Luke opens podium account in Barcelona

On the back of a strong weekend on the streets of Monaco, Luke Browning produced a fine performance on track at Catalunya to score his maiden FIA Formula 3 Championship podium.

The Autosport BRDC Young Driver of Year made the trip to the Spanish circuit having scored his best result on the year in Monte Carlo, where he powered his Hitech Pulse-Eight car to an impressive fourth-place finish.

With a number of his rivals having extensive knowledge of Catalunya, Luke was on the back foot somewhat going into the weekend but it didn’t take long for the rising star to show his pace as he qualified in eleventh place – missing out on a third successive top ten by just 0.036s.

Eleventh however meant that Luke would start the reverse grid sprint race from the front row alongside fellow Williams Driver Academy member Zak O’Sullivan.

Luke tried his hardest to get ahead on the run to turn one at the start but had to slot in behind his fellow Briton and retain second spot before the safety car was deployed to recover a stricken car.

Although O’Sullivan grabbed a small gap on the restart, Luke wasted little time in closing in on his rival – getting a run down the start-finish straight and attempting to grab the lead into the opening corner on both the tenth and eleventh laps.

A second caution period then backed up the field again and meant Luke had to be wise to an attack from Leonardo Fornaroli when the action resumed, keeping his rival at bay as he took the flag in second place.

Eager to try and make forward progress in race two, Luke was fighting in the of pack when unfortunate contact going into turn four left him with damaged suspension, and with no option but to park his car and retire.

Despite that, he retains a top ten championship position heading to the Red Bull Ring at the end of the month for the fifth of what will now be nine events after the decision was taken not to seek a replacement for the Imola meeting that was cancelled last month due to the Italian floods.

“It’s nice to have got my first podium finish under my belt, and although it would have been nice to get a win, I had to put my sensible hat on and make sure I brought the car home,” he said.

“Although race two was a disappointment, I feel I’m getting more and more comfortable with the car now even though it’s still a big learning curve going to circuits that are largely new to me. With the help of the team, and from Williams, we’re pushing hard to speed up my development curve and I feel it is being reflected in the results.

“At the end of the day, I’m on a huge learning curve and that is what this season is all about, so to now have a podium to my name to be sitting inside the top ten in the standings is a promising position to be in.”