Tuesday, 6 April 2010
2010 British F3: Oulton Park – Round 1
The new British Formula 3 season kicked off this weekend at Oulton Park sporting a new three race per meeting format, but it was a familiar story as the Carlin team took both pole positions, three fastest laps and all three race wins. This seasons Red Bull backed entrant, Parisian, Jean-Eric Vergne, lived up to his billing of pre season favourite on Saturday by first securing a double pole position, and then winning the first race later the same day from Fortec’s Ollie Webb and Carlin team mate Adriano Buzaid. Vergne would have surely completed a clean sweep of the weekend were it not for the revised format which now incorporates a BTCC style reversed grid for the shorter race two, whereby the race one winner draws a number from 6 to 10, on the podium, to decide which of those race one finishers will start from pole, the rest of the leading group then have their positions reversed, for the half points race.
The first such draw of the season saw Hitech’s Gabriel Dias, 2009 national class runner up, on pole (below), alongside Double R’s Daisuke Nakajima. Nakajima made the better start, and on lap 2 Dias attempted to get back through by taking the outside at a damp Old Hall, the move sending him spinning down the field and eventually into retirement. Two laps later the Japanese was passed, again at Old Hall by series debutant Rupert Svendson-Cook in another Carlin machine. The young Briton managed to fend off his more experienced competitor to take a very impressive win, followed by Colombian Carlos Huertas and the Carlin duo, Buzaid and Vergne.
The 40 minute feature race was somewhat processional, with the top 10 positions remaining largely unchanged throughout the 40 minutes, Vergne won from pole, followed closely by the impressive Formula Renault UK graduate Webb and his compatriot Svendson-Cook.
Vergne, Webb and Svendson-Cook were the obvious stand out drivers of the weekend, although there were some encouraging signs from the likes of Malaysian Jazeman Jaafar and home grown talent Will Buller and Alex Brundle, all new to the machinery. The most disappointing showing was comfortably that of 2009 Formula BMW Europe champion Felipe Nasr of Raikkonen Robertson, whose crash on his first flying lap in qualifying left him languishing at the back of the field all weekend, and according to paddock sources, struggling to motivate himself, maybe he has been taking some lessons in that department from Kimi.
Most experts had tipped Vergne to go well this season, although few would have thought he would dominate in the fashion he did, great news to see, however, that it will be the British contingent that will now be considered his main rivals.
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