Following a four-week break, the Cooper Tyres British Formula 3 Series switches from the warm climes of Pau to the rather more chilly atmosphere of Rockingham in England’s North-East.
However, it’s not just the weather that differs between these two disparate European venues – the challenge of the circuit significantly alters too.
Where Pau indulged those with an intricate street fighter spirit, Rockingham is kinder to drivers who appreciate top end speed, mixed with a touch of twisty technique.
Made up of a half-oval and half tight-infield layout, the circuit challenges drivers and teams alike to uncover the sweet spot between maximising high speed sector for overtaking, while also creating a neutral balance for the infield.
While most circuits hold this challenge, few are full throttle for a long, while also slowing quite dramatically as Rockingham.
As such, Carlin’s Carlos Sainz Jr will be hoping to nail his sums right during today’s practice sessions. The Spaniard currently leads the British F3 Series by three-points from teammate Jazeman Jaafar, while Jack Harvey sits a further eighteen points adrift in 3rd.
All eyes may well be on Fortec however, as their quartet of drivers – currently led in the standings by Felix Serralles – aim to claw back some of the deficit to the top spot.
Serralles has been one of the surprise packages of 2012, after taking two early season wins, yet during mid-season testing at Rockingham two weeks ago, the Puerto Rican was some distant of teammates Alex Lynn and Hannes van Asseldonk on the timesheets.
Lynn currently inhabits 5th in points standings, with van Asseldonk a disappointing 9th – both will be on the lookout for big scores this weekend to jumpstart their title charges.
In the National Class, Richard ‘Spike’ Goddard has led every step of the way and currently holds a 39-point lead over his sole rival Duvashen Padayachee, although the Australian will be looking to claw at least some of that back this weekend.
This is merely the beginning of a busy period for British Formula 3, as rounds at Brands Hatch, Norisring and Spa-Francorchamps begin to loom large.
So far, the British F3 Series has delivered five different race winners in 2012, with the championship lead changing at every round thus far. Let’s see if this trend continues at Rockingham.
Qualifying kicks off at Rockingham from 10:45am on Saturday (June 9th), with the opening race commencing at 3:15pm. The remaining two races roll off from 10:40am and 1:50pm on Sunday June 10th.
2012 British Formula 3 Series points standings (after Rd 3) Pos Driver Points International Class 1. Carlos Sainz (Carlin) 104 points 2. Jazeman Jaafar (Carlin) 101 3. Jack Harvey (Carlin) 83 4. Felix Serralles (Fortec) 73 5. Alex Lynn (Fortec) 64 National class: 1. Spike Goddard (T-Sport) 141 2. Duvashen Padayachee (Double R) 102