In changeable conditions at Rockingham Motor Speedway, Felipe Nasr claimed the 2011 British Formula 3 Championship with a solid podium finish.
The Brazilian came home 3rd behind race winner Kevin Magnussen and 2nd place man Pietro Fantin, with Nasr ensuring he could not be caught in the points standings.
With two safety car periods lasting six of the twenty-four laps, the final British Formula 3 race was littered somewhat by accidents in the midfield as the drivers battled hard for positions.
For Magnussen, the win – his fifth of the year – lifted the Dane to second in the Championship, ensuring that the battle for British Formula 3 runner-up was still on.
The Carlin pilot led every lap of the forty-minute event, aided by a stellar jump off the line. Starting 3rd, Magnussen slotted behind front-row pair Fantin and Nasr, before forcing his way through to the lead at the second corner.
Finding himself on the outside of the turn exiting Deene, Fantin also feel behind Nasr. Although Magnussen stayed ahead, the Dane never pulled away from his followers, choosing instead to maintain his Volkswagen-powered machine in the slowly drying conditions.
As the circuit dried, Magnussen fell close to the Nasr / Fantin battle, however the Carlin-pilot maintained a small gap over the final tours to take the win and twenty points.
“It didn’t get a lot drier [late on], it seemed quite stable, but obviously it dried up a little bit, so you had to take care of the tyres a little bit.
It was all about trying to find out how much you needed to push. In conditions like this, it is very easy to make a mistake and I knew that Pietro [Fantin] would be pushing as hard as he could, so I tried to hold the gap.”
Nasr, on the other hand, was keenly aware of Fantin’s presence, but even more aware that he only needed a top four place to secure the title today. As the race developed, Fantin pressed upon the tail of the Carlin pilot, eventually securing 2nd spot with a move at Deene on the fifteenth lap.
With 4th place Will Buller several seconds behind, Nasr let Fantin go to chase Magnussen for the lead. Fantin rued his loss at the first turn, but remained happy with the result:
“The start was not too bad, but there was a little wheelspin. At the first corner, I broke too late trying to defend and went wide, but I knew by making no mistakes that I could have positions back. Felipe [Nasr] made a mistake at turn one and I got his position.
I found that it was getting close to slick [tyre conditions], but it was already too late in the race, so there was no point. It was slippery to drive in the wets, so we needed to find the water to keep them cool.”
By far the most pleased man on circuit was new champion, Felipe Nasr.
“It feels awesome, it’s a great feeling. I still have to try to keep winning to keep my name near the top and I will not give up now. In the race, it got slippery and I struggled near the end as my tyres were wearing, so once I saw I couldn’t catch [the leaders], I just finished the race.”
Buller, meanwhile, made the best of another good start. The County Down man jumped from the fifth row, to 5th by the first turn, making that 4th with a move on Jack Harvey six laps in. Harvey lost another spot to Jazeman Jaafar one turn later, as the Briton battled hard to maintain traction of the greasy surface, although Harvey maintained his top-six position to the flag.
It was another solid result for Scott Pye. The Australian jumped from 11th on the grid to 9th – aided, admittedly, by Hywel Lloyd clashing with Menasheh Idafar in the opening corners – a crash that brought out the first safety car. As Double R teammate Pipo Derani also fell off the circuit, Pye gained another spot, before a lap 14 pass on Harry Tincknell secured 7th for the race two winner.
Fortec’s Tincknell took a quiet 8th ahead of recent Rookie Class promotee, Bart Hylkema (T-Sport). Hylkema stole numerous spots from those fell off the circuit; however a mid-race move on the ill Lucas Foresti made sure the Dutch pilot secured his second points paying finish of the year.
Fahmi Ilyas (Fortec) had something of an adventurous race. Having started on the seventh row, the Malaysian pitted on the fourth lap for a new nose; however Ilyas persevered to climb to 10th as others dropped off the times sheet.
Yann Cunha was looking to a potential points finish, when he lost his T-Sport machine at Tarzan on the tenth lap – with his Dallara in an unsafe position, the safety car was recalled for a further three laps, closing the field up once again.
Kotaro Sakurai enjoyed his second Rookie Class win of the season. The Japanese youngster lapped Luca Orlandi on his way to the class victory, eventually finishing 13th overall. Sakurai was happy not just to have won, but to have survived the conditions:
“It was really difficult conditions – absolutely different from before. It was a really greasy track and we stayed on the rain tyres; which is really difficult to control – many cars went off.”
Round nine of the British Formula 3 Series takes place at Donington Park in three weeks time.
2011 British F3 Rnd of Rockingham (Rd 8, Race 3, 24 laps) Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Kevin Magnussen Carlin Dallara-VW 40m10.018s 2. Pietro Fantin Hitech Dallara-VW + 0.691s 3. Felipe Nasr Carlin Dallara-VW + 4.579s 4. William Buller Fortec Dallara-Merc + 8.721s 5. Jazeman Jaafar Carlin Dallara-VW + 9.271s 6. Jack Harvey Carlin Dallara-VW + 15.077s 7. Scott Pye Double R Dallara-Merc + 17.325s 8. Harry Tincknell Fortec Dallara-Merc + 29.851s 9. Bart Hylkema T-Sport Dallara-VW + 31.270s 10. Fahmi Ilyas Fortec Dallara-Merc + 33.123s 11. Carlos Huertas Carlin Dallara-VW + 33.826s 12. Lucas Foresti Fortec Dallara-Merc + 47.776s 13. Kotaro Sakurai Hitech Dallara-Mugen + 55.400s 14. Luca Orlandi West-Tec Dallara-Mugen + 1 lap Retirements: Adderly Fong Sino Vision Dallara-Merc 18 laps Yann Cunha T-Sport Dallara-VW 8 laps Pipo Derani Double R Dallara-Merc 5 laps Rupert Svendsen-Cook Carlin Dallara-VW 5 laps Hywel Lloyd Sino Vision Dallara-Merc 0 laps Menasheh Idafar T-Sport Dallara-VW 0 laps 2011 British F3 Rnd of Rockingham (Rd 8, Race 3) Pos Driver Point Championship Class 1. Felipe Nasr 297 C 2. Kevin Magnussen 174 3. William Buller 171 4. Carlos Huertas 166 5. Jazeman Jaafar 159 6. Rupert Svendsen-Cook 144 Rookie Class 1. Kotaro Sakurai 300 2. Bart Hylkema 214 3. Luca Orlandi 45