A thoroughly dominating performance by Valtteri Bottas saw the young Finn romp to his first British Formula 3 victory this morning.
In damp and tricky conditions, the newly crowned GP3 champion launched his Double R Mercedes from 3rd on the grid to the lead by the first turn.
Once out front, the Finn never looked like being caught, as he sped toward a 14.2 second victory over the thirteen lap distance.
“I had a really good start. The guys in front spun their wheels a bit. In conditions like this it’s good to be in front and just be able to focus on driving and finding the dry lines. I pushed at first to make a gap and then after that I did not take any big risks.”
Having not run in Formula 3 since the close of last season, this weekend offers Bottas precious familiarisation time as he prepares for the classic Macau Grand Prix in November.
William Buller had a far busier run to 2nd place. The County Down man was squeezed off the line by Bottas, immediately settling into a hotly contested battle with Harry Tincknell and Scott Pye.
Come the eighth lap, the trio chased each other hard, before Pye – seeing a gap – ran Buller wide at Melbourne Hairpin, allowing Tincknell to slot down the inside and take both of them; however Buller retook the initiative – and 2nd place – at Goddards on the following lap.
There would be no comeback for Pye and Tincknell. As Buller escaped, the pair clashed at McLean’s, dropping Tincknell to 5th – Pye, meanwhile, would pull to the pits to retire with damage.
This gave the final podium spot to T-Sport’s Menasheh Idafar. The Anglo-Bahraini made a storming start from 11th on the grid to be 6th by the end of the opening lap. Idafar gained another place with a move on Carlin’s Jazeman Jaafar on the third lap and was catching the Buller / Pye / Tincknell scrap when the latter two fell off the road.
The T-Sport man continued to set a stellar pace in the final few tours, eventually getting to within two-tenths of Buller as they crossed the line.
Jaafar discovered 4th place tough going as the race drew to a close. Having lost a podium place, Tincknell closed in on the Malaysian, pushing hard, although not hard enough to break the Carlin racer. As they took the flag, only a quarter-of-a-second would separate the duo.
Carlos Huertas assumed the final points position in 6th, but like those ahead of him, Huertas had to fight for it. Indeed, the Colombian held a line of cars at bay – led by Lucas Foresti (7th), with Rupert Svendsen-Cook (8th) and Jack Harvey (9th) in close proximity.
On a track that is difficult to pass at the best of time, the foursome drew across the line, split by a mere 1.365 seconds, as they fought hard in the final turns. It could well have been a pack of five across the line had Double R’s Pipo Derani not lost his machine at Goddard’s on the ninth lap.
Felipe Nasr rounded out the top ten after starting on dry tyres, despite the damp conditions. Having started 20th, it took several laps for Nasr’s Cooper shod-tyres to come up to temperature, with the Brazilian making up several spots before the end.
Nasr pipped Yann Cunha (11th, T-Sport), the quick starting Adderly Fong (12th, Sino Vision) and Hywel Lloyd (13th, Sino Vision) on the final lap while the wet tyres began to lose their efficiency.
Kevin Magnussen came home 16th, some way behind Hitech Racing pair Pietro Fantin (14th) and Max Snegirev (15th).
Despite initially being on wets, Magnussen pitted at the end of the warm-up lap to change to slick rubber; however starting so far behind the field the pack left the Dane wandering in no mans land for much of the event.
Only Fahmi Ilyas finished behind Magnussen – the Fortec pilot claiming 17th place at the flag. A first lap incident saw Bart Hylkema retired with damaged suspension.
Kotaro Sakurai also retired on the eighth lap, meaning no Rookie Class drivers finished the event.
2011 British F3 Rnd of Donington (Rd 9, Race 2) Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Valtteri Bottas Double R Dallara-Merc 20m39.657s 2. Will Buller Fortec Dallara-Merc + 14.247s 3. Menasheh Idafar T-Sport Dallara-VW + 14.429s 4. Jazeman Jaafar Carlin Dallara-VW + 24.456s 5. Harry Tincknell Fortec Dallara-Merc + 24.712s 6. Carlos Huertas Carlin Dallara-VW + 27.200s 7. Lucas Foresti Fortec Dallara-Merc + 27.347s 8. Rupert Svendsen-Cook Carlin Dallara-VW + 27.813s 9. Jack Harvey Carlin Dallara-VW + 28.596s 10. Felipe Nasr Carlin Dallara-VW + 31.965s 11. Yann Cunha T-Sport Dallara-VW + 34.688s 12. Adderly Fong Sino Vision Dallara-Merc + 35.185s 13. Hywel Lloyd Sino Vision Dallara-Merc + 35.555s 14. Pietro Fantin Hitech Dallara-VW + 40.681s 15. Maxim Snegirev Hitech Dallara-VW + 44.743s 16. Kevin Magnussen Carlin Dallara-VW + 52.772s 17. Fahmi Ilyas Fortec Dallara-Merc + 54.088s Retirements: Scott Pye Double R Dallara-Merc 10 laps Pipo Derani Double R Dallara-Merc 8 laps Kotaro Sakurai Hitech Dallara-Mugen 5 laps Bart Hylkema T-Sport Dallara-VW 1 lap 2011 British F3 Rnd of Donington (Rd 9, Race 2) Pos Driver Points Championship Class 1. Felipe Nasr 300 2. Carlos Huertas 186 3. William Buller 183 4. Kevin Magnussen 175 5. Jazeman Jaafar 174 6. Rupert Svendsen-Cook 167 7. Lucas Foresti 144 8. Jack Harvey 106 9. Pietro Fantin 100 10. Harry Tincknell 78 11. Scott Pye 58 12. Riki Christodoulou 51 Rookie Class 1. Kotaro Sakurai 323 2. Bart Hylkema 214 3. Luca Orlandi 45