SMP Racing junior driver Alexander Smolyar took part in the official FIA Formula 3 tests in Valencia at the Ricardo Tormo circuit.Smolyar made his debut driving the Sauber Junior Team by Charouz car and had the best result among rookies in both Sunday sessions. Following the results of morning wet session, Alexander set the second-best time of 1:33.850. In the second session, the SMP Racing driver improved his result by driving a lap of 1: 21.613 and losing only slightly more than two tenths to the test leader Christian Lundgaard and took third place in the overall standings on Sunday.
“I was not familiar with the track in Valencia, so these tests are not only the first experience of driving a new Formula 3 car for me, but also a totally new track,” SMP Racing driver Alexander Smolyar. - "There were many experienced drivers in the entry list, who had already drove in Formula 2 and Formula 3 - here they were preparing for the Macau Grand Prix. Therefore, I assumed that I would not succeed compared to their experience. But unexpectedly, contrary to the forecast, it started to rain, and it was good for me: cars of any category behave similarly in rain conditions. I focused, used my skills and was second fastest. I was very happy about it.
After lunch, the track was dry, and I was a little worried, because I had never driven on Pirelli tyres before. This is a very complex rubber, the car with these tyres drives ten seconds faster than any car I drove before. This is a very big difference, and I needed to adapt to such conditions. My main task was to gain experience in driving a Formula 3 car rather than setting the best time.
I was the first one on the track, so I tried to drive as many laps as possible. After three laps, I noticed that everything worked out for me, I got familiar with the car. The next step was to understand the rubber’s behavior and after trying two more new sets, I figured it out.
In fact, it was quite difficult to put the lap together, since the tyres were wearing out by third sector already, besides, I did not know the track and was driving a completely new car for me. I had a good speed, but I knew that I could show a better result. Twenty minutes before the end of the session, I drove out on the fourth set of tyres, tried to use everything I learned in a day, and managed to put together a lap good enough to take third place in the overall standings. In general, I am pleased with the result: we worked great with the team, corrected all our mistakes and drove a good lap time.”