Jack Harvey secured the 2012 British Formula 3 crowd with victory in a tension filled final race at Donington Park yesterday.
The Carlin racer faced pressure from Fortec’s Alex Lynn throughout the season closer, with Harvey’s championship rival Jazeman Jaafar completing the podium.
Indeed, the top five spent much of the race covered by less than 2.5 seconds, as the cool Leicestershire air drew the ever lowering temperatures, erasing grip from an already slick surface.
A darkening sky due to a 6pm start brought further anxieties to the fore, while the competitors tiptoed around the shirking light.
For Harvey, the Lincolnshire man needed only to stay ahead of Jaafar and fellow title contender Felix Serralles to earn the season’s top prize – a feat helped by another confident start. Come the close of the evening, Harvey could not contain his delight.
“This means the world to me. The way Silverstone went for me a couple of weeks ago was really bad, so I came away from there feeling a bit deflated. To finish on top here is just magic.
“Carlin have been incredible. Everybody just presumes that we have good drivers but it’s the team that’s the best – they have the best people at this level and the next few above. The team worked so hard for me and this is for them.”
The 19-year-old did endure one brief scare on lap eleven. Feeling the bite from his brakes ebb away slightly, Harvey came under heavy pressure from Lynn, with the Fortec man dive-bombing Harvey at the Melbourne Hairpin.
It gave Lynn the lead – albeit briefly. Amidst plumes of soft tyre smoke, Lynn overshot the tight corner, allowing Harvey to re-assume the lead upon corner exit. It was a close call for both men; something the newly crowned champion reflected upon later.
“It was surprising – I wasn’t expecting that. I was looking in my right hand mirror and suddenly saw [Lynn’s] car dart to the inside. I was struggling to brake late and Alex was noticeably good on the brakes, so it made it hard to fend him off.”
Where the sliding Fortec took Harvey aback, Lynn was rather more measured in his analysis; even if the sound of his screeching Cooper tyres told otherwise.
“I was pushing for the win – there was one little mistake when he got a bit of oversteer into the chicane and carried some good speed. Harvey defended and braked really early and caught me off guard, so I stamped on the brakes, which caused me to lock up. It was a bit annoying; for the rest of the thirty minutes, I can a massive flatspot – I’m sure I’ll need some new feelings tomorrow morning.”
Despite the flatspot, Lynn stayed on Harvey’s tail, only just missing out on that race win he so craved, despite the worsening conditions late on.
“We’ve had great pace all weekend. I made a good start to get alongside [Harvey], but it wasn’t enough to try a move, so I was just hounding him all race. The last lap was pretty bad. It was quite cold. There was a lot of mist in the air and damp in the track, certainly in the last two laps.”
Meanwhile, Jaafar’s solid start was not enough to get the Malaysian into the battle for the lead. A tussle with Lynn was cut short, when Jaafar had to turn his attentions to an attacking Pietro Fantin in 4th; however as the race aged and the cold set in, the once promising title challenge fell away.
“It was really close throughout the whole race. Alex was quick, Jack was quick, Pietro was quick and I was too – everyone was pushing. I made a couple of mistakes in the quick hairpin. It’s difficult racing in the dark, but I really enjoyed it.
“The hard bit was to see the drops, that was really tough, because about three or four laps toward the end my pace was really slow, because it felt really slippery – I was driving at eighty percent, so as not to take too much risk; I still never stopped pushing, but I had to be a bit more cautious.”
Jaafar was not dramatically upset; merely accepting of the situation and with that, seems ready to move on to his next challenge.
“We did the best we could, both this weekend and throughout the season. The team did a great job this season and have been strong all year.”
For Serralles, his title chances took a number of knocks throughout the weekend. Qualifying behind Harvey and Jaafar on a difficult to pass circuit was always going to create an uphill struggle, however getting passed at the start by Fantin was probably not in the plan.
Am off on lap twenty dropped Serralles from 5th to 7th; which eventually became 8th five laps later when the Fortec racer spun to avoid a recovering Fantin, after the Brazilian suffered his own “off”.
Afterward, the 20-year-old Serralles was understandably very downbeat with the outcome of the race, although the Puerto Rican should be proud of his efforts in what was his début year in the category.
“Our rears went away and after that it was just nothing I could do. I’m disappointed, but there was nothing I could do about the spin. I was going to hit Fantin in the back.”
The main beneficiaries of Serralles’ and Fantin’s slip-ups were Harry Tincknell and Pipo Derani who brought their machines home 4th and 5th ahead of Fantin. Serralles’ spin dropped him behind Hannes van Asseldonk, who enjoyed a solid run in the final two (mostly incident free) rounds of the season.
Rupert Svendsen-Cook crossed the line in 9th to finish a tough weekend, only just ahead of Nick McBride (T-Sport, 10th) and Geoff Uhrhane (11th, Double R).
Hywel Lloyd wrapped a successful weekend back in the cockpit by taking his third National Class win of the weekend.
Pedro Pablo Calbimonte and Duvashen Padayachee assumed 13th and 14th respectively, while a spin dumped National Class champion Spike Goddard into last place.
2012 British F3 Round of Donington (Rd 10, Race 3, 28 laps) Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Jack Harvey Carlin Dallara-VW 39m29.398s 2. Alex Lynn Fortec Dallara-Merc + 0.682s 3. Jazeman Jaafar Carlin Dallara-VW + 4.712s 4. Harry Tincknell Carlin Dallara-VW + 5.889s 5. Pipo Derani Fortec Dallara-Merc + 6.894s 6. Pietro Fantin Carlin Dallara-VW + 7.506s 7. Hannes van Asseldonk Fortec Dallara-Merc + 8.135s 8. Felix Serralles Fortec Dallara-Merc + 14.086s 9. Rupert Svendsen-Cook Double R Dallara-Merc + 15.476s 10. Nick McBride T-Sport Dallara-Nissan + 15.947s 11. Geoff Uhrhane Double R Dallara-Mugen-Merc + 16.382s 12. Hywel Lloyd CF Dallara-Mugen* + 1m05.612s 13. Pedro Pablo Calbimonte T-Sport Dallara-Mugen* + 1m06.410s 14. Duvashen Padayachee Double R Dallara-Mugen* + 1m23.355s 15. Spike Goddard T-Sport Dallara-Mugen* + 1m24.613s
2012 British F3 Series (Final points positions) International Class Pos Driver Points 1. Jack Harvey 319 2. Jazeman Jaafar 306 3. Felix Serralles 299 4. Alex Lynn 253 5. Harry Tincknell 226 6. Carlos Sainz Jr 224 7. Pietro Fantin 195 8. Pipo Derani 146 9. Hannes van Asseldonk 132 10. Nick McBride 85 National Class Pos Driver Points 1. Spike Goddard 426 2. Duvashen Padayachee 377 3. Adderly Fong 161 4. Pedro Pablo Calbimonte 125 5. Hywel Lloyd 61