Niko Kari: “It was great to get my first podium in F3”

Niko Kari secured his maiden FIA European Formula 3 Championship podium finish during Saturday’s opening race at the Hungaroring, and believes he has made a step forward in performance in just his second weekend in the championship.

The 2015 SMP F4 Champion and Red Bull-backed Motopark driver drove a strong race to claim the runners-up spot behind fellow rookie Ralf Aron in race one, but bemoaned his luck in the other two races of the weekend.

“I am happy with that,” said Kari. “It was great to get my first podium in F3 and that certainly gives me more confidence. Otherwise there was a bit of bad luck with puncture in Race 2 and being pushed off in Race 3 this morning.

“Still it was a very good weekend and a real step forward.”

Kari admitted he did not have the performance in his tyres to challenge Aron for victory towards the end of the opening race, but felt happy with the result and his first Formula 3 podium.

“For Race 1 I concentrated on managing the tyres and watching what the other guys were doing so as they lost grip I could move up,” said Kari.

“In the end I too had worn tyres as I was trying to catch Aron for the win but that’s OK I was happy enough with second.”

Kari admitted his disappointment after picking up a puncture during race two, with the Finn then being spun around by a rival during Sunday’s race three, but the sixteen-year-old was happy to fight back to finish eighth and some more points.

“[It was] bad luck to pick up a puncture in Race 2 because I was expecting another good result,” revealed Kari. “We knew that today [Sunday] was going to be difficult from 13th on the grid and it was very wet. But I could work my way up, got up to about P7 and then got pushed off.

“I wasn’t happy about that, dropped back to about P13 and had to fight my way through again so P8 wasn’t a bad finish considering but it should have been much better.”