Home Featured “One of the most difficult qualifyings”: drivers on F3’s drama down under

“One of the most difficult qualifyings”: drivers on F3’s drama down under

by Ida Wood

Photo: Formula Motorsport Ltd

Formula 3 drivers were put to the test by a qualifying session on a new track that was halted three times with red flags, according to the top three qualifiers in Melbourne.

Each of the stoppages were brought about by crashes, and gave drivers little time in between to get their tyres up to temperature and post multiple flying laps before the red flags were out again.

Trident’s Gabriel Bortoleto did not follow his rivals in rushing out of the pits following the final restart, but timed his return to track perfectly to find clear air and set a lap good enough for pole before qualifying was stopped for a final time.

“It was an amazing session for me. I would say that was one of the most difficult qualifying I’ve done, with two red flags,” he said afterwards. “We always need to do the lap at the last moment as possible. I managed to do my best in the last lap.”

Bortoleto added: “When you are in the car you are concentrated and then suddenly the session stops and you need to wait, and you don’t have much information about how long it’s going to take to come back. Then you don’t know if your tyres are at the right temperature or not. I think it’s all about trusting the team as well that they would do a good job.”

His final lap meant erstwhile pacesetter Gregoire Saucy was denied pole, and the ART Grand Prix echoed Bortoleto’s comments.

“As Gabriel said, it was a tricky qualifying because of the two red flags, but P2 is still good. Really good,” he said.

In addition to the challenge posed by the disruption, Saucy also noted how the challenge of the track itself almost caught him out on what his and the rest of the field’s first visit there.

“I think I lost a bit on the exit of Turn 10 and the exit of the last corner. We can see on the video that the last corner was, really, really close to the wall so I lost a bit of time on the exit.”

Hitech GP’s Gabriele Mini qualified third, and admitted the disruption to the session put him under pressure late on to guarantee himself a top-10 starting spot.

“We struggled a bit to be honest in the first part of qualifying. When it was five minutes to go with the last time I had, I think I would have been outside of the top 12 at the end so it was crucial to improving on the last push, which we did.”

Mini added: “It’s a pleasure to drive on such a fantastic track. You cannot make any mistakes, otherwise, you’re for sure on the wall. It’s also [physically] demanding for us drivers.”