Luke stuns with Bahrain recovery drive

Rising star Luke Browning marked himself out as one to watch during the 2023 FIA Formula 3 season with an astonishing performance on track during the opening weekend of the year in Bahrain.

Luke had secured his place on the grid at the eleventh hour having been confirmed as the final on the grid with the Hitech Pulse-Eight team that carried him to the GB3 title last year.

The Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year kicked off his debut weekend with a strong run to fourth spot in free practice although a more challenging qualifying session would leave him back in 17th on the grid for both races – despite lapping six tenths of a second quicker than in practice.

Saturday’s sprint race would end in disappointment when Luke was forced to retire after contact at turn one following a safety car period damaged his car and left him stranded on circuit.

However, when the feature race kicked off on Sunday, Luke wasted little time in showing his talent as he produced one of the drives of the weekend to storm through the field to cross the line in sixth spot; a penalty for team-mate Gabriele Mini meaning he would ultimately be classified in fifth.

It means Luke comes away from his first weekend in the series heading the Hitech Pulse-Eight challenge in seventh place ahead of round two in Australia at the end of the month.

“We had a really tough weekend to start off with,” he said. “Every single push lap in qualifying I think I was blocked, and then on the lap when I got blocked the least, I made a small mistake that meant I was back in 17th on the grid.

“Things were so close that a few-tenths of a second was the difference between being in the top seven and being 17th, and then we had the disappointment of being forced to retire from the opening race.

“However, in race two, I feel we were able to really show what our race pace actually is, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the rest of the season goes.”

Luke was full of praise for the team on the back of the weekend, with focus now turning towards round two at Albert Park and a new event for the series.

“I’ve literally rocked up at the first round but Hitech did a great job of making me as prepared as possible, using the simulator back at the workshop,” he said. “We knew our race runs from testing were really strong and thankfully, I could show that in today’s race.

“I think nailing qualifying is crucial going forwards. Luckily we just managed to just sort it out after a tough qualifying but it really does seem to be the key. If you can qualify inside that top twelve and stay in contention on the reverse grid and for both races, you’ll be in a good position instead of having to fight through the pack.”