Marcus scores a dominant maiden Formula 3 victory
With summer break on the horizon, Marcus Armstrong was keen to set off the first part of the season on a high as FIA Formula 3 took to the track in Hungary. Visiting a track at which he enjoyed podium success last year, Marcus went one better to blaze his way to glory, in a lights-to-flag victory.
Just a short distance from Budapest sits the 4.3km track, boasting sharp turns and long straights, the track offers a tricky challenge and minimal chances for overtaking. Bouncing back from missed opportunities, the talented Kiwi driver was ready to chase that elusive victory and set about showing pace from early on in the practice sessions.
A tricky beginning
With qualifying taking place on Saturday morning, the day proved an unknown, with track temperatures and conditions different to that usually faced by the grid on Friday evenings. Setting the initial pace, Marcus set the marker for much of the session, however when the track began to improve and the times tumbled, Marcus was caught short in traffic and could only achieve 13th on the grid.
Reverse of fortune
Lining up in the midfield on the grid, Marcus knew he had tricky battle in the race to earn himself a positive result, but with full confidence in his abilities, he put his foot down and got straight to work. Whilst overtaking opportunities are limited at the Hungaroring, the Prema driver certainly didn’t let that keep him from pushing maximum attack on his rivals. Climbing up into the points, heralded by spectators and commentators alike, he pulled off a spirited move to the inside of Tsunoda, showcasing his true racing prowess. Moving up 5 places in the race, he scored 8th on the line to earn himself pole position for the reverse grid race.
The triumphant trio - Pole, Victory and Fastest Lap
Bright and early on Sunday morning, Marcus pulled into his pole position that offered the prime view of the sharp right hander of Turn 1. Having scored pole on merit earlier in the season, he had full trust in his car beneath him to take this one to the flag. As lights went out, Marcus immediately put the power down and stormed ahead, keeping his leading edge as the field entered the first corner unscathed. But by the second turn, he was under pressure from second placed Pulcini who pulled alongside him. Providing edge-of-seat racing, the pair went side-by-side into turn 3, narrowly touching they both came through to the long straight with Marcus in front.
From this thrilling opening lap, the Kiwi racer pulled his advantage and built a dominant lead over the chasing pack. As the chequered flag fell, Marcus crossed the line to take an emphatic maiden victory by a margin of 12 seconds, he further iced the cake with fastest lap of the race. Writing his name as one of Formula 3’s race winners, the Ferrari Driver Academy protégé scaled the podium to the celebrations of both his Prema mechanics and Ferrari personnel.
Speaking of his race, Marcus reflected:
“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.”
“I actually enjoyed the race, it was like I had the whole track to myself. 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. 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.”
With a haul of 21 points to his name heading into the summer break, Marcus now sits in fourth place in the standings with 98 points, his foot firmly in the title challenge. Boosted by his success, he’s confident he can build upon this victory, when the FIA Formula 3 Championship returns on 30th August at Spa-Francorchamps.