ART Grand Prix is leading the teams’ championship in Formula 2 this year, but their F3 team has struggled to find the same form, especially in recent races. As they told F1 Feeder Series, Round 8 at Zandvoort offers them an opportunity to right the ship, with championship contender Victor Martins starting on the front row for the Feature Race and teammates Juan Manuel Correa and Grégoire Saucy locking out the front row for the Sprint.
By Michael McClure
While Martins has two wins and is just two points off the championship lead, teammates Juan Manuel Correa and Grégoire Saucy are down in 13th and 17th, respectively, with Saucy’s third place in the opening round the only podium between them.
The previous round at Spa-Francorchamps was a disastrous one for the team. Martins qualified 24th and failed to score in both races after earning a drive-through penalty for jumping the start in the Sprint and being taken out in the Feature. Correa started the Sprint Race from pole but got a puncture after contact with Zak O’Sullivan on Lap 1, while Saucy, who started both races 19th, had a trouble-free Sprint Race before ending up in the wall at Malmedy in the Feature Race.
That run of misfortune and lacklustre performances had also occurred at the Hungaroring, where none of the three cars took a top-five finish even though Correa would have been able to do so in the Feature Race if the race were one lap longer.
Time to deliver for Martins
At a media roundtable on Thursday afternoon at Zandvoort, Martins told F1 Feeder Series that a combination of bad luck and driver error prevented him from showing the full potential of his car.
I made a mistake. I didn’t use the potential I had in the car, in myself. I didn’t put it all together.Victor Martins
“The result I think doesn’t show our potential,” Martins said. “I feel confident that I have the car for [qualifying] and also for the races. It’s more I will say in Spa, on my side, that I made a mistake. I didn’t use the potential I had in the car, in myself. I didn’t put it all together.
“I will say, in Budapest, it was difficult conditions. I think in the wet, we were struggling a bit at some point, but we find a good thing that we are working on and I think we were going in the right direction. In the dry, to keep it going in the same direction, we know we have the car, the team also, to improve if I have a problem in FP1 so I [don’t] struggle in qualifying, and also the setups or the anticipation for the races.
“Now it will be the time to put all of that onto the track and to deliver the best job possible.”
Martins did just that on Friday, setting the fastest time in practice and qualifying second. That gives him a prime starting spot for the Feature Race, one in which championship rivals Ollie Bearman and Arthur Leclerc start outside the top 12.
Saucy trying not to dwell on negatives
Saucy was in good spirits when he spoke to F1 Feeder Series in the Zandvoort paddock on Friday, but he revealed that his final flying lap was interrupted by the red flag caused by William Alatalo’s accident at the end of Qualifying.
“It’s good to start on the front row tomorrow, but a bit of frustration because I missed two seconds before the red flag [caused me to] lose the lap. I see my lap time, and with this lap time, I was P3, so what we can keep is the performance was there and we have a really good performance for tomorrow. So starting at the first row tomorrow, it can be good.
It’s a group effort, Saucy says – both on his part and on the team’s – and better results like those at Zandvoort help him and the team stay positive and motivated.
We need to keep focused on the positive and don’t go negative, because if you think negative, you are doneGrégoire Saucy
“I think it’s not only the team; it’s all together. We work as lot, and we improved quite a lot everything – my side, their side, so we just improve everything to be at the top.
“First two weekends was really good. The pace a bit unlucky because Bearman hit me, but the pace was really good. Then we struggled a bit mentally. We need to keep focused on the positive and don’t go negative, because if you think negative, you are done,” he explained.”I think now … with Victor, we’ve come back with some real pace, so it’s good.”
Correa: ‘Difficult to pinpoint’ cause of ART struggles
Starting one better than Saucy for the Saturday morning Sprint Race is Correa, who will appear on the front row of a Sprint Race for the third time in four weekends. His previous two starts this season from the front row, in Austria and Belgium, were quickly derailed by an actuator failure and a puncture, respectively.
Speaking to F1 Feeder Series immediately after Saucy, Correa explained that ’it’s difficult to pinpoint one single thing’ in describing what caused ART’s drop-off in pace. He acknowledged that luck and underperformance played a part in his own recent performances but said that he simply didn’t have the chance to show his true pace in Qualifying.
“I would have liked a little bit more. I think we had the package to fight for probably a top five, but there was a red flag in the end. We couldn’t finish the lap, and I think [I] have to be pleased with a top 12 starting first tomorrow. We’ll try to go for that 1–2 with Greg,” he explained.
“He was on an out lap. I don’t know if I had quite enough for third, but probably a few positions up, so we’ll see. I think now we are focusing fully on race pace. We’ll try to do a good start tomorrow, manage the race and be smart with Greg. Obviously we don’t want no crash between teammates but it should be good.”
Correa elaborated on the challenges that he and the team have been recently working to overcome, the extent of which will become clearer in the aftermath of the Zandvoort round.
A lot of our problems are coming on race runs. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow in the raceJuan Manuel Correa
“It’s difficult to pinpoint one single thing. I think we have a better baseline this race in the car. We’ve also been a little bit unlucky with the conditions in the last few races, where we had better potential than we actually showed. But I think it’s also a bit too early to really see if we’ve actually fixed some of the issues because a lot of our problems are coming on race runs. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow in the race.”
Header Photo Credit: Formula Motorsport Ltd
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