Marcus Armstrong believes he’s got what it takes to be firmly in the thick of things in the fight for points in Budapest. Ending Free Practice in fifth, the Hitech Grand Prix driver was 0.321s down on Jack Doohan’s session-topping time.
Nevertheless, the New Zealander reckons that the form he showed during the opening running of the weekend has given him a solid platform to build from going forward, as the field heads into the all-important Qualifying session on Friday evening.
“Definitely not bad. I think we were pretty competitive throughout, so that's always a good sign when you start off the weekend strong. We needed to make quite a few changes halfway through the session, but by then the tyre was already gone. In any case, we’ve started on the right foot, that’s for sure.
“The F2 car is a bit of an animal to drive, so whatever balance you have it's never perfect. In saying that, I think it was quite decent and it'll change drastically over the course of today.”
Making the most out of one-lap pace in Qualifying is going to be decisive and thousandths of a second could mean the difference between being in contention for pole and podiums or settling for a front row in the reverse grid Sprint Race.
One of the shortest circuits on the Formula 2 calendar also brings with it two major obstacles the drivers will have to overcome – tyre degradation and a lack of overtaking opportunities. This means fitting all the pieces together is of paramount importance and Armstrong anticipates that he may only get one make-or-break shot on each set of Pirellis.
“Obviously we're not on the hard this week, we're on the medium, so I wasn't ever expecting it to be fantastic. It went exactly as I thought I would to be fair. I’d say it’ll be a one-lap tyre and now that I’ve said that it’ll probably be a two-lap tyre, but we’ll take it as it comes.”
While the Hitech driver might be dreaming of snatching P1 in a dominant fashion, he’s pragmatic about where his aims really need to lie. Although the Sprint Race reverse grid can be a balm to soothe an underwhelming Qualifying result, as Armstrong himself experienced in Spielberg, it’s imperative to bring home the points in the Feature Race.
“Pole position by three seconds!” Armstrong joked. “We'll do our best. I’d love to be on pole, but we just need some big points. We need some big points on Sunday and that starts with being on the first couple of rows in Quali.”