FIA Formula 3 driver Juan Manuel Correa is starting to feel like himself again after spending the whole weekend in Hungary without special adjustments. He is ready to resume the season at Spa, despite his horrific accident there in Formula 2 two years ago, which cost the life of Anthoine Hubert.
By Charlie Parker
ART’s Juan Manuel Correa is now halfway through his first season back racing after his horrific incident in 2019. He is now starting to return to normalcy as the last F3 weekend at Budapest was the first time his car did not have the special adjustments to the brake pedal and pump.
Correa is happy to be back in a normal car: “Now to be again in a fully normal car, getting the feedback I want, the feedback I’m used to, has started to make me feel like, glimpses, of the old JM. I’m kind of really getting into it, that was the most positive thing about Budapest.”
Correa finished the weekend with a trio of 14th place finishes in Hungary and was relatively pleased with the result considering the changes to his car: “The race pace was pretty good, the consistency was good and I was feeling better and better with myself.”
Interestingly enough, it was Correa’s fourth 14th place finish in a row, with one coming in the third race at Austria. And his fifth 14th place finish on the season, picking one up in Spain. Results which the Sauber academy driver would like to improve upon: “I definitely want more than 14th and I think that’s gonna come when we fix a better qualy. That’s been our weakest point so far, which is normal because of the lack of kilometres.”
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And kilometres is what this season is for. Getting back to regular ways is the main goal: “Consistency is important in the sense I want to finish the races. I wouldn’t want a season where I am having a crash or a DNF every weekend. Not getting that experience, the mileage I need. I desperately need kilometres at the moment. That’s my main deficiency right now.”
It seemed like such a distant goal for Correa to get back in a race car. It was a tough task to achieve: “When you’re out for so long and especially out in the way I was. Like fully out and in a wheelchair. You lose your whole physical capabilities; you have to rebuild your body completely. To start over, it was tough. I lost my feelings, my driver instinct.”
Despite what took place, the American isn’t the one to dwell on the past: “I’m approaching it just like any other race weekend. I’m gonna push really hard since it’s the weekend after the summer break. I’ve done some good preparation and I’m very motivated to really finish strong. But there will always be something special about Spa for me.”
Spa was back in the headlines recently after Williams Formula 1 reserve driver Jack Aitken sustained fractures to his collarbone and vertebra in a multi car accident at Eau Rouge in the GT World Challenge Europe Spa 24-hour race.
The crash was eerily similar to Correa’s: “For me to see that accident was pretty chilling to be honest because it reminded me a lot of my own accident and because I know Jack very well. He’s a good friend of mine. And when I saw that it was him I was like *expletive* that was not easy to watch.”
Eau Rouge is, as history has shown, a very dangerous corner, and Jack Aitken believes pushing the barriers on the left-hand side could help alleviate some of the issues and Correa agrees: “I agree with Jack. The nature of the corner is dangerous but theres always things you can do. Even if they have to change the corner, so be it. I think it keeps showing us time and time again that it is a dangerous corner.
“The way the design of the corner is, it’s very prone for cars to bounce back into the track. The same thing happened in my crash. Alesi, he bounced from the left side and that’s really what started the whole thing. I’m not a safety expert. I cannot tell you that you need different barriers or whatever. But there’s always something you can do.”
The F3 gets back underway in Belgium on the 27th of August, where Correa will look to get back into the points.
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