Victor Martins enjoyed an “awesome” day of Formula 1 testing for Alpine, getting behind the wheel of their 2022-spec A522 in Spielberg earlier this month as part of their young driver test programme.

This was not Martins’ first time driving for the French outfit, but it was his first opportunity to test in the current generation of ground effect cars.

It was a day that filled the ART Grand Prix driver with plenty of joy and one he hopes to use as a springboard for the rest of the Formula 2 season and possibly beyond.

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“It was obviously an awesome day,” said Martins. “Getting back in an F1 car always feels like a dream because you don't get these opportunities often. So obviously I was really grateful and really happy to jump into it with Alpine, with whom I have had this project with.

“I think it's also a very nice opportunity to get maximum pleasure in the car, maximum fun and also to actually get some really good confidence in an F1 car before going back into my F2 season in Barcelona.

“I think we had a good programme during the day, experiencing so many things to help me develop as a racing driver, working with so many engineers and also going through some situations in the car, in quali sim, race sim, just to get a feel for what is maybe waiting for me in the future and to keep up my development and maybe these are the kind of things I can use also in Formula 2 with ART.”

Martins went behind the wheel of Alpines A522 in Spielberg earlier this month
Martins went behind the wheel of Alpine's A522 in Spielberg earlier this month

But before he did get into the car, Martins spoke of the meticulous preparation he had to go through to be ready for the opportunity, such as learning the various procedures and the buttons on the steering wheel.

“It's the kind of day you want to prepare for best,” he explained. “You might only get one chance, so you really want to maximise it. You maximise your confidence in the car by how much you are prepared, making sure you are on it with the steering wheel and the many buttons they have on it.

“Also, how much information you can give back to the engineer, all these things you prepare for in the simulator to feel like you already drove it in real life.

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“I would also say the basic things like driving style, your marks on the track, we will prepare for that in the sim, so straight from the first push you are on it.

“Also, the seat fit, getting comfortable in the car before going out on the track and preparing a good run plan and already working with all the systems in the car that you need to work with the team.”

Martins also explained that being on it straight away in the car is something he has learned from Formula 2, as with just 45 minutes of Practice before Qualifying, the drivers need to get into a rhythm quickly.

While he believes you can never truly be ready to jump into an F1 car despite how long you prepare for it, he says his time in F2 has certainly helped.

Martins is hopeful of taking the confidence from his test into his F2 season with ART
Martins is hopeful of taking the confidence from his test into his F2 season with ART

“Formula 2 is really good at developing us for Formula 1,” added Martins. “But I will also say that you are never ready until you get in an F1 car, and you get a taste and a feel for it.

“Obviously we have tools, we have good sessions, good race weekends to prepare for it, but we don't get so much time in Formula 2 to be ready, to be on the pace, to be in rhythm as quick as possible, so this is helping us to be ready from Lap 1.

“Also getting two different compounds on the same weekend, makes you understand a bit more how you need to behave with the car, with your driving style, with your tyre management before going to Formula 1.

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“The downforce, the carbon brakes, how the car balance is behaving according to the aero, because we know this new car is much more sensitive to downforce, and how the car needs to be setup, all this also is a lot closer to the current F1 generation. I think the window of Formula 1 is now a lot closer to our current F2 car.”

Martins’ attentions will quickly turn to Round 6 of the F2 season in Barcelona this week. He does not know how much he can take from the test into the race weekend, but he is hopeful that time spent in a race car will have its benefits.

“It's not so clear because the driving style is quite the same,” said Martins when asked what he can take from the test to the rest of his Formula 2 season. “It's not completely different so getting some confidence in a single seater racing car is also quite important.

“I will try to use this experience as an advantage if there is one to just be ready from Lap 1, but in the end, I'm not sure I will need to take a lot from the F1 test.

“It was a nice experience, it gave me confidence, gave me some good hope for the future, I had a good day, I was really happy with how I drove, the feedback I was giving to the team and it gives me and ART confidence, because we spoke about it and I told them I am ready to come to Barcelona and succeed there.”