Alpine academy driver Victor Martins has no regrets over the decision that led to him temporarily leaving the programme in 2020.
The Frenchman joined the Renault academy in 2018 but after being narrowly beaten to the Formula Renault Eurocup title by Oscar Piastri in 2019, he opted to stay in the series for another year rather than move up to Formula 3 as the team wanted, leading to the two parties splitting up.
He went on to win the Eurocup title in 2020 and was thus brought back into the academy, now rebranded to Alpine along with the Formula 1 team, and given a spot in F3 for 2021. Given how things have worked out, he is happy with his decisions.
“A driver always wants to move up to the next level. It was a difficult decision to make with my personal management,” he told the French version of Motorsport.com.
“Of course, I knew I potentially had the opportunity to be in F3 already for 2020. But when I think back today to how I was, I tell myself it was really not the right time and that I still had a lot to learn.
“Maybe I didn’t have the opportunity to be in a top team that would allow me to show myself at the forefront. We have to go through difficult times. It strengthened me mentally.
“Today, I’m that much more proud and I tell myself this was really the right path to take.”
Meet our 2021 #AlpineAcademy line-up!
Competing in FIA Formula 2:
Guanyu Zhou, Christian Lundgaard and Oscar Piastri
Competing in FIA Formula 3:
Caio Collet and Victor Martins pic.twitter.com/Cnarj3KVXY
— Alpine F1 Team (@AlpineF1Team) February 10, 2021
Martins has driven alongside fellow Alpine juniors Piastri and Christian Lundgaard on multiple occasions as the three have made their way through the ranks.
While he is only just entering F3, the other two will be in Formula 2 in 2021 and are widely considered to be in contention for an F1 seat.
Martins admits that can be frustrating, but he is trying not to pay much attention to it.
“During the 2020 season, I just learned how important it is to focus on myself and not on others,” he added.
“I can be frustrated if I see Christian and Oscar in Formula 2 and me still in Formula Renault, but I think the most important thing for me is to focus on myself, to continue to develop my skills and improve myself well as a person and as a driver as well.
“I tried to tell myself this was the opportunity to go through situations I had not experienced in previous years – leading the championship instead of being second and chasing another driver.
“I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished. I can hardly be more ready [for the step up] than I am today.”