Interviews and photos by Sergio Álvarez.
Hungaroring was a lesson for everybody: for some drivers up and down the main F1 and supporting paddocks, it was more about learning how to dominate their cars in the wet, I have to say I surely got blown away by Bottas Bowling Show, to wipe out half the field and two different engines with one easy move – there seemed something very grosjean-esque about it, first lap Finnish birch-case. Squirrelly nuts. To be fair, I wouldn’t even know how to put a modern F1 into first gear, let alone race it!
Moving on to our familiar territory, Formula 3 offered plenty of drama of its own making: disqualifications, Safety Cars, wet races, dry races, new podium faces, etc.. You name it.
One dude who was hot – literally with his tyres during his qualy run to pole position in the scorching heat – was Arthur Leclecr. The Jr Flying Monegasque had managed to break his metaphorical duck in Hungary and opened up his pole positions tally in Formula 3, much to the bemusement of his team-mate and mighty impressive championship leader Dennis Hauger. DH is also a Red Bull junior, move over Beethoven.
Inevitably, a question had to be asked.
Q: Arthur, how much help have you been getting from the Ferrari Driver Academy throughout the season to be able to achieve this pole position by mid-summer?
Arthur Leclerc (pole position, Race 3, Sunday): “I mean, they help me quite a lot, FDA, and PREMA (team) is helping me quite a lot, driving-wise, and as a driver as well. It’s not easy, it’s the first time I’m in a big championship, we’re working all together to get the maximum results. We know that we have the speed, we know that we have everything, so for sure they have a big part in my improvements today as a driver.”
Another feel-good story from Budapest would’ve have been Lorenzo Colombo’s win for Campos, if it weren’t for a bit of misunderstanding and a pretty painful DSQ in the end. For us though, Colombo is the man. He’ll be back on the top step of the podium with Campos later on in the year. The pace is there, the desire is stronger than ever. Vamos!
For Campos Racing it’s the case of keeping Campos Sr’s passion and love for the sport alive.
Q: Lorenzo, has it been a challenge for the team to operate since Mr Campos passed away and in which areas do you think? Him being such a charismatic person in the paddock, how did you deal with it personally?
Lorenzo Colombo (on the road winner, Race 1, DSQ): “I think the human side was the most critical one. I mean, fortunately in my life, I didn’t lose any close person to me so I still didn’t get this feeling. I hope I get this as late as possible, of course. I think, for the team manager now, the son of Adrián Sr, I think he struggled a lot with keeping this human side because it happened just, I’d say, one month before the season started, with testing so you have to plan a lot of things as a team manager. You need to be really focused on what you’re doing and if you have something around that’s causing you a major problem then you’re going to suffer. But at least with this win, again, we have found this motivation that we really needed and everybody in the team is now more motivated to do what we can do, what we’ve shown today. I think this is the most important thing to basically come back alive and that’s what we really needed.”
A lesson in defensive driving was displayed not only by Alonso, how about Roman Stanek’s drive to P3 in Race 2? The young Czech withstood some pressure from the more experienced and fast (in his own right) Alex Smolyar and sealed his first podium appearance of 2021.
Q: On such a twisty and old-school narrow circuit, do you reckon it’s easier to defend from the cars behind you and how do you approach it mentally during the race?
Roman Stanek (P3, Race 2): “Yeah, overtaking here is difficult so that’s why I was really focusing on the exit of the last corner. I was not able to pass Enzo but I was able to create a good gap between me and Alex (Smolyar in P4) which made my life a bit easier so yeah. It’s hard to overtake but it’s also hard to be overtaken.”
The BIG ONE then. Sunday. Should we emphasize Hauger’s 63 point-lead at the top of the standings or maybe his brilliant pass on Arthur Leclerc around the outside of T2, going the long way round, like it wasn’t even wet or anything. That’s Niki Lauda kind of driving in my book.
But how does it actually feel, to throw around a Formula 3 car in the rain…
Q: When it’s a wet race, what do you prefer, to be running up front so that you won’t have the oncoming spray or is it easier to drive behind a car, when you have someone up the road so you can use their lines?
Jack Doohan (P3, Race 3): “Definitely prefer to be the one ahead! Although you might be able to see the lines, the spray is so thick, especially when it’s raining heavy, that. For you braking points and kind of spotting where the water is. It makes it a lot more difficult so you kind of coming into the corners coasting very early, not knowing where the car is. When there’s obviously a clear track ahead of you, you’re the judge of where you wanna brake and where you can position the car, not subjective to cars in front of you. Obviously it helps to be able to see the lines, if they’re doing something better but I don’t wanna race following someone.”
Dennis Hauger (race winner, Race 3): “I think sort of the same obviously (as Jack said). It’s best to be in front and have some clean track ahead. I think compared to how this race was in the beginning, Arthur was doing good things that I learned from and did apply quite early on and then I found some other things that he didn’t really spot because he was maybe in the front. And then when I got past, it dried up and it was easier to spot the drying track. It depends obviously on the conditions, but in general sense I think being in the front is the best and also the nicest way because of the spray and everything. As Jack said, it’s not as much confidence on the brakes and stuff. I think up front is the best anyway!”
Arthur Leclerc (P2, Race 3): “Like they said, I think for sure if you’re in the middle of the pack like P15 there is too much spray and you really cannot see anything and that’s a bit painful. You cannot see track especially on the straight, it’s really hard to follow up close because you don’t know where they are. But if you’re like P2 in the beginning of the race, you can see a bit the lines, what is the other driver doing differently, so you can improve with that. Especially this race, me I have little experience (compared) with Dennis because in the beginning I was quite fast. Then after he found some lines, when he overtook me, I saw that he was a lot faster in T2, T12 and yeah, he was a bit faster in these corners where he was making a big difference. I was able to correct it and directly keep up the pace. I think there’s a good side and the wrong side because the line as well is depending for the other (driver). To start a race, for sure, it’s a bit better to be in front.”
Thank you to Formula 3 all the drivers and we’ll see you next month!