Friday, 2 April 2010
2010 British Formula 3 Preview
It took some time for Red Bull’s junior driver programme to begin producing the goods, and in the meantime that has lead to some pretty ordinary drivers, by F1 standards at least, piloting their cars and that of sister team, Toro Rosso, Scott Speed and Sebastien Bourdais would likely fall into that bracket. In the last couple of years however, it has unearthed some real gems, Sebastian Vettel and Sebastien Buemi immediately spring to mind, but the next batch are now knocking on the door of Formula 1. You may have noticed New Zealand’s Brendan Hartley hanging around the Toro Rosso garage last season (you may also, incorrectly but understandably, have thought that he was a Red Bull backed surfer dude, invited as a guest), or Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo, who was fastest in the three day young driver test last December at Jerez. You will have certainly seen Jaime Alguersuari this year and last and probably noticed him keep Michael Schumacher at bay for 30 laps last weekend at Melbourne. The last two, Alguersuari and Ricciardo, have something else in common; they have each won the British Formula 3 International Series in the last two years in a Red Bull backed, Carlin run machine. Who's next? Introducing Jean-Eric Vergne, the 19 year old Frenchman, who will be trying to complete a hat-trick of titles for Trevor Carlin’s crack F3 squad this term. Hugely talented, Vergne was runner up in both the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup and West European Cup, and will this year dovetail a programme in British F3 with an assault on the Formula Renault 3.5 series with SG Formula. He has topped timesheets in testing in both categories this spring and it is a demonstration of the drinks giants’ faith in him that he is running for two top titles in 2010. He starts as favourite for the title, although Carlin teammates Adriano Buzaid, a 2009 race winner, and James Calado, who narrowly missed out on the 2009 Formula Renault UK title, may have something to say about that. Carlin will run another three drivers this term, taking their entry to six, whilst other expected fore-runners are sure to include ex-F2 ace Alex Brundle (yes it’s his son), Brit William Buller and Manor motorsport’s BMW Pacific champion Ryo Haryanto (look out for his Manor car running in the colours of the Virgin Racing F1 team). The only squad who look like they may give Carlin a run for their money is Double R, part owned by 2007 F1 champion, and now Citroen WRC crash tester, Kimi Raikkonen. They will be running a three car squad for Daisuke Nakajima, brother of ex-Williams F1 crash tester Kazuki, Carlos Huertas, and the super talented Felipe Nasr, 2009 BMW Europe champion. The series kicks off at Oulton Park this weekend with a revised format, extending the amount of races in the season to 30, and the reverse grid, half points races, should provide some extra entertainment. Vergne will be the one to watch, but it is by no means a foregone conclusion that he will triumph.
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