Thoughts from Armstrong, Pulcini and Hughes
FIA Formula 3: Marcus Armstrong, congratulations. Your first win of the season. Tell us how that feels.
Marcus Armstrong: It was an interesting first few corners. My start was good so Leo’s [Pulcini] start must have been pretty spectacular because he was alongside me at the first corner. He did quite a decent job to get round and go side-by-side with me in Turn 2, but I just put my foot in and kept the position. From there it was a pretty straight forward race – try not to burn the tyres too much. I actually enjoyed it, just driving around. It was like I had the whole track to myself. It was good.
FIA Formula 3: What do you think made the difference today? You won with an amazing gap of over ten seconds.
Marcus: I think just having clear air to be honest [laughs]. We’ve had pace all season long and unfortunately I made some mistakes yesterday in quali, but we’ve had mega pace all week. I was hoping for exactly what happened today [laughs].
FIA Formula 3: Does it feel like a long time coming for this victory? We’ve seen your teammates Jehan Daruvala and Robert Shwartzman hogging the podium.
Marcus: Yeah. I still think I need to make a step in my own performance because I want to be winning Race 1, not necessarily Race 2, but I think we could have done that this weekend if I hadn’t have made those mistakes in quali. The car is really strong and I feel really confident with the car, so I believe that we’re only going to go upwards from here.
FIA Formula 3: Leonardo Pulcini, P2 today which is another podium for your F3 collection. You looked very quick in the opening lap but then it seemed like there was nothing that you could do to catch Marcus. How was it from the car?
Leonardo Pulcini: Tyre management is crucial here in Budapest. If you are P1 then I think you have a big advantage, so I was just thinking I need to try to pass Marcus in the first two corners and make a gap. I was really on the limit – we even touched when I was around the outside in Turn 2, but luckily nothing happened. From there the first laps were good but I think he just had a little bit more pace than me today. I’ll take it, second place is not bad. It’s a good result for the team. I’m still not happy enough because, as I’ve said before, Race 1 is the most important race with bigger points. I’m looking forward to Spa [Belgium].
FIA Formula 3: Would you say that it’s true that up until today your performance this weekend has not been as pleasing or as satisfying as the previous round in Silverstone?
Leonardo: It’s a bit difficult. In Free Practice the pace was good, we just didn’t show the real thing, but in Qualifying I made a mistake so it made it a lot more difficult. Yesterday I had a clean race, today I made the podium – I’m happy with that.
FIA Formula 3: Jake Hughes another P3, another really strong race for you. Things seemed to really happen at the start and then again in the closing stages of the race. Can you tell us a bit more about it from your perspective?
Jake Hughes: The start was average but I didn’t lose a position. I was actually alongside Jüri [Vips] into Turn 1 to effectively gain a position, but he squeezed me fairly and I had to back out and I lost one or maybe two positions on the outside. I was back to P7 which was a bit frustrating. Everyone’s tyres at the beginning of the race are good so you can’t really afford to save or you’ll get overtaken. Quite early on afterwards I was trying to manage my tyres in all the dirty air. I think we did a good job of that. Around mid-race when I was behind Max [Fewtrell] he was clearly starting to struggle and he lost the DRS gap to Jüri in front. I spent about three, four, or five laps trying to position my car well in order to get him. I think he then had a problem, he slowed down, and that was that position. [Felipe] Drugovich and [Robert] Shwartzman then made contact which gave me a chance to get Robert and take P4. Jüri was quite far ahead at that point, I’d say at least five seconds, but the pace was unbelievable. I caught him in less than three laps. I must have been two seconds a lap quicker or something stupid. I got past with the DRS outside Turn 1 and then these two guys were two far ahead so the only thing I could try and do was try to get the fastest lap. I asked what the lap time was, I was told it was a 35.3, and I thought ‘that’s a bit optimistic’, knowing that yesterday the fastest lap was a 36.0. On the last lap I got 35.39 so I was a bit… Whilst having two podiums in a weekend with the starting positions I had in Budapest is really good, there’s still a tiny bit of ‘[sighs] where could I have missed that tenth on the lap’. I think we were really strong, especially in the races this weekend, it’s just a shame about quali.
FIA Formula 3: HWA RACELAB seem to have found something, a way to make the car work better than it did at the start of the season. We know that the team is counting on your experience to help them do that, do you feel that things are going in the right direction?
Jake: Yeah for sure. To be honest we’ve been quite strong in one lap pace, apart from in Silverstone, and then a small mistake yesterday. Other than that, we’ve been really strong on one lap pace and we were kind of missing a little bit in race pace. Not a massive amount but just not as strong as some of the other cars. We’ve slowly chipped away at it, to the point in Silverstone where we actually had really strong race pace or tyre deg, whichever one you want to call it, but we were just stuck and we didn’t have the good starting position from quali. This weekend I expected it to be harder to overtake than Silverstone, but actually for me it was a bit easier – which was surprising [laughs]. It’s only the team’s fifth race in single seaters, and while me and my engineer have done the championship before with Pirelli tyres, etcetera, everyone else is a rookie. Everyone is learning. It’s a new car so you can’t just take what you know and bring it over. You have to adapt a little bit. There’s been a bit of that but I think you can clearly see, especially after results like this weekend, that we’re on the right path. Long may it continue.