Early advantage to Luke after maiden FIA F3 success

Rising star Luke Browning enjoyed the perfect start to his second season in FIA Formula 3 with victory during the opening weekend of the new campaign in Bahrain.

On the back of a stunning win in the Macau Grand Prix at the end of 2023, and a solid pre-season testing programme, the Cheshire-based racer went into the opening rounds of the season amongst the favourites at the wheel of his Hitech Pulse-Eight car.

Fastest during free practice around the Sakhir circuit, Luke narrowly missed out on pole position in a hard-fought qualifying session, taking second on the grid behind Dino Beganovic.

That meant Luke would start the reverse grid sprint race from P11 on the grid but the Brit wasted little time in making up places as he raced towards the top eight.

A fine move through turn four saw Luke overhaul both Christian Mansell and Sami Meguetounif to climb up to seventh before a controversial ten-second penalty for leaving the circuit undid all his hard work – despite the fact he had been forced to run wide to avoid a collision.

That time penalty would leave Luke classified back in 15th place at the finish but he more than made up for it with a fine drive in the feature race.

Grabbing the lead at the start when Beganovic failed to get away off the line, Luke would lead every lap at the front despite a brief scare when it seemed like his car was starting to develop an engine issue.

Luckily the issue was nothing worse than a broken heat shield that had impacted on the noise being made by his engine, and Luke was able to bring his car to the flag to secure his first win in the series and a maximum of 25 points, earning him the early championship lead.

“We had a difficult sprint race with the ten-second penalty, but we knew our pace was going to be there in the feature race,” he said. “The car was phenomenal so all the hard work over the winter, the development, the tutoring from Williams, the support from Oli at Hitech – it all came together and the hard work paid off.

“There was a brief scare when I thought we had an engine issue but it turned out to be some damage to the exhaust and it didn’t impact on the performance. We’ve done well this weekend but we can’t just sit back and relax – it’s full push from here.”