In desperately changeable weather conditions at Brands Hatch, Felipe Nasr destroyed the field to extend his lead in the British Formula 3 Championship.
So emphatic was Nasr, fellow podium occupants Lucas Foresti and William Buller were nearly half-a-minutes behind come the flag.
But it was no Sunday drive for the Brazilian – a battle with teammate Rupert Svendsen-Cook and monsoon signalled safety car made sure this win was no easy task.
A reasonable start from 3rd – on a damp, but drying grid – took Nasr by surprise front-row man Adderly Fong, with the Championship leader instantly bringing the challenge to Svendsen-Cook.
Nasr pressed Svendsen-Cook hard for several laps, forcing the issue in Graham Hill Bend on the seventh lap – with the lead in his pocket, Nasr began to pull away. Briefly.
Nine laps in, darkened clouds rolled in dumping the second heavy storm of the day. With rivers flowing across the circuit, the safety car emerged, closing the field together.
Amidst the slips, slides and near offs, Pipo Derani did fall off the circuit at Graham Hill Bend, ended his day early.
When green conditions did return on lap 11, Nasr simply pulled away from the pack at nearly one seconds per lap in a shocking display of wet weather mastery.
Behind the Lead…
Nasr’s lead was helped by a hard fought battle for 2nd spot. For eleven laps, Svendsen-Cook fought off the advances of Pietro Fantin (Hitech Racing), while Foresti (4th) and Buller (5th) stalked. As Svendsen-Cook defended, Fantin continued to attack in more adventurous ways.
It would finally come to a head on lap 22 – seeing a slight gap, Fantin launched his Volkswagen-powered machine down the inside of Paddock Hill Bend, clouting the rear of Svendsen-Cook and tearing down his rear wing.
Fantin, simply spun and returned to the action, albeit down in 10th place. For Svendsen-Cook, his race was over.
This brought Foresti and Buller up to 2nd and 3rd, but nowhere near Nasr.
An Strong Victory
Nasr’s eventual victory – by 24.531 seconds – came with an ease rarely seen in the series, despite the difficult conditions.
As the skies cleared, Nasr pulled further and further away, securing an emphatic victory with no one else in sight.
Realistically, it should have been an easy runner-up prize for Foresti, but two spins by the Brazilian (laps 4 and 24) only drew the Fortec runner toward Buller.
Buller, too, was responsible for a late spin, bringing Jazeman Jaafar and Carlos Huertas into the action.
For all the brief glances, the foursome crossed the line in an unchanged order – with Foresti earning the Sunoco Driver of the Weekend award in the process.
Completing the podium, Buller raised a wry smile, knowing full well the pace had been there, if not the fortune.
Both Jazeman Jaafar and Carlos Huertas had fantastic drives, taking them from midfield starts to 4th and 5th respectively. Jaafar was helped by an excellent start and the occasional mistakes of others; whereas Huertas – slow off the line – took Jack Harvey early on to put him on Jaafar’s tail.
Best Finishes and Steady Runs
For Harvey, it was clearly his best race of the year. The Formula 3 rookie made a good start, keeping a clear head to take a comfortable 6th.
Hywel Lloyd took 7th to deliver the spoils for Sino Vision Racing. The Welshman fought hard with Double R Racing’s Scott Pye for much of the running, with Lloyd winning out by only half-a-second at the flag.
9th place was the best race two winner Harry Tincknell could manage. The Fortec pilot drove a steady race after starting 12th, taking advantage of some retirements to secure his ninth consecutive points finish.
The recovering Fantin assumed the final points finish – the Brazilian was unable to utilise his Hitech machine to penetrate higher.
Yann Cunha was the first to finish outside the points after another quite race. The Brazilian possessed a 35-second advantage over Hitech Racing substitute Max Snegirev.
The Formula 3 returnee spent much of the race battling with Rookie Class drivers Bart Hylkema and Kotaru Sakurai, although it is unlikely his mood was not helped by parking in the wrong grid spot prior to the race start.
Snegirev saved his himself some minor embarrassment by pipping Hylkema to 12th on the final lap; however Hylkema clearly showed confidence in his Mugen Honda-powered T-Sport machine.
The Dutchman showed some relief post-race – having lost out to Sakurai in the first two races in the Rookie Class this weekend, Hylkema reasserted his dominance in the category.
Regardless, it was still a strong drive by the young Sakurai. The Japanese driver battled with Snegirev for a time, showing a long run pace not yet displayed this year. As he continues to find his way with the machinery, he may garner more success in 2011.
The final finisher was the luckless Kevin Magnussen. The Dane had a first lap clash with Fantin that left Magnussen shy of a nosecone – a pitstop for a new nose and slick tyres, seemed a clever strategy, only for pouring to foil the Dane’s efforts.
A second stop for wet tyres followed when the rains returned several minutes later.
What started as a fine weekend for Adderly Fong turned sour fairly quickly. The Sino Vision driver fell from 2nd to 4th by the first turn, following that up with a spin on the eighth lap.
Another spin at Druids ended Fong’s participation two-thirds of the way through the race. Fong was joined in the trap by T-Sport’s Menasheh Idafar, himself a victim of a loss of control.
British F3 Round of Brands Hatch (Rd 4, Race 3) Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Felipe Nasr Carlin Dallara-VW 41m05.110s (26 laps) 2. Lucas Foresti Fortec Dallara-Merc + 24.531s 3. Will Buller Fortec Dallara-Merc + 26.884s 4. Jazeman Jaafar Carlin Dallara-VW + 28.804s 5. Carlos Huertas Carlin Dallara-VW + 30.414s 6. Jack Harvey Carlin Dallara-VW + 34.220s 7. Hywel Lloyd Sino Vision Dallara-Merc + 37.916s 8. Scott Pye Double R Dallara-Merc + 38.507s 9. Harry Tincknell Fortec Dallara-Merc + 42.419s 10. Pietro Fantin Hitech Dallara-VW + 44.488s 11. Yann Cunha T-Sport Dallara-VW + 46.343s 12. Maxim Snegirev Hitech Dallara-VW + 1m21.409s 13. Bart Hylkema T-Sport Dallara-Mugen + 1m22.396s 14. Kotaro Sakurai Hitech Dallara-Mugen + 1m25.172s 15. Kevin Magnussen Carlin Dallara-VW + 1 lap Retirements: Rupert Svendsen-Cook Carlin Dallara-VW 22 laps Menasheh Idafar T-Sport Dallara-VW 16 laps Adderly Fong Sino Vision Dallara-Merc 16 laps Pipo Derani Double R Dallara-Merc 7 laps British F3 Championship Standings (Rd 4, Race 3) Championship Class 1. Felipe Nasr Carlin 154 2. Lucas Foresti Fortec 109 3. Carlos Huertas Carlin 95 4. Jazeman Jaafar Carlin 94 5. William Buller Fortec 63 6. Kevin Magnussen Carlin 61 7. Rupert Svendsen-Cook Carlin 61 8. Pietro Fantin Hitech 55 9. Riki Christodoulou Hitech 51 10. Harry Tincknell Fortec 46 11. Menasheh Idafar T-Sport 27 12. Scott Pye Double R 25 Rookie Class 1. Bart Hylkema T-Sport 161 2. Kotaru Sakurai Hitech 119