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'Thrilled' Matias Zagazeta says he was relaxed yet nervous on his way to maiden F3 podium

Written by Vyas Ponnuri

It's always an exciting sight for any driver to grab their maiden podium in any racing series, and the same went for Jenzer racer Matias Zagazeta in Saturday's delayed sprint race. The Peruvian became the first driver from his nation to stand on the podium, and spoke to DIVEBOMB and select media after the sprint race today.

Coming into this weekend's outing, Zagazeta was yet to open his account, let alone stand on the podium. He'd missed the Monaco weekend due to appendicitis, but hadn't been able to bring home any top ten finishes in his rookie season.

As is the case for any driver new to the series, they learn on the go, and the same goes for the Peruvian, who was still finding his feet along the road to Formula One, having taken one podium in his preceding year in the Formula Regional European Championship (FRECA).

This was about to change as he got to Silverstone. One of the finest jewels in the world of motor racing, Silverstone is known to be a joy for any racing driver, the high speed corners in the second half of the lap elevating any driver into another dimension during the race weekend.

While these high speed corners often contribute to the spectacle of any race weekend at Silverstone, the challenge would be amplified by another important factor up above — the rain gods, who had made their presence felt, giving the drivers a true taste of the British summer.

While the rain made its appearance during qualifying on Friday, the weather held off during the final phase of qualifying, providing a late spectacle that saw many drivers go out in a bid to secure a late lap and elevate themselves up the order.

This opened up the opportunities for lesser prominent names to spring into the spotlight right at the business end of the session, with the likes of Rodin Motorsport's Callum Voisin and Joseph Loake climbing the order, the former even securing a spot in the top ten.

It would be a massive moment for Jenzer Motorsport, the team's trio of Max Esterson, Charlie Wurz, and Zagazeta qualifying second, sixth, and tenth respectively, achieving the rare feat of having all three cars in the top ten of a qualifying session.

This tenth position qualifying would translate into starting third for the sprint race on Saturday. However, the contingent of drivers, including Zagazeta, faced a lengthy wait, as torrential downpour overnight soaked the track ahead of the Formula 3 race, causing the series to postpone the first race of the weekend to later in the day.

By the time the drivers took to the grid for their 18-lap sprint outing, the transformation was almost unbelievable, with dense rain clouds giving way to clear skies, the sun peering through onto the track.

Almost seven hours later than scheduled, the drivers lined up on the grid and set off. Pole-sitter Noel Leon, Prema's Arvid Lindblad, and Zagazeta were side-by-side-by-side heading into turns one and two, making for a thrilling spectacle as they debated for the race lead.

Lindblad managed to take the lead from Leon, while Zagazeta would be content to settle into third, and found himself defending from home racer Callum Voisin for the early stages of the race.

While chaos ensued behind and caused multiple interruptions, the top three maintained their own, all through the race.

As the laps counted down, Zagazeta's dream of standing on a Formula 3 podium slowly began to take shape. The Peruvian fans would be watching on with earnest, their countryman on the cusp of something extremely special and emotional.

It can be tense for any driver when they are on the cusp of something they've never achieved before, but Zagazeta later told DIVEBOMB and other select media that he was, in fact, more relaxed and calm on his way to a Formula 3 podium.

"In fact, I was more relaxed and calm," Zagazeta would mention after the sprint. "I even tried to chase down Noel (Leon) ahead (for P2)."

However, nerves can creep in on the biggest of stages, and as the Jenzer racer would reveal to DIVEBOMB, he was also tight with track limit warnings for the race.

"I was also on the edge of track limits (warnings) for the race," Zagazeta would say. "There was also a big train (of cars) coming up behind, so I got a bit nervous towards the end of the race."

Nevertheless, the Peruvian would cross the line, holding his head high as he would finally stand on a podium, more so around one of motor racing's finest abodes. His achievement would be even sweeter, coming on the same day as his dad's birthday.

Having spoken of giving his dad a treat before the race began, this was the best birthday gift he could have given his dad. A podium on the road to Formula One, noticed by the entire paddock, Peru's first appearance on a Formula 3 rostrum, it was truly a day for Zagazeta to remember.

However, he will have a short turnaround tomorrow, with Formula 3 back on track on Sunday for 22 laps around the Silverstone circuit. The feature race begins at 08:20 BST, an early morning for the 30 drivers after a chaotic sprint. With their trio of drivers starting in the top ten, can Jenzer achieve yet more success, and even bring home a victory? Tune in to the feature race to find out.


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