FIA Formula 3: Welcome to the FIA Formula 3 press conference following today’s qualifying session at The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Joining us today we have our top three from qualifying. In pole position, we have Robert Shwartzman of PREMA Racing, in second place Christian Lundgaard of ART Grand Prix, and in third place Marcus Armstrong of PREMA Racing. Robert, congratulations, if we can start with you. You led the majority of the session, but we saw Christian pull out a lap that really put you under pressure. Can you talk us through your pole lap?
Robert Shwartzman: For most of the session we were on top by some margin and I was feeling quite relaxed, but then Christian improved the lap and he was around one tenth or so in front of me. You know that your next lap is the only other one that you are going to do and that’s a bit of pressure, so it is all in or nothing. It was a bit risky because to prepare the last lap, it was a bit of a mess, because I was behind Marcus and I needed to overtake the driver to have a decent position. I just tried to overtake the guy and managed to get in front of him and on that last lap I just gave all of my confidence to the car and the car was so good. I was surprised when I finished the lap and I was looking at the leader board to see where my number was and I saw it come up in first and thought ‘yes, that’s the one.’ I am really happy about it and it felt good, although I was nervous. Everything went well though, so a massive thanks to my team and the sponsors and everyone who is helping me. The main thing is tomorrow so that is where we need to push.
FIA Formula 3: It is a very significant pole position as well, this being the first FIA Formula 3 race weekend, so where does that rank amongst your favourite poles in your career?
Robert: For sure, now it is on my list of my favourite poles and it feels great. It was also the first time for me to be in an F1 paddock, which is something that I have never experienced before, so it just felt really good.
FIA Formula 3: Congratulations. Christian, coming over to you. You made a massive improvement to leap up the timesheets, but just missed out on pole position, was there anything left in your lap do you feel?
Christian Lundgaard: Yes, I think that in the last sector I made a few mistakes, because I kind of had a really good sector one and sector two, so I really just needed to have a safe sector three. I actually over pushed on turn 10, so then I told myself that I just needed to get the car over the line, which I did. Like Robert said, I looked over at the board and thought ‘yes!’` I did it and I was told by my engineer after my lap that I was P1, but they needed me to wait. Then, I got the news that I would be P2 – we will get it next time.
FIA Formula 3: Were you pleased with the improvement given your struggles earlier in the session? You were outside of the top ten before your final run, so it must have been good to get onto the front row?
Christian: Yeah definitely. We had a red flag really early on which ruined our run so our times weren’t really ready at that point as we were about to start our first push lap. We already had the prep and then we had to abort that and go into the pit and then we went out and it wasn’t really an optimal run. We knew that we had to do it on the second set, and I managed to put it together with one lap. I had a second lap where I improved in sector one, but then made an even bigger mistake in sector three and threw that lap away.
FIA Formula 3: Thank you. Marcus, over to you now. P3 today, do you feel that there was enough in the car to be able to join your teammate up in the front row?
Marcus Armstrong: Yeah absolutely. I think that today the car was exceptional and to be honest, I am a little bit disappointed in myself because as you say, there was a lot of potential in the car and unfortunately I made far too many mistakes. Even on my last lap, I didn’t actual feel that it was that good of a lap, but it is one of those times where you look at the dash and the time isn’t too bad. To be honest, I am happy because we can fight from there and as Robert said, it is all about tomorrow. Obviously it is nice to have the bragging rights in qualifying with pole position, but of course it is all about the points and the races.
FIA Formula 3: We saw PREMA Racing impress through pre-season testing, but to come here and now get all three cars inside the top four, how much of a confidence booster is that for the whole team at the start of the season?
Marcus: I think that, as I said, it is exceptional, because it is obviously our first event in F3. You could sort of say that we don’t have the experience that ART have and many of the other teams have. I am very, very proud of the team and I think that it also helps that we have had three strong drivers to help develop the car over the winter, and over the last three tests – a big thank you to PREMA.
FIA Formula 3: Robert, returning to you now. Attention obviously turns to the race tomorrow and that long, long run down to turn one, one of the longest of the season, how important do you think that wheel-to-wheel fight will be in deciding the race.
Robert: Of course, it is very important. It is just important to have a good start generally and keep the position. I raced here years ago with Formula Renault and more or less, I had experience of what I needed to do. I just need to be calm, have a good start and then defend well. That is the target and then do as good a job as I can and be consistent and try to win the race.