The Imola Grand Prix ended with a good feeling for Pepe Martí, who managed to lead an F3 race for the first time in his life, although he couldn't finish the great performance with a good result due to the tyre choice.
The rookie leaves Imola having learnt a lot from the weekend and is looking forward to his home Grand Prix at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya next May.
The Autódromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari hosted the second race of the season, with a complicated start where rain was the protagonist. The track conditions prevented the Campos Racing driver from preparing his car for dry conditions in the free practice session which opened the action on track on Friday morning. The weather also affected the qualifying session. A qualifying session with constant track changes and three red flag interruptions left the Barcelona-based driver in 24th position for the starting grid of the weekend's two races.
In the first race, which took place on Saturday, a misunderstanding led to a bad start. He lost several places, but gradually climbed up the grid at a good pace, motivated by the unexpectedly good dry performance of his Dallara. However, his race came to a halt a few laps later when he was unable to do anything due to gravel left on the track by another car. He went off the track and was forced to retire.
Sunday's second race started at 8.50am. On the formation lap he found a very wet track and with a chance to take advantage, they decided to put on wet tyres. Only a few other cars decided to gamble with the same tyres. The strategy paid off at the start of the race as everyone on the wet tyres improved their positions. The best performance of them all was rightly Pepe's, who from 24th position took the lead.
Martí led for two laps, but it got cut short as the dry tires came into reach and he was reovertaken, they took advantage of the activation of a virtual safety car to make a pit stop and put on dry tyres.
He returned to the track in 22nd position but was able to move up to 16th. He finished the race in 15th position after another driver was penalised, but with the experience of having led for the first time in a Formula 3 race at the age of 16.
"It was a chaotic race, both the team and I decided to gamble with the wet tyres because the track was very wet on the formation lap and we saw the opportunity to make something out of this situation, but it didn't work out that way. It is true that we were able to lead the race and it was a great experience, although there is still a lot of room for improvement. This time it didn't go our way, but after the stop we were able to go forward and move up six positions. Obviously it's not where we want to be, but we have more pace than in Bahrain, which was the aim of this race and in the end what we need is to get laps in and that's what we did on Sunday. We hope to keep improving, especially in qualifying because we have a good pace to be able to score points in the race", explained the young driver.
"Overall, we have made big steps forward because the car has improved a lot in all conditions. The objective for Barcelona remains the same. To take advantage of the good race pace we have, all the work we have done and qualify well to be in the front positions", Martí concludes.