit. I felt targeted a little bit there, but I've looked at the video, I understand their perspective.

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“I don't think at Turn 4 when you're two inches off the white line you don't gain that much, but I understand rules are rules and they have to enforce it. I'm glad they've been consistent throughout the year. Ever since Bahrain, they've been very strict on the track limits. I'm glad they're at least consistent, and although it didn't help me yesterday, it's still an encouraging sign from me and my team’s perspective in terms of, we have the pace to be there. I just gotta try my best to do that next round to redeem myself."

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Turning his attention towards recreating that pace in Sunday’s Feature Race, he’s probably not alone in hoping for another downpour to shake up the midfield fight for points and Ushijima believes he’s got more to give to earn redemption.

“Obviously I don't know what the weather is going to be like tomorrow, I've heard rain sometimes and I've got dry sometimes. I think with the rain it's a bit easier for me to make up the difference between the people in front of me and it was easier for me to gain positions

“In the dry, I think the Hungaroring has been a bit notorious in terms of dirty air and being difficult to overtake on. I'll try my best; I think I still have a lot left in my tank and especially after what we went through yesterday, I feel like I have a lot to do to prove myself still. I didn't do the job yesterday, so I still have to make up for it the next couple of rounds.”