Victor Martins has emerged as one of the most consistent drivers in the FIA Formula 2 Championship this year after scoring 12 consecutive points finishes in the last 12 races.
The reigning F3 champion is currently the highest-placed rookie in the standings in fifth with 120 points, 48 behind championship leader and ART Grand Prix teammate Théo Pourchaire.
Martins scored podiums in the first two Sprint Races of the year, but a series of incidents meant he did not score in a race again until Round 5 at Monaco.
That weekend began his points streak, which has also included two third places at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, second place in the Sprint Race at the Red Bull Ring, a maiden victory in the Feature Race at Silverstone and a third-place finish in the Feature Race at the Hungaroring.
Martins would have taken an eighth podium of the season in the Feature Race at Spa-Francorchamps, but he was given a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane, which demoted him to fifth.
Speaking to InsideF2 from the Zandvoort paddock, Martins explained what was fuelling his turnaround in form as well as how the win in Silverstone affected his approach to the rest of the season.
“We managed to put almost every time everything right to get the points we finally deserved. But in the end, the pace was the same as before,” he said.
“My approach was, I would say, deeply the same, but I just tried to focus on the details of why I was making a mistake or why it was going wrong at certain moments. We just kept believing, kept focusing on the right things, and then was all about time, I think, to wait until we finally did it in Silverstone.
“The win in Silverstone was a difficult way to get it also with the five-second penalty, and then I think that the consistency is there since a few rounds with Budapest.
“I have had two poles in a row – Austria, then Silverstone – then a win in Silverstone and then [in] Budapest another podium and then again in Spa, where I finished the race third on the track but I got a five-second penalty for something a bit out of our control.
“But I will say, on the track, the pace and the result was there, so we just need to keep focused and keep doing what we were doing in the last three rounds.”
That pace has seen him challenge and even overhaul teammate Pourchaire on multiple occasions. Despite the burgeoning rivalry, the 22-year-old insists that there is no increased tension or team orders within the team, corroborating comments from ART team boss Sébastien Philippe ahead of Spa.
“There is a lot of respect inside the track. Honestly, it’s going really well. We help each other when we can. Of course, we have a rivalry, but in the end we [have] the same goal.
“He’s leading the championship, I’m P5, but I’m not that far, so of course we have no team orders.
“But at some point, you know, maybe later on in the championship if I know I cannot get the title anyway, for sure, I will help if I can,” Martins said.
“In the last few rounds, the championship was still open. I believe we were fighting with respect. Of course, we are side by side sometimes, but in the end, everything is going well in the team.”
Last year, Martins came to Zandvoort in the thick of a seven-way F3 title battle. There is no such pressure this year, but given the higher speed of the F2 cars, does that mean this year’s race will be any easier?
“Both situations can be difficult because I will say honestly, at the beginning of the season, I had a lot less pressure than last year because it’s my first year in F2.
“I’m a rookie so I was coming like, I would say, with someone that wants to use the fact that he has no pressure.
“So I was just pushing, expecting nothing, and I was making mistakes, and sometimes you have a situation where you have a lot of pressure so you cannot make mistakes, so it’s difficult to handle it.
“But in the end, I maybe prefer this one because it keeps you on the good path, really focused, trying to evaluate the risk of what you want to do. In the end, you may not make the mistakes that you would have made if you had no pressure.
“This weekend will be a challenging one because, in the end, I feel that I don’t have the pressure of the championship, but I still need to deliver.
“If I want to show my potential, show that I’m good enough to fight still for the podium in the championship, I will need to deliver and not make the same mistakes as at the beginning of the season.”
Image: Formula Motorsport Limited