Pepe Marti’s Belgian Grand Prix weekend was promising at first, but ended in disappointment as he couldn’t convert pole position into victory in FIA Formula 3’s feature race.
The Campos Racing ace topped qualifying on Friday while title rival Gabriel Bortoleto could only go 15th fastest. However, races “didn’t go our way” and what seemed a great chance to go into the last round with high hopes of being crowned champion faded away.
In Saturday’s sprint race, contact with Gabriele Mini as Marti overtook the Hitech GP driver and a subsequent accident as he rejoined the track put him out of contention, and a conservative tyre choice resulted in him finishing ninth in Sunday’s feature race.
“I’m quite disappointed,” he told Formula Scout post-race. “The pace was more than there to be able to fight for the win in the wets. Obviously, we got pole, but I felt really confident in these conditions throughout the whole weekend. So it’s a really big shame to miss out on what possibly could have been a win or a podium, I don’t know, but just being up there and scoring the points.
“When the top 10 everyone’s on slicks, I was speaking to my engineer about it and, obviously, if you’re starting P1 on wets and the rest of the top 10 starting on slicks, most of the time you feel like an idiot. So we took that decision [for slicks].
“Unfortunately it was the wrong one, but it’s really specific circumstances. It’s really cloudy today, really, really cold day, no wind as well. So definitely nothing that helps dry up the track. It was the wrong decision unfortunately. And for that, we didn’t score good points today.”
The Spaniard left Spa-Francorchamps having only added five points to his tally, two of those from taking pole, which puts him 39 points behind championship leader Bortoleto heading into next month’s season finale at Monza.
Marti can still match the Trident driver on points and become champion by having more race wins to his name, but he admits there is almost no chance that will happen and focuses on becoming vice-champion.
“Obviously, the championship is over,” he stated. “I mean, if Gabriel doesn’t clinch it in race one, he’ll clinch it in race two. It’s very obvious to me that he’s going to win the championship.”
“And from another perspective, I mean, first of all comes a summer break,” Marti said after a weekend full of emotions. “I want to have some time off, I want to enjoy the summer and then we’ll be back for Monza. I think that’s a priority for now for me to switch off and come back.
“This weekend, it has not been amazing apart from the pole position and a good free practice. From the outside looking back on the weekend, I don’t want to say I’m pleased, but I am a little bit pleased that the pace was always there.”