2012 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series
Round 24, Silverstone Arena GP, Northamptonshire, September 8th/9th 2012
© Lynne Waite and Stella-Maria Thomas
Weather: Hot, sunny, dry.
Race Report – Round 24 (Race 1):
At Silverstone this afternoon, despite a very messy start, Alex Lynn (Fortec Motorsport) finally claimed what should have been his first F3 victory after what has been a disappointing season by his standards. He headed home Jazeman Jaafar (Carlin) while behind them Jack Harvey (Carlin) stole 3rd from under the nose of Carlos Sainz Jr (Carlin) on the final run through Luffield by driving around the outside of the Spaniard and crossing the line 0.057 seconds ahead.
However, some hours later Jaafar was promoted to 1st after the race when Lynn was penalised 30 seconds for a jump start and Harvey was penalised the same amount after he went when Lynn did but slammed the anchors on when he realised and slipped back to 4th as a result. That moved Sainz Jr up to 2nd and promoted Harry Tincknell (Carlin) to 3rd. The National Class was a clear cut matter in comparison with Richard “Spike” Goddard (T-Sport) coming home 2 seconds ahead of his nearest rival.
While Harvey’s start was horrible, it was as nothing compared to the dreadfulness of Felix Serralles’ (Fortec Motorsport) getaway. The Puerto Rican finally got moving only after the Safety Car had gone past. When the dust settled he had a lot of work left to do to even catch the National Class guys. However, Felix is a never say die kind of driver, and he set to with a will.
As the field reappeared to start their second lap, Lynn was ahead with Jaafar hanging on for 2nd, while Harvey attempted to find a way past Sainz Jr, but the writing was already on the wall at that point as the message flashed up on the timing screen to say that 36 (Lynn) and 1 (Harvey) were under investigation with regard to their start. Harvey was still pressing on anyway, and attempted to go up the inside of Sainz Jr. at Copse. Sainz was having none of it thank you, and resisted, but the threat remained.
All of this meant that Lynn and Jaafar were getting away, though the Malaysian was not pushing as hard as he might have done, convinced beyond any shadow of a doubt that Lynn had jumped the start and would be penalised. The penalty was a long time coming though.
To add to the fun in the stewards’ office Pipo Derani (Fortec Motorsport) was also now under investigation, though this was far more clear cut. His offence was that an engineer was still working on his car after the two minute board was shown. The marshals waved flags and blew whistles but the engineer continued to work and so it was a question of what the penalty would be rather than whether there would be one.
Anyway, back on the track Sainz Jr was still holding off Harvey and, just for good measure, Hannes van Asseldonk (Fortec Motorsport) too. Behind them Tincknell had some clear air from Derani, while Pietro Fantin (Carlin) had Rupert Svendsen-Cook (Double R Racing), Nick McBride (ThreeBond with T-Sport) and Geoff Uhrhane (Double R Racing) all over him in a fraught battle for 8th.
At the front Lynn set the fastest lap of the race while Derani started to haul Tincknell in and then made an attempt to take 6th from the Englishman. We were now though starting to hit the usual Silverstone malaise as people could edge close to the car ahead but could then not get past as the dirty air in the wake of the guy ahead unsettled your handling and you would then have to drop back.
Shortly afterwards Derani finally received notification of his penalty and was given a drive through so that gave Tincknell a bit of breathing space. Meanwhile Sainz and Harvey were warned about not respecting track limits, just as van Asseldonk pulled into the pits with what appeared to be smoke billowing around him as he emerged from the cockpit. That was his race done.
A lap later and Serralles was now past the National Class cars and starting to close on the mob behind Svendsen-Cook, while at the front Lynn was pulling away at a rate of knots and was looking seriously untouchable in the lead, just as Derani came in to serve his penalty. Sainz Jr, meanwhile, was rewarded for his efforts in holding Harvey off by being placed under investigation for not respecting track limits.
Derani rejoined down in last moving Serralles into the points just as a whole raft of other drivers were warned about track limits. In fact it was now a case of who had not been warned rather than who had. Really it seems that if drivers should not be allowed to go over the track limits it might be better to build a gravel trap on the section you don’t want them on than to constantly have warnings being issued.
Fantin was the next driver to come under investigation, while at the front Harvey closed on Sainz Jr again. Actually Fantin was probably in trouble because he was now having to defend from Svendsen-Cook, McBride and Uhrhane for 8th and they had Serralles closing in on them now as well.
As the race drew to a close Sainz Jr. started to try and open up a gap to Harvey, while Derani started to claw his way back up the order. The real fight was the one between Harvey and Sainz Jr. and Harvey was a long way from done yet. He tried to go up the inside at Copse and again Sainz Jr. fought back and fended his team mate off.
15 laps in Lynn took the flag from an aggrieved Jaafar, who couldn’t understand why nothing had been done about the jump start. Harvey came through in 3rd after powering round the outside of Sainz Jr. at Brooklands. The young Spaniard wasn’t taking that lying down either and fought back one last time, crossing the line a mere 0.057 seconds after Harvey in one of the closest F3 finishes in many years.
After the penalties were applied then Jaafar was the winner, from Sainz Jr, Tincknell, Lynn, Fantin, Svendsen-Cook, Serralles (who inherited the place after Uhrhane and McBride went missing on the last lap, tangling and ending up in the gravel traps), Derani and Goddard. Pedro Pablo Calbimonte (T-Sport) was 11th ahead of Duvashen Padayachee (Double R Racing), the latter seeming more than somewhat out of sorts compared to normal.
The fastest laps of the race were set by Lynn and Goddard.