After a successful Formula 2 test, Victor Martins says he is eager to get back behind the wheel of an F2 car as soon as possible. The 2022 Formula 3 Champion completed the three-day post-season test at Yas Marina with ART Grand Prix, finishing fastest on the morning of Day 3 with a 1:35.908.
Martins drove as part of an all-French team and driver line-up, with 2022 F2 vice champion Théo Pourchaire alongside him in the garage throughout the test. Reflecting on the three days in Abu Dhabi, Martins said that it was a huge bonus to have such a quick driver alongside him.
“It was just an amazing experience to be honest. I was really looking forward to driving this car for a long time. Even during the F3 season I was already thinking about it. To get a first taste here in Abu Dhabi - I love the track as well. I knew it from the past, not with the new layout but it was interesting to see how it was.
“For sure we have a good relationship and with the rest of the team, we are all friends so it's quite easy to work with each other. Obviously, I knew him before from karting and from single seaters in the lower categories I knew him, so I knew it was going to be okay and quite easy to work with Théo. So I know he is a good benchmark, and it was really nice for me to know where I could improve, what I was doing better, what I was doing a bit less good and try to get there and see how he was adapting to the car and how he was used to it for the race the for the Quali sim.
“It was really useful for me and as drivers, you always want to be better than your teammate so it’s not like you want a less good driver, you want to just beat a solid driver who can be quicker than you are sometimes. I think that’s the key point to succeed. To realise that you aren’t there or not doing the right job all the time. You cannot improve and push each other to the top without being competitive like that.”
One major difference between the task at hand in an F3 car and F2 is the implementation of tyre strategy. Adapting to an all-new car was just the start of his challenge at Yas Marina. Once he was comfortable with the basics, race simulations were the focus on long afternoons in the heat.
After achieving over 200 laps at the wheel of the ART, his first impressions of the F2 machine were positive. Martins says he has a good feeling with the car but admits there is still plenty to learn.
“To just really discover the car, get a feeling with it and working with the team, it was good. We were working on understand everything as much things as possible. Tyre warm-up, tyre deg in the race sims, how the carbon brakes also are working. So this kind of thing, strategy, planning and all these things was, I would say not new but almost in some parts. It was nice to keep everything I will say as simple as possible at least and try to be focusing on enjoying every moment.
“It has been quite - I will say not easy but when I was looking at the weekend also, I think it's the track where there isn’t a large amount of deg on the prime tyres at least, so I will say that made our life a little bit less difficult. Because you don't have that much here compared to places like in Bahrain or Budapest.
“So I will not say it was easy but just to understand and push at the end was good. When it’s your first time in the car, you don’t have to think too much about tyre deg, for me not the best, it's just you need to push and see how it goes. After that, you come back into the garage, you see the data and then see what you need to do next time. ‘What do I need to change? Oh, this, this and this’ but it was more about driving naturally without thinking and seeing how it was going after on the data, but it went quite well.”
The time in the car though has unquestionably motivated him further. Finishing the final morning of the test fastest with a time well beneath the one that won Ayumu Iwasa pole position the weekend prior was a strong note to end on.
Even though he achieved a final lap count of 226 laps in tough conditions and temperatures above 30 degrees, Martins wants to get back in the cockpit at the earliest chance.
“Right now, I can say that I want to drive again tomorrow and every day after, but I'm looking forward to it. I have been waiting for that chance, to drive in F2. It’s the final step before F1. It’s not as amazing as if you got a chance in F1 but to get a chance to drive this car is just awesome. I want to be there on the grid so for sure we need to work on that and everything with the plans but I feel I put myself in a good position from what I’ve done in the test and these three days.”