Ayumu Iwasa made the perfect start to the Silverstone race weekend, finishing Free Practice as the man to beat heading into Qualifying. The DAMS driver wasn’t at the sharp end early on in the session but grew into things as the lap counts went up.

By the end, he was fighting for the top spot and just edged out Victor Martins by 0.060s, setting a 1:41.593 to lead the opening session of the weekend.

After stepping out of the car, the Japanese driver was happy to have shown promising pace out of the gate but believes he and DAMS have work to do to ensure they can replicate it in Qualifying.

“I think it was quite a good start, especially around this kind of difficult track,” Iwasa explained. “I think this will be quite positive for Qualifying, but the tyre compound will be different, so I think we need to do quite good adjustment for the soft tyres.

“We were struggling a bit at the beginning of the session, so we need to analyse why we were losing out a little bit there. And then we were good later on in Practice so we also need to analyse that as well and where we could have been a bit better compared to the beginning. So I think that's really important for Qualifying.”

Iwasa had been set to start from inside the top 10 last weekend in Spielberg until a track limits violation dropped him to P16 on the grid for both races. The DAMS driver recovered well on Sunday in the Feature Race to secure second, but isn’t expecting to have to repeat that feat this weekend.

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While Silverstone’s layout is comprised of fast sweeps and flat-out sections, track limits are less of an issue than around the Red Bull Ring according to Iwasa. Being quick around Silverstone will also provide a confidence boost heading to traditional venues in the Hungaroring and Spa-Francorchamps prior to the summer break.

“We got into quite a good rhythm last weekend, but we were missing a bit in Qualifying. So I have to be careful but I think it's quite positive, especially after last weekend where we were a bit far away from P1 in Qualifying. So, I think if I get a good result in Qualifying here, it will be good for us over the weekend, and then also Hungary and Spa.”

READ MORE: PRACTICE: Iwasa gets up to speed in Red-Flagged Silverstone opener

While nobody ventured out on the soft tyres during the Free Practice session, the softs will be the exclusive tyre of choice come Qualifying.

That represents another unknown heading into the all-important half-hour session, with Iwasa believing that the improvement in lap time is second to the outright boost in grip.

Another element will be track evolution, with Formula 3 and Formula 1 set to run before Formula 2 returns to the circuit for Qualifying. With temperatures set to reach highs of around 27°C and little to no cloud cover expected, conditions could be vastly different to those experienced in Practice.

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“It’s easier for sure because it's a different kind of track and also, if you go over the track limits in some of the high-speed corners, you don’t gain so much. I think the time gain is less but still, I think drivers have to be careful.

“The tyre characteristics are completely different, not only the grip, but everything will be different. I have the experience of last year to rely on, so I need to use it and then also to discuss with the engineers what we’ll do for Qualifying.

“I think it's really similar to last year, so it means that track evolution between sessions won’t make a huge difference, but the softs will give much more grip compared to hard tyres. That will be the biggest thing to get to grips with.”

Whether or not he will be fighting for pole position remains to be seen. The Red Bull Junior Team driver says he will know early on in the session if he has the car underneath him to fight for P1. Otherwise, it will be a case of balancing risk versus reward around a very high-speed Qualifying lap.

“I think we will see after the first run. Most of the time, when I go for first run, I can feel if I will be able to fight for pole or not. So, let’s see after the first runs.

“All of the high-speed corners are quite risky and tricky to push to the limit, but I think that is also part of the fun in Qualifying. I will try to enjoy it, we will try our best to get P1.”