Juan Manuel Correa scores two top 10 finishes in FIA F3 comeback
American-Ecuadorian racer Juan Manuel Correa made a strong comeback from injury in the FIA Formula 3 Championship with points in both races at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Correa, who raced with an adapted braking set-up to manage his recovery at the cost of performance, drove a strong Sprint Race, finishing fifth.
He then followed it up with a battling performance in Sunday’s Feature Race to score a point in 10th.
A good qualifying performance on Friday meant he started the race from second on the grid and an aggressive start allowed him to spend most of the race fighting for a podium.
But he soon encountered a loss of front grip while running in third, which impacted the second phase of his race.
He took advantage of a pack of drivers fighting behind him to pull a gap regardless and cruelly lost two places in the final laps, which left him fifth at the finish.
The result ensured a good haul of points for Correa as he bids to make up for lost time having missed the last round in Imola.
"The Sprint Race was tough, we struggled with some understeer, and I had to get my elbows out and defend," said Correa. "We got some good points, though."
Sunday’s Feature Race proved more complex after Correa lined up in a starting position of 10th.
A difficult launch off the line and traffic through the first sector meant Correa dropped to 13th, but he was swiftly on the comeback trail and regained a place in the winding end-of-lap complex.
He was running in 12th when Rafael Villagómez and Brad Benavides took it in turns to collide with the barriers, leading to two Safety Car periods.
When racing resumed on lap 15 of 24, Correa was able to climb back into the top 10, setting up a showdown with Arthur Leclerc.
Leclerc picked up a five-second time penalty for a previous incident, but was keen to try and make a move past Correa with the aid of DRS.
But not to be deterred, Correa hit back strongly to regain 10th, displaying some bold defensive moves to hold onto the position at the finish.
“It has been a positive weekend and we scored points in both races, which we can be happy with," said Correa.
“I would have liked more in the Feature Race, but it was a tough race with a lot of battles, and we just lacked that extra bit of pace.
"I need to analyse with the team and improve the car and myself."
The results mean that Correa lies ninth in the championship with 21 points and remains the only driver to score points in every F3 race that he has started.
FIA F3 will return at Silverstone in July.
“I'm looking forward to Silverstone, where I hope to be back to full fitness and racing with a conventional set-up," added Correa.
“That will allow us to fight a bit more and I hope we can score some stronger results there.”