Another race, another change of championship lead - the Cooper Tires British F3 International Series continued its ultra-competitive season at the Pau Grand Prix today with Carlos Sainz regaining control of the title thanks to a second-place finish behind Italy’s Raffaele Marciello.
There has been a new series leader after every round so far this year; Carlin driver Sainz now enjoys a three-point advantage over yesterday’s frontrunner, his team-mate Jazeman Jaafar, who finished third today behind Marciello and Sainz.
Neither man could make any impression on Prema Powerteam driver Marciello who, as yesterday, led all the way from pole position to chequered flag, and won by more than 13 seconds. Marciello is an FIA Euro F3 contestant and does not score points in the British championship.
Sainz had a tough job on his hands defending his second place from Jaafar, and Jazeman for his part had to defend third from the attentions of Spanish Prema driver Daniel Juncadella; a bare second separated the three for the duration of the race.
Said Carlos: “I am happy because obviously to win the British Formula 3 race is good, and to be leading the championship - it’s a really good start to the season. But in particular with this race I am not so happy - the Prema guys were so much faster and we were struggling to find grip; it’s a lesson that we must learn from.”
“It was a very tough race, one of the toughest I have done,” said Jaafar. “I was chasing Carlos and really wanting that second place and the British F3 win, but at the same time I had Dani behind me the whole race and he’s so quick. It was hard to manage the situation for 40 minutes.”
The narrow twists of the 2.7km Pau street circuit were never likely to make overtaking moves an easy matter, and in fact the only pass in the top 10 during the 33 laps came from Fortec’s Brazilian pilot Pipo Derani, who snatched fifth from Mucke Motorsport’s Felix Rosenqvist when the latter ran wide on the 26th tour.
Derani’s podium finish was a great turnaround after a disappointing Saturday race. “After yesterday it’s really good to make the podium and to bring these points home. It was a mental race; here if you make any mistakes you are in the wall.” Pipo’s efforts were further rewarded by his nomination as the Mobil Service Centre Master of the Weekend.
Fortec’s Alex Lynn held Carlin man Jack Harvey at bay for the duration to beat him to seventh overall (and fourth among the British series men). Pietro Fantin made it four Carlin drivers in the Brit top six, but his team-mate Harry Tincknell failed to make the finish due to a 10th lap collision with the barriers at turn three.
The other casualties of the close confines of the track were Fortec team-mates Felix Serralles and Hannes van Asseldonk, who came together on lap 14 at the Virage Gare as they disputed 12th place overall. Van Asseldonk was out on the spot but Serralles was able to continue, later making a pit stop to fix a puncture.
T-Sport’s Nick McBride finished seventh of the British series runners, ahead of Double R drivers Fahmi Ilyas and pit-stopper Geoff Uhrhane, with Serralles limping home 10th.
In the National class, points leader Spike Goddard seized the lead from Duvashen Padayachee on the opening lap, but the Australian T-Sport man’s hopes of a class victory were dashed by a call to the pits after he bent a steering arm when he clipped a kerb seven laps from the end. Double R’s Padayachee thus collected his second National class win of the season so far, with Goddard making the finish a lap in arrears of his rival.
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