As the motorsport world busies itself for an intense battle to be runner-up in Formula 1, a similarly tense fight in brewing in British F3.
A maximum of fifty-four points is available at the season’s final round at Silverstone (October 8th-9th) with five drivers realistically capable to assuming the runner-up spot to 2011 champion Felipe Nasr.
Led by Carlin’s Carlos Huertas, the quintet approach the Silverstone appointment knowing that a victory could be the vital key to 2nd place.
To date, Huertas has amassed 196 points, despite having not yet laid claim to a win in British Formula 3; however the Carlin pilot has attained his position with some consistent points scoring runs.
In the twenty-seven races that have taken place so far this season, Huertas has notched up points in twenty-three off them, including seven podium spots.
Huertas possesses a minute advantage over 3rd place man Kevin Magnussen; however the pair could not have reached their current totals in a more different fashion. Magnussen – another from the Carlin stables – has collected six wins so far this season in a season peppered with poor luck.
Persistent unreliability earlier in the season was traced to a batch of faulty spark plugs; however the Dane was also on the receiving end of several collisions, most notably at Paul Ricard when he punted out of near certain victory by Antonio Felix da Costa.
In terms of race form, Magnussen holds the advantage, but he will have to wary of the man next up on the list.
Fortec Racing’s William Buller holds 4th in the title hunt, 13 points shy of Huertas. The Northamptonshire-based racer endured a difficult start to the season as incidents and mechanical gremlins hampered his push, but his speed was apparent from the get go, as his double-pole run at Monza testified.
Buller took three podiums before finally crossing the finish line victorious at Paul Ricard in July. Two further British Formula 3 wins and several podiums have vaulted the Fortec man up the order and into a position to challenge for higher honours.
Rupert Svendsen-Cook trails Buller by a further four points. Svendsen-Cook appeared to be on the outside looking in prior to last weekend’s penultimate round of the season, yet two podiums at Donington propelled the Ipswich-born driver to 5th in the standings.
Like Buller, Svendsen-Cook’s speed has been apparent on a number of occasions this year, but far too often the races have gone against him. Two wins and six podiums have helped his cause, but with a 16 point gap to Huertas, the situation looks a little less rosy.
Jazeman Jaafar is another four points adrift; however the young Malaysian has not yet stood on the victory step this season.
Some consistent runs (four podiums and eight 4th place finishes) have kept in sight of the runner-up spot, but the gap to Huertas may simply be too big to close in a single weekend.
One time championship contender Lucas Foresti also has a mathematical chance of the runner-up position, but a tough second-half of the season has seen the plucky Brazilian fall down the order.
Foresti is 49 points behind Huertas meaning the four ahead would have to suffer a catastrophic weekend – and he a stellar one – to overcome the margin.
The final round of the 2011 British Formula 3 Series takes place over the 8th and 9th of October at Silverstone.
2011 British F3 Championship Standings (Rd 9) Pos Driver Points International Class 1. Felipe Nasr 302 (Champion) 2. Carlos Huertas 196 3. Kevin Magnussen 195 4. William Buller 183 5. Rupert Svendsen-Cook 179 6. Jazeman Jaafar 175 7. Lucas Foresti 147 8. Pietro Fantin 106