American-Ecuadorian racing driver, Juan Manuel Correa, finished inside the top 10 in the FIA Formula 3 Championship’s return to the Red Bull Ring to score a point at the Austrian venue.
A gearbox issue forced Correa to retire from the lead in Saturday’s Sprint Race before the 22-year-old fought forward to take 10th in the Feature Race.
He ranked 18th in the series’ sole practice session on Friday but improved upon his pace in qualifying to classify 11th, despite being unable to complete a final flying lap when the session was red-flagged following a stoppage for Zdeněk Chovanek.
This position placed Correa on the front row for the reverse grid Sprint and with a strong start, he overtook Caio Collet with a bold move around the outside of Turn Four.
A collision for Rafael Villagomez caused a Safety Car deployment at the end of lap one and with a strong restart, Correa maintained his lead when the race was resumed on lap three.
After registering the fastest lap on the fourth tour, he began to slow on lap six of 21 and was forced to retire with a gearbox failure.
“We were extremely unlucky,” said Correa. “I did a good start, got the lead on the first lap and started to extend that lead after the Safety Car restart.
“Everything was going to plan and then there was a gearbox failure when a very small screw broke for no reason.
“It’s very, very sad because I feel that the race was ours to win and we left a lot of points out there but racing is brutal like that sometimes.”
Wet weather presented new challenges for Sunday’s Feature Race and after lining up 11th, a difficult start saw Correa lose ground, falling to 13th in the opening laps.
Nevertheless, he quickly set out on a recovery drive and remained within striking distance of the top 10 throughout.
A spin for Chovanek bunched up the pack when the Safety Car was deployed on lap 21 while a collision between Collet, Jonny Edgar and Jak Crawford promoted Correa to 12th on lap 22’s restart.
An overtake from Reece Ushijima briefly demoted Correa to 13th before he regained lost ground when Kaylen Frederick sustained a puncture on the penultimate lap of the race.
Returning to 12th as a result, Correa maintained his charge until the end and by passing Ushijima on the final lap, took 11th at the chequered flag.
A time penalty for Roman Stanek – for causing Frederick’s puncture – promoted Correa to 10th post-race, allowing him to score a point for ART Grand Prix.
“Overall, a tough weekend. In the Feature Race we were very close to the top 10 and were fortunate to score points,” said Correa. “We still have work to do and there are some positives to take but also some negatives.
“Now, we’re looking onwards to Budapest which is in a few weeks and we have some time to rest, disconnect and get on with important preparations.”
With 22 points, Correa holds 12th in the Drivers’ Championship ahead of Formula 3’s visit to the Hungaroring on 30-31 July.