Juan Manuel Correa experienced a challenging weekend at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps as the FIA Formula 3 Championship’s 2022 season resumed in Belgium.
A puncture in Saturday’s Sprint removed the American-Ecuadorian driver from victory contention while a stop-start second race on Sunday yielded little reward.
In qualifying, Correa secured 11th and as such, started the reverse grid race from the front row, lining up second to Zak O’Sullivan.
With a clean getaway, he maintained position off the line and after fending off Brad Benavides, settled into O’Sullivan’s slipstream ahead.
By closing the gap to the Briton, Correa pounced to take the lead in Turn Five, although light contact at the corner’s apex caused his right-rear tyre to puncture.
As a result, Correa was forced to pit for repairs at the end of lap one and after rejoining in 27th, a collision and subsequent Safety Car for Christian Mansell provided a new lifeline.
Despite racing with extensive floor damage, Correa made progress when the race was resumed on lap five of 15 and battled forward to take 18th at the chequered flag.
After showcasing clear potential in the weekend-opener, Sunday’s Feature Race presented a fresh opportunity and Correa made immediate inroads on the top 10 at the start of the 18-lap affair.
Unfortunately, he lost ground at the mid-way point of the opening lap before the Safety Car was deployed following a multi-car collision in the final corner.
When the race was resumed on lap five, the 23-year-old was on the verge of returning to the top 10 before a second incident and Safety Car again paused the race.
Green flag running returned on lap 10 and although he remained in the fight, Correa was, unfortunately, unable to make further progress and finished 15th.
“A very difficult weekend here at Spa,” he said. “On Saturday I started second and then got hit from behind in Turn Five as I took the lead.
“I picked up a puncture so ended up going all the way back to 27th and then finished the race in 18th. I think a podium, and maybe even a win, was clearly possible.
“In the Feature Race we lacked a lot of pace and I think we have a lot of homework to do for the next race. Fortunately, Zandvoort is this weekend so we can bounce back quickly and try again.”
As Formula 3 approaches its penultimate weekend in 2022, Correa holds 13th in the Drivers’ Championship with 30 points.