BUDAPEST: Kush Maini, driving car No. 12 with the Mumbai Falcons livery, drove a mature and balanced race as he made his way to his first podium in FIA Formula 3 in front of a packed crowd that will also see the Formula 1 race this weekend.
Showers just before the beginning of the 'sprint race', which is run over 40 minutes, made sure the race was declared a 'wet' race and started behind the safety car, which did two 'formation laps' to give the drivers a chance to understand the tricky track conditions.
The two safety car interventions made sure that Kush fought his way through and found himself in P5. In the fight for fourth, Maini was a man on a mission in the second MP Motorsport car, diving down the inside of Martins and then setting about putting Isack Hadjar under pressure, while the leading duo began to pull away from the pack.
Hadjar's wide line on to the run-off at Turn 13 gave Maini a chance to overtake him. The Indian had no hesitation in breezing past Hadjar at Turn 4 and forcing him to go on the defensive from fellow Red Bull junior Jak Crawford. It was clear that the Frenchman's tyres had fallen off their cliff as he slowly started to slip down the order behind Crawford and Arthur Leclerc and straight into Victor Martins' eyeline.
With his heart set on a maiden Formula 3 podium, Maini refused to give up the fight, going side-by-side with Crawford on the penultimate lap as the MP Motorsport driver attempted to break the tow. Thankfully for him, the move paid off and the American driver dropped back, ultimately getting caught out in late drama and coming together with his teammate Leclerc.
"I am extremely happy that finally my pace converted to a podium and I was able to fight my way from P7. Really proud of my team MP to give me a competitive car and gave me the chance to stand on the podium. This definitely gives me confidence going into the race tomorrow (later on Sunday) and I will give it my best," said Maini.
The feature race will take place later on Sunday with Kush starting P5.