Luke Browning claimed his maiden FIA Formula 3 podium in the sprint race in Barcelona, building on an already strong start to the 2023 season.
The Hitech GP ace drove the F3 car for the first time in Bahrain’s pre-season testing and got his seat in the series confirmed on Wednesday prior to the opening round of the championship. Notwithstanding, he sits seventh in the standings having scored points in five out of the seven races that have been completed.
Browning’s strong pace on course to second place in Barcelona allowed him to challenge fellow Williams junior Zak O’Sullivan for the victory in the early stages of the of the race. However, he preferred to eventually play it safe and secure the points.
“I think we did a good job,” he told Formula Scout in the paddock after the race. “The pace was pretty good, especially in the first half of the race. But I think that following Zak for so long, I just I destroyed my tyres three quarters of the way through the race and then I had to back off towards the end.
“Regardless, I think pushing and going for a crash for one extra point didn’t make a lot of sense. So I’m happy with P2 today.
Browning came close to overtaking o’Sullivan into turn one on lap 11 of 21, but the Prema driver held on to first place. Having no tyres at the end, prevented Browning from one final attack at the safety car restart with three laps to go.
“I tried all I could, we definitely had a pace advantage at the start. It was quite sizable that I could go for the move and get alongside, but it wasn’t enough to seal the deal. I think we did all we could today. Zak did a good job with defending and ultimately it wasn’t worth me really pushing it through for one extra point,” he remarked.
O’Sullivan, who described it as “not the easiest race”, eventually claimed the victory as the race came to him as it progressed.
“Obviously good to get the win,” he said. “I think DRS is maybe slightly more powerful than it was on the old layout. With the higher speed now coming out the last corner, the drag is a bit higher. Early on in the race until the halfway point, I was having to defend quite a lot into turn one, which is fun. At the end, the pace was good and we managed to build a gap.
“I think before the safety car came, the tyres were starting to clear up and I was a bit more happy with the balance. The degradation was starting to kind of go in our favour a bit more. Regarding the restart, I just did what I did the time before, it worked quite well going quite early. I think the battling behind helped bit as well, so the last, last two laps weren’t too difficult,” he concluded.