Victor Martins’ path to Formula 2 has been paved in hard work, dedication and an abundance of lessons along the way. Now it’s time for the ART Grand Prix driver to reflect on some of the biggest moments from his life so far.
From trading tumbling for tyre management to reigning triumphant in Formula 3 last year, the Alpine junior has picked out some of the experiences that have helped define him, both as a racer and as a person.
COMPETING IN GYMNASTICS
“When I was 10 years old, I was doing gymnastics and I’d been doing that sport for six years. It’s a hard one, so obviously you needed to have a lot of discipline, put in a lot of hard work and the professionalism of that sport is really high. By doing gymnastics at a young age, I discovered the world and that you need to work hard to get something. So, when I became the French Champion, it was quite good and afterwards it still related to motorsport.
“I see similarities between gymnastics and motorsport because they’re both sports and the level of professionalism that you need to put into them, the discipline and how you need to work out. On the physical side, when it went into karting and then single seaters, I had a good physical strength straight away, so I was just able to keep that momentum and not start from zero. On that side, I never struggled so that was a good point compared to some of the other drivers.
“On the mental side, I had a lot of pressure. I remember when I was in gymnastics, I was winning everything, and everyone was saying they were with me and I was the best, and I had everything for me. I was just trying to enjoy the sport. For sure, I had a bit of talent, but then I was working quite a lot.
“In the end, when I started to go away from it and not like it anymore around 12 years old, I started to not have the performance like I’d had a few years prior because I wasn’t working out as I was before. Then, the results weren’t coming so I could see the difference between taking pleasure in what I did, having a lot of discipline and getting the result. When you’re not enjoying it anymore and you don’t work for it, the results don’t come. I learnt a bit from all those things to bring into motorsport now and to be successful.
“At that point, I discovered karting, and I was in between liking them, but I knew I couldn’t do both. Then, I decided to do karting and I saw that I had a lot of potential. I heard everyone around me telling my parents that I was good and that I should do the sport full time and I made my decision.
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“I also had a friend with whom I was doing gymnastics with, and his dad introduced me to karting. I was on holiday with my friend and his dad brought us to a karting track in Portugal where I tried a proper racing kart for the first time. When I finished the holiday and went back home, I asked my parents could I just do that because I love it.”
WINNING THE CIK-FIA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE IN KARTING
“When I became the World Champion in karting, it’s where I began my career because doors opened after that and I could think more about the future because of the new opportunities like the financial side, getting into an Academy and getting a manager. Obviously, it made my life a bit easier to continue in motorsports.
“I had a lot of pressure on me again that year. I was only with my parents and my brother, who was my mechanic at the time, to help on the financial side and we had one goal. That was my goal, but also my family’s goal to win the World Championship and if I didn’t become World Champion, in our head it was like it would be over, we would’ve just stopped – we would’ve missed our chance and the opportunity. If I managed to get it, we’d continue to invest and think about maybe that it would be possible to make my life with motorsport.
“When I won, it was like a deliverance because I managed to achieve it and I could see the opportunities afterwards and having people behind you, like the Renault Sport Academy came to me and my manager. I saw the doors open to a bright future and it was at this point where I really felt that I could do something in motorsport.”
CLAIMING THE 2022 F3 TITLE
“I won the Formula Renault Eurocup title in 2020, which was my first proper Championship in single seaters. I needed it for myself to confirm that I could win another title in single seaters like FIA F3, and I have done it, so now I can think about the future. It’s given me more power, more confidence and more faith in my career to go and maybe reach Formula 1 in a few years.
“As a second-year driver, I knew that I had to win the title if I wanted a chance to be in F2, like where I am today. That’s something I wanted to challenge and say to myself that if I managed to do it, then I’m good enough to continue and to think about Formula 1 one day and if I couldn’t manage it, then just stop – I'm not made for that. Sometimes you need to be hard on yourself, so I just faced the challenge 100% and manage it both on the physical side and on the mental side.
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“I was working with someone which helped me to manage all of this pressure, but also, I think after my experiences from gymnastics, karting and my Championship in Formula Renault, I understood something about how to manage the pressure and how to manage a Championship. I think that if I won the Championship, I did better than the others at some point during the season.
“When we’ve gone into difficult situations, ART and Alpine have supported me quite a lot to help me understand how to comeback and which kind of visioning to get into for the next round and we have done it. Now it’s the beginning of a new adventure!
“When I was with people I’m working with, we saw how I was with MP Motorsport in my first year without the pressure and the mindset in which I was working in the best, to where I was the most successful. Then with Alpine, they helped me a lot on how to understand myself more deeply, my emotions in the car and how to manage them.
“Then ART just complete everything, I have the support on the mental, technical and driving sides. I have a close relationship with them. I won the Formula Renault title with them, so I knew them a lot and we were kind of hard on ourselves when we were not doing the job and I think that brought us to the title. All those things made the title possible, and the experience was the most powerful thing, going from the first year to the second year you can see what you have done in the past, where you can do better and then move on and improve.
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“For me, there were two best moments from the year. One was a bad situation, but I believe this brought me to the title two rounds later. In Spa, I was doing a lot of mistakes – I had the wrong mindset, I was thinking too much, asking myself too many questions and my engineer could feel it. I remember my brother, my team manager and everyone could feel that I wasn’t in the right mindset and if I was going to continue like that, I wouldn’t make it to the title.
"They were quite hard on me to get me to understand that I needed to change some things and Alpine was there also to push me in that way. Then, we went into Zandvoort completely different, and I was really successful, in a good mindset and mood, and I was feeling like I could actually enjoy what I was doing and the results were coming in themselves.
“The second one was the last race in Monza because when you put it all to one side – the track limits, the Red Flag and all of those situations, I’m really proud of how I managed the race mentally, technically and on the driving side. When I finished the race, I actually said to myself that I think that was the best race of my career, in terms of managing my emotions in that situation.
"Maybe people wouldn’t have seen that with all of the track limits and the Red Flag, but in the end, I believe I was doing the right job. I did everything I could have done there, and I said to myself, that if I didn’t win the Championship, I don’t how I could’ve won it.”