Juan Manuel Correa delivers mixed-weather masterclass in Hungary
Juan Manuel Correa surged to the top 10 in the FIA Formula 3 Championship’s return to the Hungaroring to score eight points for ART Grand Prix.
The American-Ecuadorian racer gained ground in both races at the Budapest-based venue, and after falling shy of points in Saturday’s Sprint, battled forward to take sixth in Sunday’s Feature Race.
Correa showed clear promise in practice but a compromised qualifying session on Friday afternoon left him with work to do, lining up 18th on the grid for the double-header.
In a wet opening race, Correa secured a strong start to gain ground on the first lap and moved forward to 16th before the Safety Car was deployed following a crash for David Vidales.
Although the race was resumed on lap four, a subsequent accident between Brad Benavides and Ido Cohen led to another stoppage, with the Sprint returning to green flag-running on lap eight.
Correa restarted the race in 15th but unfortunately lost ground before bouncing back to 16th by overtaking Alexander Smolyar.
He continued to make progress by next clearing Pepe Martí and Jonny Edgar on laps nine and 11.
A collision between Jak Crawford and Arthur Leclerc on the final lap promoted Correa to 12th, with the 22-year-old missing out on points by only 1.6 seconds.
With renewed hopes for the Feature Race, rain cast an element of unpredictability over Sunday’s 24-lap affair.
Struggling for grip in the initial stages, Correa slipped to 20th when the race commenced but recovered to his starting position by passing Benavides and championship leader Isack Hadjar.
As the race progressed, the circuit’s conditions evolved and an emerging dry line prompted Correa to make a rare pitstop on lap 15, swapping his race-starting Wet tyres for a set of slicks.
Correa rejoined in 26th but by quickly adapting to the track’s status, set out on an impressive charge through the field, in which he was lapping five seconds faster than the leaders.
By performing an impressive 20 overtakes in only 10 laps, including five passes on the final tour alone, Correa finished in a fighting sixth position to score eight points.
“Overall, Budapest was a very tough weekend, and a red flag compromised our qualifying which meant that we had to fight from the back in both races,” said Correa.
“From 18th on the grid and in wet conditions, I made decent progress in the Sprint to finish 12th. In the Feature Race, we had wet conditions again and I decided to gamble by pitting onto the slicks with about 10 laps to go.
“This decision paid off, I finished sixth and scored some decent points. I enjoyed the race a lot.
“It’s a happy ending to a bittersweet weekend and although we have a lot of work to do, I think our potential has been good.
“We’ll take the positives from this weekend into the summer break, get some rest and then come back for Spa with our batteries fully recharged.”
After taking sixth, Correa holds 13th in the Drivers’ Championship on 30 points, with three race weekends still remaining in the current campaign.
Formula 3’s 2022 season will resume at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on 27-28 August.