Interviews by Sergio Álvarez; header image and photos by Diego Merino.
What’s cooking, dudes and dudettes? Have we got more F3 stuff for you!
Looking back on the Spanish Grand Prix, one of the unsung heroes of the opening weekend of F3 racing was Alexander Smolyar. A win in Race 1, a mighty DNF on lap 1 in Race 2, and a rather modest P11 in Race 3 (coincidentally where he qualified on Friday). The Russian is still lacking a bit of consistency and a touch of smart driving to be able to achieve gr8r things, but that’s not to say he can’t be the next ‘Red Plumber Torpedo’ Kvyat or the ‘Topol Rocket’ Petrov. I realli and trulli fail to define Sergey Sirotkin other than the ‘Did-the-Best-He-Could Misunderstood Muscovite’ – the Lil’ Hammer maybe? Sergey knew how to put the hammer down on his day, only it was a little hammer as opposed to a sledgehammer.
We sat e-face to e-face with Alex in the e-presser after analogue Race 1 took place on Saturday morning.
Q: You looked relieved because of the final SC period, which areas do you think you and your team (ART) need to improve in order to match the pace of the Trident over the whole race distance.
Alexander Smolyar: Um, well, for sure, I was pleased to see the SC then but it’s the first race of the season and I remembered things from last year. You always have to kind of make one race at the beginning (of the season) to refresh everything in your head. So I was not really expecting so much degradation from the tyres. That’s what we didn’t have last year, for example. I still tried to not do some unnecessary things, like sliding or something like this. But in the end, the last five laps it was, I would say, quite tough to manage the rear tyres. I’ll have a debrief with the team, we will check what my team-mates think about it and I’m really sure the next race will be much better.
Another raging hot topic in Spain was track limits, or the consistency in application thereof.
Oliver Rasmussen’s trip over the banana/sausage kerb and into the gravel at the last turn in Race 1 has sparked yet another argument about the way the FIA likes to police this particular area. To be fair, we don’t want to see more cars taking flight over these questionable devices as witnessed during Alex Peroni’s Monza Red Bull Air Race moment.
We asked Alex Smolyar, Clément Novalak and Caio Collet whether they tend to take notes of the positioning and also of the configuration of these kerbs during track walks, provided track walks do take place for them and their respective teams.
Here’s what top 3 finishers in Race 1 had to say about the matter.
Caio Collet: I mean, I think they’re (bananas) always there since I remember I drove here in Barcelona, the first time. But I think, if we had gravel instead of sausage or run-off, it would’ve been better for everyone.
Alex Smolyar: I think there are some places on track where it’s really tricky with bananas or something like this. On different tracks it can be. I’m pretty sure the FIA is trying to remove them, but on this track especially, I don’t think it’s a big problem.
Clément Novalak: From my side, I think that generally speaking, if you make a mistake, obviously, it’s a bit of a rough ride. But now I think they’re useful in terms of policing track limits. I think that some of the stuff that was here last year with the, um, detection probably works a little bit better in terms of policing it and obviously it’s a bit less risky. From my side, you just really have to adapt.
Thank you so much for watching and have a great rest of your month. We’ll e-see you at Le Castellet for F3 in June, supposedly, on e-paper.