Following on from a tough opening pair of races, Carlos Sainz Jr partially recovered his weekend with a stellar victory in Sunday afternoon’s British F3 feature at Snetterton.
And Sainz Jr did it in tough damp conditions – again. Heavy shower some 45 minutes before the start rendered parts of the circuit sodden; a brief downpour on the parade lap only adding to the difficulty.
Yet, as the field lined-up on the grid, the sun again broke, although it remained cool, ensuring track drying would be a slow process. Wet tyres for the duration, no doubt.
Sainz Jr has excelled in these conditions at times this year and this race would be no different. Starting on the outside of the front row, the Spaniard surged ahead as his polesitting teammate Jack Harvey scraped his way off the line.
Also getting a good start from the outside lane was Fortec’s Felix Serralles, who launched passed both Alex Lynn and Harvey to nab 2nd spot. It is at times like these one wonders why pole position and the inside lane of the grid at Snetterton is not on the racing line…
With complete confidence in both his own abilities and mechanisms of his Carlin-Volkswagen, Sainz Jr pulled out a generous early lead, but Serralles’ Mercedes-powered entry hit the optimum – albeit far too late to make the difference.
By halfway, the Spaniard led by just under nine seconds; a gap that extended to 12.4 when he assumed the chequered flag.
“It felt great again. I don’t know why in these conditions we are always fast – I can demonstrate. Regarding the championship, I am not thinking about it any more, especially after yesterday, but I still want to get these kinds of wins and show everyone that with a bit more luck, I might have been in the championship.”
For a time, the leading duo swapped fastest laps – key for Serralles who is in the championship hunt – until the Puerto Rican settled for 2nd and solid points over Harvey.
“It was a good race – I started P4 and ended P2. I like any conditions, so was up it dry or wet. I got a really good start, but didn’t push Sainz, because I knew Harvey was behind me and I was pulling away, so I tried to maintain my pace and finish the race and make no mistakes.
“It dried out about the last five laps, it stayed pretty constant when me, Carlos and Harvey were all pushing for the fastest lap. I think I had the pace to take the race, but I didn’t want to make any mistakes and go off and leave a [points] bigger gap to Harvey.”
However that extra point for fastest lap would not belong to either Sainz Jr or Serralles. Indeed, Sainz Jr probably could have taken it had he not slowed during the last sector on the final lap – something that Carlin might raise should he find himself involved in a future title hunt.
“In the last lap, I backed off on the straight line to see my mechanics – I was setting “purple” “purple”, but in that moment, you are so happy that you are not really thinking about the racing. You are first over the line and you want to, in a way, thank the mechanics.”
For Harvey, 3rd would be his best reward – not exactly was the Lincolnshire desired from his pole position, but he may be content to leave the Snetterton round with the points lead back in his hands.
The top pace did eventually come to Harvey, with the Carlin racer taking the fastest lap point on the penultimate tour.
“I started on new tyres and got a lot of wheelspin. There wasn’t a great deal to do to prevent it and that was that. Also because we were on new tyres, they were a bit of trouble at the start, just when the others were so fast – I couldn’t really say with them, but in the end I was fast enough; it was too late.”
From there, the gaps spread significantly, with 4th place Alex Lynn (Fortec) over 35 seconds adrift of the victor. Far too far ahead of Jazeman Jaafar, but too distant to challenge the leading trio, Lynn settled for a lonely race.
“I was pretty disappointed really. The track was just getting quicker and quicker and I wasn’t quick enough to stay with Jack, but there were big gaps everywhere. It was pretty boring.”
Jaafar’s race was more interesting for a time, as he fought to hold a persuasive Hannes van Asseldonk at bay for a time; however the Dutch pilot’s pursuit ended when went wide at Riches on lap 11, losing eight seconds in the process.
Van Asseldonk kept hold of the position – only just – emerging just ahead of Carlin’s Harry Tincknell; however the Fortec man drew ahead of Tincknell as the laps peeled away.
Brazilian duo Pipo Derani (Fortec) and Pietro Fantin (Carlin) had an enthusiastic battle over 8th and 9th places, eventually won by Derani with a move two laps from the end.
It was something of a recovery effort from Derani, who dropped to 12th (from 7th) at the start. The Fortec racer would be helped by a spinning Nick McBride, before slicing by Adderly Fong and Fahmi Ilyas, eventually reaching the rear of Fantin.
As the laps fell away, Fong held both Fahmi and Geoff Uhrhane at bay for much, but he too would succumb to the pressure from newer cars eventually. That mattered little for the CF Racing / Fong entrant, as he went on to claim all three National Class rounds.
“A good weekend. I had a little trouble on Friday, so thanks to CF Racing for getting the car back up, but got back on track and had good pace all weekend. I’ve driven this circuit in the wet before – this was the track where I learned to drive in the wet.”
There followed a gaggle of National Class cars with Pedro Pablo Calbimonte (13th), Spike Goddard (14th) and Duvashen Padayachee (16th), split by a recovering McBride.
2012 British Formula 3 Round of Snetterton (Rd 8, Race 3, 21 laps) Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Carlos Sainz Jr Carlin-Volkswagen 41:18.082 2. Felix Serralles Fortec-Mercedes +12.413 3. Jack Harvey Carlin-Volkswagen +19.182 4. Alex Lynn Fortec-Mercedes +35.565 5. Jazeman Jaafar Carlin-Volkswagen +45.719 6. Hannes van Asseldonk Fortec-Mercedes +52.926 7. Harry Tincknell Carlin-Volkswagen +1:08.437 8. Pipo Derani Fortec-Mercedes +1:09.382 9. Pietro Fantin Carlin-Volkswagen +1:10.815 10. Fahmi Ilyas Double R-Mercedes +1:24.037 11. Geoff Uhrhane Double R-Mercedes +1:24.173 12. Adderly Fong CF Racing / FONG Mugen Honda +1:28.988 13. Pedro Pablo Calbimonte T-Sport-Mugen Honda +1:55.303 14. Richard Goddard T-Sport-Mugen Honda +1 lap 15. Nick McBride T-Sport ThreeBond Nissan +1 lap 16. Duvashen Padayachee Double R-Mugen Honda +1 lap
2012 British Formula 3 points standings (Rd 8, Race 3) International Class Pos Driver Points 1. Jack Harvey 252 2. Felix Serralles 248 3. Jazeman Jaafar 232 4. Carlos Sainz Jr 197 5. Alex Lynn 186 6. Harry Tincknell 169 7. Pietro Fantin 145 8. Pipo Derani 117 9. Hannes van Asseldonk 99 10. Nick McBride 79 National Class Pos Driver Points 1. Richard Goddard 331 2. Duvashen Padayachee 297 3. Adderly Fong 161 4. Pedro Pablo Calbimonte 55