Bruno Junqueira goes to Spa this weekend with a strong chance of joining countrymen Roberto Moreno and Ricardo Zonta as an FIA F3000 champion. The Brazilian looked set to walk away with this year's title, so dominant was he in the early races, but a run of three events with no scores allowed Nicolas Minassian to catch up. The Williams test driver bounced back with his fourth win of the year in Hungary last time out. It left him seven points clear of the Frenchman, who now has to win the finale in Belgium. Adam Cooper spoke to Junqueira about his prospects.
Q: Your year seems to have gone a bit like Michael Schumacher's. You had a big lead and then it disappeared...
"Exactly. After Monaco I had a 20-point lead, and then for three races I didn't score points. In Magny-Cours I had a problem in the second qualifying session and came down to ninth. I made a good start, but someone hit me and I spun and went behind. In Austria I got up to seventh after qualifying badly. And then in Hockenheim qualifying was again a problem, and I made a mistake before the gearbox broke. I made mistakes, I had car problems, I had traffic in qualifying, and a little bit of bad luck. It's normal in a year to have two or three bad races, but it all happened together, while Minassian had some good scores."
Q: Were you relieved that things turned around for you?
"I came to Hungary and knew I had to get a good result. But on the other hand I knew that even when I had problems I was on the pace every time, and I still had confidence in myself, which helped a lot. In the end everything ran alright and it was a perfect race - I had the pole, I won the race, and Minassian finished fourth."
Q: Do you think the pressure is more on him now, because he has to win?
"No, because I really want to win and I want to finish in front of him at Spa to make sure. It could easily happen that he wins and I don't score points - it already happened twice, and I won't let it happen another time. I like Spa. I think Spa and Silverstone are my favourite circuits. I'll try to do a good race there."
Q: Are you talking to F1 teams about next year?
"I don't think it's wrong to talk, but I started to talk and the results started to come down. Before Hockenheim I stopped talking, and I decided that I have to concentrate on the F3000 championship. Because it ends early in the season I think I still have time to find something for next year. I hope that I can find a good team."
Q: How hopeful are you of landing an F1 seat?
"I don't know. I'm not optimistic, I'm just trying to stay away from this, because I don't want to have a big frustration if I don't get an F1 drive. On the other hand because I'm not hoping too much, if I get it, it will be very good for me, and I will be really happy. I think I've learned in the past that I have to do my job and try to get a good team, and see what happens."
Q: What's the alternative if you don't get a fulltime drive in F1?
"I have a possibility to go to CART, and I also have to think about being a test driver. I like to race, but you can learn testing. If Jenson was staying at Williams, there might be more opportunities to test next year, but a new driver needs time. At the start of this year I wasn't doing many tests, but at the end of the year I will do much more, because Jenson already has a handle on the car and doesn't need to test so much."
Emilia Romagna / Results
|5||Carlos Sainz Jr.||2h03m01.634s|
Standings / After 2 races
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|Monaco||Monte Carlo||23 May|
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Rome / Results
Standings / After 4 races
|5||Nyck de Vries||32|
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|Valencia||Valencia||24 Apr 2021|
|Valencia||Valencia||25 Apr 2021|
|Monaco||Monte Carlo||8 May 2021|
|Marrakesh||Marrakesh||22 May 2021|
|Santiago||Parque O'Higgins||5 Jun 2021|
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