Two months after he last sat behind the wheel of his Formula 2 car, Victor Martins was swiftly back in the swing of things in the Free Practice. Proving it’s better late than never, the ART Grand Prix driver regained his hold on the fastest time with a 1:37.389 in the final minute of running.

Having previously topped the order once the session resumed following a brief Red Flag interruption, Martins was happy to kick off the final round so strongly but admits he did need a quicker refresher.

“Of course, it’s really nice to get back to it, so much pleasure. When you have a long break you kind of forget about everything - the pleasure you have in the car, the commitment you need to have to deal with everything, communicating with the team and improving yourself.

“Being in the mindset and in the zone, it doesn’t feel natural for the first few laps. But then as soon as I got the feeling back, I just went full send and full push. I had a really good feeling with the car, I’m feeling confident. Also, I’m feeling confident about myself, everything was quite good. We built the Free Practice session well and learnt a lot for Qualifying.”

It’s a crucial weekend for Martins in his fight to finish as the top rookie and in his ART team’s quest to secure their first Teams’ Championship title in F2. With teammate Théo Pourchaire finishing third, just over two tenths off the Alpine junior, the signs are looking encouraging for the French squad.

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Satisfied with his base setup, Martins says there are no plans to overhaul what’s worked so far as the focus is on fine tuning their package. However, with no previous experience around the Yas Marina Circuit, the Frenchman says there are still some unknowns to overcome.

“I think there will be no major changes. It’s just about understanding the car balance and I just built my session really well. I was maybe not feeling so well for the first two laps, but then as soon as I got into the rhythm, it feels natural again.

“It’s where I belong, to go top of the field doing the fastest laps, I’m happy to start the weekend like this. Now I’m just analysing a few details and then preparing the car for Quali.”

READ MORE: PRACTICE: Martins fastest at Yas Marina from Maloney and Pourchaire

He added: “It’s hot, but we used the mediums for Free Practice. I’m not sure if this track is demanding a lot from the tyres. Of course, there are some high-speed corners where you kind of feel that the tyres are stressed, but it was quite okay and good to improve myself throughout the session.”

As the driver to beat in the morning, Martins is understandably targeting his fourth pole of the season but isn’t taking anything for granted.

“I will try my best! For sure, it’s a good start but then it’s only Free Practice. So now, let’s put it all together and work for it.”