Correa, Martins Explain Lap 1 Contact in Abu Dhabi F2 Sprint

Correa, Martins Explain Lap 1 Contact in Abu Dhabi F2 Sprint

JM Correa Friday Abu Dhabi 2023

Juan Manuel Correa and Victor Martins spoke to InsideF2 in the Yas Marina paddock about their opening-lap contact in the FIA Formula 2 Sprint Race in Abu Dhabi that sent the former into a race-ending spin and left the latter with nose damage.

The incident in Turn 3 began when Kush Maini of Campos Racing, who was running eighth, jinked to the right of the racing line to cover off Correa, who was on the inside of the corner after a fast start from 11th.

Though Correa had slowed in avoidance, the pair made slight contact, the result of which was that the Van Amersfoort Racing driver sustained front wing damage and had to reduce his speed further. Martins, behind him, had little time to react and ran into him, sending him spinning across the circuit and into retirement.

Though not directly involved in the contact that forced Correa out of the race, Maini received a five-second post-race penalty for inciting the incident with his first move on Correa. In their verdict on the incident, the stewards judged Maini “wholly responsible” for the contact but wrote that “none of the mitigating factors sometimes present during Lap 1 of a race [that] result in no action being taken were present in this incident”.

Correa’s view

Correa had an early end to his F2 race for just the second time this year, a record low for the full-timers this season. The retirement was particularly painful given the stronger turn of pace shown by Correa this weekend.

“What happened was Kush didn’t see me on the inside. He closed the door, so I had to brake in the middle of the corner, and Victor hit me from behind. Kush ended up getting a penalty. Me and Victor were sort of bystanders,” he told InsideF2.

“Nothing I could do, really – a shame because the start was really good and we were up to P8 or P9, so already near the points. But that’s how it is sometimes. I haven’t had many DNFs this year, but it doesn’t feel good to get one at the last round.”

Correa made his F2 return with Van Amersfoort at this circuit last year after three years out. How much has that extra experience around Yas Marina helped him?

“A lot,” he answered. “I think it’s been a good weekend so far. We’ve been competitive in practice. In quali, we didn’t put it together. We struggled a little bit with the tyres, but we were still fast.

“And in the race, obviously Richard [Verschoor, Correa’s VAR teammate] had a good one. He finished P3, so we know the car is strong.” Correa said his aim for Sunday was a “strong points finish”.

Martins’ view

While Correa was knocked out of the race, ART Grand Prix driver Martins was able to continue, albeit with a broken nosecone. The safety car deployed to recover Correa’s car was withdrawn at the end of Lap 5, and the Frenchman stayed out for two more laps but lost several positions before deciding to pit for repairs.

He returned to the track in last place and thereafter focused on learning, though he also snatched the fastest lap of the race from race winner and title contender Frederik Vesti of PREMA Racing. Martins came home in 20th place, ahead of only the penalised Arthur Leclerc.

In a conversation with InsideF2 in the paddock after the Sprint Race, Martins said his difficult race began with a slow start from ninth.

“What happened [was] just a bad start, really – the summary of the season,” he said. “We don’t manage to do good ones, so of course, it’s just putting you on the back foot for the start of the race. You are losing positions; you are not supposed to be where you need to be.

“I was just in the wrong place, I would say, at the wrong time,” he continued. I just couldn’t react quickly enough. I just broke, but it was too late, too many cars around, and I hit JM.

“Unfortunately, I broke my nose. I put him out of the race, so I went to apologise, but in the end, I think I’m not the one at fault for this situation.

“And then there was no point to continue with a broken front wing, so we pitted and then it went all right. With no one in front, there was good pace, which is good to go for tomorrow, but actually [there were] a lot of things learned.”

Martins told InsideF2 that he chose to pit in spite of the team’s suggestions that he stay out on track.

“I took a decision to pit because I wanted to learn something for tomorrow, and I think to continue with a broken front wing was useless. It’s not giving you confidence – you think you are slow, but you are not,” he said.

“The team was trying to push me to continue because you never know – at the start, it can come from tyre temp it can come from warm up, it can come from many things when you miss a bit of pace.

“But at some point, I just realized the nose was broken and it was not good for the performance, so I wanted to pit. Even if I was [in] last, I prefer this. [I could] feel the balance, get some confidence for tomorrow, be quick, and give good feedback to the team with a normal car.”

The 22-year-old is not in title contention, but ART Grand Prix is locked in a battle for the teams’ title with PREMA Racing. The French team’s lead decreased from 26 points to 17 following the Sprint Race.

Credit: Juan Manuel Correa via X is your home for Formula 2

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JM Correa Friday Abu Dhabi 2023