2011 GP3 regular Alexander Sims claimed his first British Formula 3 victory at a damp and breezy Silverstone this morning.
The 23-year-old made a late decision to change to wet tyres on the grid – a choice that proved to be a masterstroke for the victorious Sims.
Sims did not lead the distance though. Fortec’s Lucas Foresti led off the line from his second-row starting position, with Sims following through into 2nd.
Pietro Fantin was the loser off the line, dropping into the 3rd as the leading trio battled hard in the opening few turns.
While Fantin dropped back, Sims clung tight to the rear of Foresti, before engaging in a wheel-to-wheel battle with the Brazilian on the fourth tour, eventually cementing the lead in the new section.
Once ahead, Sims charged away from the Fortec, crossing the flag after ten laps with a lead of 7.89 seconds ahead of runner up Foresti. Sims was calmly delighted with the win:
“There were dry patches on the circuit, but I had been monitoring the circuit for the last hour or so before the race and it didn’t seem to be drying massively and couldn’t get any temperature in the slicks. It was going to take too long for the slicks to work, so I went to wets and every lap we were faster than the guys on slicks.
It [the fight with Foresti] was fun, down at Vale, the chicane. I went for a move and he started to close straight away and I had kind of half committed, so backed out it, but still touched wheels. I tried not to screw his race – I’m not here to do that – and let him take the lead back again and then into Brooklands, I got him into there.
The car felt good behind the other guys and also in free air. It all went according to plan. Every time, we are second-guessing the conditions, but we can pressure the guys ahead.”
Foresti, while pleased to be on the podium, was disappointed to not have taken another top spot, but was comfortable with his early tyre choice:
“There was a little too much spray on the warm-up, so I decided on wets for the race – I did that in Brands Hatch and thought I would try that again. [Sims] has more experience than me, he overbraked me and doesn’t have any fight in the championship. ”
Fantin held his head in 3rd, but could not keep up to the leading pair. With little behind to worry the Hitech runner, Fantin closed in on the finish to claim his fourth podium of the season.
“The track was still damp [at the start] and really slippy. We made a good choice on the grid for wets and it was the best choice after two laps to the grid. The start was good itself, but Foresti still got passed me. After that, I maintained my speed and drove for the podium.”
Without doubt, the star drive of the day goes to T-Sport’s Menasheh Idafar. The Bahraini started 19th on the grid, but was already 5th come the end of the opening circulation.
A second lap overtake on Carlin’s Carlos Huertas brought Idafar to 4th, garnering the T-Sport man seven precious points.
Pipo Derani also made a stellar start, jumping from 14th to 8th after the first lap. The Double-R pilot claimed three more places on the second tour as the field sorted itself out; however the Brazilian had to fight for it late on.
On his tail, quite literally, were Carlin duo Jack Harvey and Felipe Nasr. As Derani’s wet Cooper tyres wore late in the race, both Harvey and Nasr caught the Double R man, with Derani holding 5th by 0.5 of-a-second at the line.
It was closer still between Harvey and Nasr. The pair finished the race with wheels almost interlocked, split by one-hundredth of a second in a startling climax for 6th.
A boost from Nasr late in the race brought him to 7th. Having started on dries, the Brazilian struggled initially for grip, but pulled himself back up the order
A late charge from Kevin Magnussen rewarded the Dane with 8th; however the Dane had been expecting more.
Assuming the track might dry out, Magnussen started on the slick Cooper tyres, but while Magnussen did not lose any positions, he struggled to make a move in the early stages.
For a time, Magnussen tracked Nasr and later Huertas, before taking the Colombian with three laps to go, earning the Dane 8th position.
For Huertas, a promising result turned disastrous with each lap. A poor start for the Carlin man dropped him from 3rd to 5th off the line, with the Colombian loses spots to Derani, Harvey, Nasr and Magnussen by the seventh lap as he struggled on the dry Cooper rubber.
Yann Cunha was closing in on Huertas as the race came to a close, eventually scoring 10th position. It was a solid performance by the T-Sport man to take only his third points scoring result of the season.
As expected in the damp conditions, the opening lap saw a clash of carbon fibre. Racing through the opening turn at Copse, Hywel Lloyd spun on his slick tyres, clipping Scott Pye in the process.
Bart Hylkema, attempting to avoid the spinning Lloyd, clipped his right front wheel of another machine, destroying the suspension in the process. Both Lloyd and Hylkema retired on the spot, while Pye pitted for new tyres, dropping the Australian to last.
Fahmi Ilyas was another non-finisher. The Fortec pilot spun his Mercedes-powered Dallara into the gravel, retiring him on the spot.
2011 British F3 Rnd of Silverstone Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Alexander Sims Motopark-Volkswagen 21:39.508 2. Lucas Foresti Fortec-Mercedes +7.897 3. Pietro Fantin Hitech-Volkswagen +14.187 4. Menasheh Idafar T-Sport-Volkswagen +18.593 5. Pipo Derani Double R-Mercedes +28.037 6. Jack Harvey Carlin-Volkswagen +28.597 7. Felipe Nasr Carlin-Volkswagen +28.609 8. Kevin Magnussen Carlin-Volkswagen +29.948 9. Carlos Huertas Carlin-Volkswagen +38.211 10. Yann Cunha T-Sport-Volkswagen +40.214 11. Mitch Evans Double R-Mercedes +41.811 12. William Buller Fortec-Mercedes +44.270 13. Max Snegirev Hitech-Volkswagen +44.377 14. Guilherme Silva Hitech-Volkswagen +53.041 15. Rupert Svendsen-Cook Carlin-Volkswagen +53.332 16. Harry Tincknell Fortec-Mercedes +1:01.151 17. Adderly Fong Sino Vision-Mercedes +1:03.419 18. Kotaro Sakurai Hitech-Mugen Honda +1:09.040 19. Jazeman Jaafar Carlin-Volkswagen +1:15.127 20. Scott Pye Double R-Mercedes +1:42.334 R. Fahmi Ilyas Fortec-Mercedes +8 laps R. Hywel Lloyd Sino Vision-Mercedes +10 laps R. bart Hylkema T-Sport-Volkswagen +10 laps 2011 British F3 Championship (Rd 10, Race 2) Pos Driver Points International Class 1. Felipe Nasr 318 2. Kevin Magnussen 221 3. Carlos Huertas 202 4. William Buller 189 5. Jazeman Jaafar 185 6. Rupert Svendsen-Cook 179 7. Lucas Foresti 164 8. Pietro Fantin 116 9. Jack Harvey 112 10. Scott Pye 81 11. Harry Tincknell 78 12. Riki Christodoulou 51 Rookie Class 1. Kotaro Sakurai 357 2. Bart Hylkema 214 3. Luca Orlandi 45