Why the F3 front-runners aren’t resting on their laurels: ‘There is always a lot to improve’

With three Feature Race wins, eight podiums, and four fastest laps between them, the top three drivers in this year’s FIA Formula 3 Championship – Victor Martins, Roman Staněk, and Jak Crawford – have set a strong example at the sharp end of the field. But they don’t yet consider themselves the finished articles, as they explained to F1 Feeder Series.

By Michael McClure

One-third of the way through the 2022 season, F3 does not have a runaway leader, and even those at the front of the championship haven’t been immune to trouble. Ahead of the fourth round at Silverstone, F1 Feeder Series asked Martins, Staněk, and Crawford about what they felt they needed to improve most this year.

Martins: Scoring more consistently

The returning driver with the highest placement in last season’s F3 standings, ART Grand Prix’s Martins currently leads the championship with 62 points. He’s stood on the podium at every round and taken two Feature Race victories in Bahrain and Spain, but he’s also had low points, notably failing to finish the Sprint Races on both of those weekends.

Whether they were caused by incidents or mechanical issues, the retirements have proven costly for Martins, who’s seeking consistency in order to sustain his title challenge.

“I will say on our side, [it’s] to score points in every races and also to maybe get – if it’s not that round the next one – the pole position because it’s two points and it’s always useful.”

Though Martins’ average qualifying position of 4.3 is the second highest in the field, he maintained that setting a fast time on Friday afternoon was crucial to a good result on Sunday.

“We need to be always in the top three or the top five in qualifying, and then we know that we have really good race pace. But again, we just need to finish the races, and for sure we’ll score the points that we want.”

We just need to finish the races, and for sure we’ll score the points that we want

Victor Martins (ART Grand Prix)

Staněk: Finding more race pace

In his third year of FIA F3, Staněk has taken the biggest step forward in his F3 career to date. Staněk lined up as Trident’s de facto lead driver after Jonny Edgar pulled out of the second and third rounds with health complications, and his experience and pace have kept last year’s teams’ champions at the sharp end of the grid.

Roman Staněk | Credit: Formula Motorsport Ltd

Staněk has lined up on the front row in every Feature Race this season, but he endured a torrid weekend in Bahrain marred by two punctures, which set his championship challenge back. Not to be deterred, the Czech driver rebounded to win the Imola Feature Race after teammate Zane Maloney spun out in front of him. He qualified on pole position in Spain but had to settle for second in the Feature Race after losing out to Martins at the start.

“To be honest, I think there is always a lot to improve, so from my side, I still can improve a bit with driving and with my mindset.

“And from the car’s [standpoint], we still have to focus more on the race runs on the races because you could see in Barcelona [that] we were not able to keep the pace up with ART, with Victor. So we are definitely working on it, and it will be interesting, but I’m sure we can get it right.”

You could see in Barcelona [that] we were not able to keep the pace up with ART, with Victor

Roman Staněk (Trident)

Crawford: Qualifying better

With three podiums so far and points in all but one race, Crawford might appear to be the most consistent of the current F3 top three. While that’s a solid indication of his race pace, he’s still looking for more speed in qualifying, which would enable him to fight for podiums and wins on a regular basis in the Feature Races, not just the Sprints.

“I’ll just be looking to improve qualifying. It’s one of the most important sessions of the weekend, and so far, I’ve been 21st, third and ninth, which is not great for qualifying. So we’ll be looking to improve the qualifying.

“We’ve had really, really good race pace this year, and if we improve the qualifying, get on the first two rows, then I can really start to think about scoring those big points in the Feature Race.”

“I’ll just be looking to improve qualifying. It’s one of the most important sessions of the weekend

Jak Crawford (Prema Racing)

Martins, Staněk and Crawford will be looking to make these performance gains throughout this weekend’s F3 action at Silverstone from 1–3 July.

Header Photo Credit: Formula Motorsport Ltd

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