Having made the step up to Formula 2 off the back of three consecutive Formula 3 Feature Race victories, it’s the first of Zane Maloney’s impressive streak last year that sticks out in the forefront of his mind.

Reflecting on how his trip to Spa-Francorchamps began with disaster but ended in triumph and catapulted him into the title fight, the Rodin Carlin driver looks back on the lows, the highs and the resilience needed to bounce back whatever comes their way.

“Spa last year in F3 stands out quite far ahead of every other race I’ve ever done. In my career, I’m used to coming from a very big low to a very big high from one day to the next, but especially in Spa. Coming from the enormous crash in the Sprint to then win the Feature Race the next day was a great feeling.

“Trident did an amazing job to get the car back to being perfect, but mentally, I really had to build myself back up after the crash and go out and get the job done, which was very tough. It made me learn so much about myself and what I need to do in the future. Obviously, I crashed on the Saturday, maybe because I was a bit too eager, but I learnt from that on Sunday and I was a lot more patient and I was able to come out with the win.

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“To be honest, the crash didn’t affect me a crazy amount in terms of my confidence going into the race because I was really fast on Saturday as well, and I was coming through the field until the crash. In terms of mentally, I didn’t feel quite there. It was very difficult to go to bed, wake up the next morning and feel ready to go. I was really sore and I had to build myself up, which of course I was able to do and was very proud of. Hopefully, I will not have too many of those again, but it was a good moment.

“It was a crazy Feature Race! I remember I started second and Caio (Collet) and I had a few hairy moments in the first few laps and I actually had to drop back to third to let him by on Lap 3 or 4. So, to have to come back through and then try to build a gap was very difficult, but we had a lot of pace as a team in Spa. In the end, we were able to get the job done, but of course mentally you have to stay really patient because especially in F3, it’s really easy to lose your mind with everyone around you and have a bad situation happen or a crash.

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“It was very rewarding to get the win. Up until then, it was a very good season, but no real results to show for it. We had the P2 in Budapest, but that was the first real result that I could show on my CV. It was a great feeling, it kind of lifted the weight off of all our shoulders, so after that we were able to go into each race knowing that we can win. There was a big confidence boost, but also the team had virtually no sleep, so to give them the result was the main thing that I was hoping to do.

“For sure, that race impacted me a lot as a driver and as a person. Knowing what I did to get back to the level mentally from Saturday to Sunday, I continue to do up until now. I changed a few things since then, so I’ve learnt a lot. Also as a driver, on Saturday maybe I was a bit too eager, which was kind of what happened the whole year up until then. Sunday hit a bit of a switch in my head for what I needed to do and to be a bit more patient in the race, which 100% I carry into this year. I definitely won’t be as eager or wanting too much and hopefully, that was the time where I learnt most of those things.

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“Now I know how important sleep is because especially when I felt how I did after Saturday, a good sleep was important. I got that and I still felt ready to perform the next day, so now I’m making sure to get eight hours of sleep no matter what I have to do. On the driving side of things, I learnt not to be impatient. You come through karting and you’re taught to just go for everything that you can as the races are so short, but now at this level, the races are so long and you have time to do what you need to. I realised that too late and as a rookie, I should have realised it earlier, but now that will stick with me.

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“That race was a turn in my Championship. It just gave me the confidence; I knew that we could win races. We were leading in Imola until I spun and we were always at the front, so to finally get the win, it just lifts a weight off your should. Also, I think my mindset was a little bit different at that stage because I was out of the Championship running – the season was over for me. So, I was just trying to win as much as I could and then it brought us straight back into contention. We almost had it at the end, so it showed me how it’s never over until it’s really over and I was able to continue to push throughout the end of the season.”