Home Formula 3FIA F3 Championship Van Hoepen “unhappy” with wheel-to-wheel work en route to F3 podium

Van Hoepen “unhappy” with wheel-to-wheel work en route to F3 podium

by Ida Wood

Photo: Formula Motorsport Ltd

Laurens van Hoepen had mixed feelings after starting on reversed-grid pole and finishing second in the FIA Formula 3 season opener.

It was the ART Grand Prix driver’s first podium, on his third category start, but he did not maximise his grid position after losing the lead on lap one to team-mate Nikola Tsolov.

“I’d say it was a good race in general. When you look at the big picture, definitely a good race,” said van Hoepen.

“I’m a bit unhappy with how I did some things. Certain moves that I didn’t make stick, which I should have, and other mistakes. Including going wide at turn 11, which was really not ideal. So I definitely have to improve on that and I for sure will for the next race, but in general, it was a positive race one and we look forward to the feature race.”

Van Hoepen briefly got back ahead of Tsolov on lap four and lap 11, but had to be careful fighting him.

“It was quite difficult because it’s your team-mate, so you don’t race each other like crazy, but you still want to make the move stick. I tried one time in the beginning of the race to get past and then I saw we got into a fight and lost a lot of time.

“So then from that point on, I just wanted to go away together, to make a bit of a gap. But it was really hard to break the DRS train. So then when the race was getting to an end, I tried again. And again couldn’t make the move stick. So that was a shame. But overall, we played it quite well. We didn’t crash into each other, so that’s the main point.”

Van Hoepen eventually got past Tsolov for good, and Trident’s Leonardo Fornaroli overtook him a lap later then pressured van Hoepen for second place.

“Having Leonardo so close behind and no DRS in front, it makes it super hard. But in the end, I managed it well and stayed calm and got to the end.”

The Dutchman held his position by 0.036 seconds, and learned plenty from the 19-lap encounter for Saturday’s feature race, which he will start from 12th place.

“The initial pace of the race, we were really strong. So that’s one thing that I can take to tomorrow. And now with this experience of today, I have a much better understanding of how I should manage the tyres and in what way I should make moves. So that’s all great positives that I can take to tomorrow. So I feel more confident than I did in the start of the weekend.”

He added: “I did a few lock-ups, but mainly in the rear. Which really made the degradation on the rear axle a lot worse. So that’s something that we should take into account and really work more with the brake bias to avoid that because it really limits the potential of the race when you do lock-ups.”