Harvey takes British F3 points lead as Carlin dominate Snetterton
Ask some drivers what they feel the most important element is for racing and you will be hit with a hundred different theories.
Some might give you a brief thesis about speed and downforce. Others may take time to doll through the virtues of a well balanced set-up.
Vital though both are, sometimes the ones who have things figured out will simply say “confidence”.
In its purest form, confidence can act as the glue that holds many of racing’s basic elements together and with that confidence comes an audacity and brashness that allows one to push to the limit and know that it will all hold together.
This of course should not be confused with arrogance, which revels in the wreckage of many a broken and crashed car…
From the baseline through to the most intricate of changes, confidence offers the belief that the car will hold and that your time will appear “purple” each time around. Yet this isn’t about mindless driving of course – for confidence to make its presence really felt, it must be backed up by ability and intelligence.
However confidence under perfect conditions is only one act of the play. When the ideal state slips away – be it due to rain, oil spill, damage, etc – then one must dig just a little bit deeper and this is when supreme confidence shines through
At Snetterton this past weekend, there was evidence to see just where confidence lies in amongst the ranks.
The Norfolk weather from – petulant as you like – swung from baking summer sun and blue skies to thunderous rain storms and back again in short sharp bursts. With such changeable conditions, it was easy to spot the unnerved.
Two drivers striking the right balance on a consistent basis are Jack Harvey and Felix Serralles. No matter the conditions or the pressures, both appear serene on track, all the while dodging the pitfalls of sweeping changes and frantic action around them.
The pairing set positions on the first two rows for race one and three – Harvey on pole for both; their garages now pictures of calm, confident delight.
However, it’s not all sunshine, as Jazeman Jaafar appears to be losing the grip on the top with the Malaysian, often speedy, struggling to finish the job in this instance. Always fast somewhere during a lap, Jaafar rarely manages to string consistent sectors together and it quickly paints an uneasy picture.
First lap: green in sector 1, yellow in 2 and 3. Next lap: green in sector 2, yellow in 1 & 3… and so it goes on. And with the inconsistency comes mild panic. The confidence, apparent not long ago, splits wide open and Jaafar’s weekend crumbles ever so slightly.
The result? Row three. An off during the opening race would only compound matters and in that error, his title hopes may well have slipped away.
For the likes of Carlos Sainz Jr, the Spaniard finds himself in a difficult position. At the front – as he was for the duration of Sunday’s feature event – he blossoms; however the moment his position dips or he gets caught out, his head falters and is lost.
However at 17, Carlos still has plenty of time – whether Red Bull are willing to grant that time remains to be seen. The drinks company are not known for their patience. Yet the ability is there, the speed is there – one just wishes them to appear more often.
Harvey took the lead in the point standings following a shortened opening race at Snetterton. The 19-year-old led from start-to-finish in a race tinged with poor conditions, as Fortec duo Felix Serralles and Alex Lynn trailed in his mirrors.
It appeared as if the Lincolnshire native had bogged down ever so slightly, yet Harvey kept ahead of the pack as they fought amongst themselves. With the track still damp from an earlier storm, Serralles made an error on lap four, but kept ahead of the chasing Lynn; however Harvey extended his narrow lead to 4 seconds.
Then with only six minutes left on the clock, a sudden bout of torrential rain pummelled the circuit, leaving a few small areas of the track flooded. The red flag emerged, rendering the race done after eight laps.
For Serralles, ending the race was the right call, after coming close to losing it at the halfway – in the end; only two seconds were dropped to the leader. The Puerto Rican may have fallen behind Harvey in the standings, but he was not overly disappointed considering the conditions.
Lynn spent much of the race in a state of limbo – too far behind Serralles to make a challenge, but too far ahead of teammate Hannes van Asseldonk to be worried.
The Fortec runner was quite happy to miss the first lap bumping that took place, although van Asseldonk was rather closer to the action. The Dutch racer made a sold start from 9th, only to be surprised when Pedro Pablo Calbimonte launched himself into the pack at turn two from the rear of the field.
Whereas Van Asseldonk escaped, several others did not, as Carlos Sainz Jr and Pietro Fantin would be bumped clean off the circuit and into retirement. Sainz Jr was not happy in the slightest.
Also caught out were Harry Tincknell and Pipo Derani, with the former picking up a slow puncture on the left front immediately following the collision, while the latter went off and rejoined.
Tincknell spent the duration mired in last spot; however Derani – just ahead in 11th – caught the National Class runners, passing Duvashen Padayachee and Spike Goddard, before having another off when the storm returned.
The frantic opening tour allowed for a couple of surprises in the top six as usual car magnet Fahmi Ilyas (Double R) assumed 5th and Nick McBride (T-Sport) took 6th place, although the latter worked for it. Starting on the outside of the sixth row, McBride benefited somewhat from the first lap melee, then charging past Geoff Uhrhane and Adderly Fong before halfway.
Jazeman Jaafar was also having to do much overtaking after he went off exiting turn one on the opening tour. The Malaysian swept by Fong, Uhrhane and Padayachee as the race turned over, but could do nothing about McBride in the final stages – Jaafar needs a big result today to keep his championship hopes alive.
Fong settled for 8th and the National Class win, with Uhrhane a disappointing 9th, while Goddard took Padayachee on lap four, solidifying 10th for the Australian.
Conditions for the second race could not have been more different from the opener as Tincknell strode to his third British F3 victory of the season. The Devonshire man took the main finishing spot after ending the sprint event ahead of teammate Jaafar and McBride – the latter securing his first podium in the category.
Tincknell’s victory did owe a little something to the number of “B” Class cars starting in his mirrors, with National Class duo Padayachee and Goddard lined up behind him, while an out-of-position Uhrhane claimed 4th.
The Carlin man enjoyed a good start to streak ahead of Fong, although it would only be a lap before Jaafar was through, although the deficit was already 3.6 seconds in less than six miles. It wasn’t all plain sailing for the 20-year-old, whose Volkswagen-powered machine began to suffer from gearbox hiccoughs in the final tours.
Jaafar closed the gap to three seconds come the flag, although was rather relieved to come away with this after losing out badly in race one.
By the opening turn, Jaafar was already 4th, before nabbing 3rd from Fong later in the lap. A move on Goddard during the following circulation promoted him to 2nd, but the Malaysian was simply too far away to pressurise Tincknell.
Goddard picked up a drive through penalty at the halfway point for starting out of position – it was decision that released Fong and with it, the train of cars that followed.
After jumping Uhrhane off the line, McBride had a much tougher time attempting to pass the Chinese / Canadian driver, as the aerodynamic effect kicked in through Snetterton’s quicker sweeps.
Once the Australian was through, Fong fell backwards, allowing championship leader Jack Harvey into the frame for a podium. However McBride was confident in holding his 3rd spot, knowing the Carlin racer would be having a similar issue with bad aero.
Harvey did have a go on the last lap, but it was not enough and the 19-year-old eventually had no choice but to settle for solid points; however considering he started 12th, Harvey took some pleasure in his result.
Lynn rose to 5th once Goddard, Uhrhane and Fong disappeared from the action, while Serralles grabbed 6th, as mid-table regulars Derani and Fantin climbed to 7th and 8th respectively.
Once the gates opened, Fong dropped to 9th with Uhrhane three-tenths adrift in 10th place; however the disappointment of the race had to be Sainz Jr, who could do no better than 11th spot.
Calbimonte managed to finish today’s event without any automotive hostilities, some five seconds clear of Padayachee. Goddard dropped to 14th after his drive-through penalty. Van Asseldonk suffered a problem with his left front on the opening lap, requiring a pitstop. The Dutch racer finished 15th and last, while Ilyas was the only retirement of the race.
Following on from a tough opening pair of races, 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.
Starting on the outside of the front row, the Spaniard surged ahead as his pole-sitting team-mate Harvey scraped his way off the line. Also getting a good start from the outside lane was Serralles, who launched passed both 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.
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; 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.
For Harvey, 3rd would be his best reward – not exactly what 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.
From there, the gaps spread significantly, with 4th place Lynn over 35 seconds adrift of the victor. Far too far ahead of Jaafar, but too distant to challenge the leading trio, Lynn settled for a lonely race.
Jaafar’s race was more interesting for a time, as he fought to hold a persuasive 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 Tincknell; however the Fortec man drew ahead of Tincknell as the laps peeled away.
Derani and Fantin enjoyed an enthusiastic battle over 8th and 9th places, eventually won by the former 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 McBride, before slicing by Fong and Ilyas, eventually reaching the rear of Fantin.
As the laps fell away, Fong held both Fahmi and 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: he went on to claim all three National Class rounds.
There followed a gaggle of National Class cars with Calbimonte (13th), Goddard (14th) and Padayachee (16th), split by a recovering McBride.
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
National Class /Pos / Driver / Points
1. Richard Goddard 331
2. Duvashen Padayachee 297
3. Adderly Fong 161
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Leigh O'Gorman - The Motorsport Archive
Published 07/08/2012 16:29
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As the noise settled down, colleagues, well-wishers and friends moved from the podium, while Leicestershire skies began to rain down.
It’s a rather unusual sound to bear in the immediate aftermath of a race and not the most welcome. Not welcome at all in fact.