Luke returns to the top with stunning Austrian display

Luke Browning will go into his home round of the FIA Formula 3 Championship at Silverstone as the man to beat after returning to the top of the points standings in fine style at the Red Bull Ring.

The talented Cheshire racer made the trip to Austria for the sixth event of the campaign on the back of a solid weekend in Spain, in which he had maintained his impressive record of finishing inside the top five in every feature race this season.

The Hitech Pulse-Eight kicked off the weekend with a solid performance in free practice, where he ended up with the third quickest time, which left confidence high going into qualifying.

There, Luke produced an astonishing performance as he lapped nearly a tenth of a second quicker than anyone else to secure his maiden series pole position, even without the use of a tow during the session.

Luke’s bid to secure a strong result in the reverse grid sprint race took a hit before the start when he was handed a three place penalty after stewards deemed him to have impeded Dino Beganovic during qualifying.

The sprint race would be an element of ‘what might have been’ for Luke, with the Williams Academy-backed racer making progress up towards the points scoring positions in the opening half of the race before a move on former ADAC F4 team-mate Tim Tramnitz allowed him to move into the top ten.

Unfortunately for Luke, his good work would be undone when he was forced to take avoiding action when two drivers clashed ahead, costing him places and resulting in him taking the flag in eleventh spot.

Undeterred, Luke then took his place at the head of the field for Sunday morning’s feature race and when the lights went out, the young Briton made the perfect start to head the field into turn one for the first time.

With every other driver behind able to benefit from the additional speed created by using DRS, Luke was able to control proceedings from the front, maintaining enough of a gap that – even with DRS – Beganovic was unable to get close enough to make a serious move for position.

When Beganovic then came under pressure from his team-mate Gabriele Minì in the closing stages, it allowed Luke to break clear from the squabbling behind, and he made the most of good tyre management in the early stages to take victory by 1.6s second.

Such had been the impact of DRS during the race, Luke’s fastest lap was only the 24th quickest of the 30 cars in the field – a fact that made his lights-to-flag victory all the more impressive.

“It might have looked easy, but that was one of the toughest races because we had to manage the tyres and also deal with the fact that there are three DRS zones where the cars behind were able to close in,” he said. “I worked hard to save the tyres as much as I could in the early part of the race and didn’t push too much, which then helped in the closing stages.

“When the others started to fight towards the end, it was my signal to push and I was able to get more than a second clear – meaning they could no longer use the DRS to close in. I have to give huge credit to the team because the car was fantastic today and there couldn’t be a better time to retake the championship lead than going into my home race at Silverstone.

“I’ve got my eyes firmly fixed on fighting for pole and another win next weekend, and I can’t wait to get back on track in front of the British fans.”

Luke’s second win of the campaign moves him onto 106 points, and leaves him eleven clear of Minì at the top.