Best yet for Luke on the streets of Monaco

Rising star Luke Browning enjoyed his best weekend to date in the FIA Formula 3 Championship with a stunning performance on the famous streets of Monte Carlo.

Luke – the current Autosport BRDC Young Driver of Year – went into the weekend keen to impress as the F3 field tacked the Monaco circuit for the first time, with the third round of the campaign seeing him debut a new look on his Hitech Pulse-Eight car as a result of his recent tie-up with the Williams F1 team.

Hitting the track for the first time for free practice, Luke faced an additional challenge as a result of heavy rain shortly before the start but he was amongst the pace-setters in the worst of the conditions early on.

As conditions improved late on and lap times dropped, Luke eventually found himself classified in 14th place but went into qualifying aware of his potential to run higher up the order.

That would prove to be true in qualifying, which was run in two groups to try and reduce the risk of drivers being hampered by traffic.

Lining up in Group A, Luke was immediately involved in the fight for pole alongside team-mate Sebastián Montoya and Dino Beganovic, with Luke looking set for the best time until Beganovic nosed ahead by just 0.003s.

Luke then went quicker at the start of his final lap before a small error at the Swimming Pool section left him to settle for second spot.

With the fastest time in Group B proving to be the quickest overall and securing pole position for the feature race, Luke and his fellow Group A runners would fill the even slots on the grid – leaving him in fourth spot for the main race.

It would also mean ninth on the grid for the sprint race thanks to the fact that the top twelve in qualifying would be reversed, with Luke managing to get ahead of Caio Collet going through turn one when the lights went out.

With overtaking proving to be near impossible from that point on, Luke would take the flag in eighth place with his best chance of silverware coming in the feature race on Sunday morning.

Retaining his position when the action kicked off, Luke would spend the entire race harrying Paul Aron in a bid to grab third spot but was unable to find a way through and had to settle for fourth, which marks his best result in the series to date.

That was despite the fact that his fastest lap – the second fastest of the race – would be nearly a second quicker than Aron, further showing the importance of track position.

“I think we got unlucky getting picked for Group A in qualifying and then missing out on that group’s pole by three thousandths, which would have been P2,” he admitted. “Obviously then it’s difficult starting P4 to make positions. The pace was just incredible in qualifying considering that we didn’t manage to finish that fourth lap, which was where all the quick times were being done.

“I was super gutted, but still that was my first time qualifying in Monaco and when I look down the grid, there’s not many people that managed to do what we managed to do this weekend considering my experience. I’m super happy with the result and then we missed out on the fastest lap by seven thousandths in the feature race.

“The thousandths didn’t go my way this time, but the pace is super promising. I think we showed in Bahrain and Melbourne just how the pace could be, but we got a lot of bad luck. Sometimes some rookie mistakes crept in, but it looks like the experience is kicking in now and whilst we’re on the wrong side of the thousandths this time, next time I don’t think we will be.”