Absolute Racing’s Jamie Chadwick unleashed her racing skills to secure the first double podium of her F3 Asian Championship campaign this weekend and climb to eighth in the drivers’ table. Australia’s Tommy Smith has taken a number of positives from a frenetic weekend of F3 racing in wet and dry conditions at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit.
With the rain threatening to come down, the qualifying sessions ended up being run on dry conditions in the second visit of the season to the Hermann Tilke-designed circuit. Chadwick was the quickest in the single official free practice session, showing a strong pace again in both qualifying sessions. The British racer qualified fifth for race one and fourth for race three. After struggling with tire instability in the first qualifying, she improved one second in the second outing with a different set of tires.
Smith had his times disallowed for four occasions in the first qualifying session for breaching the track limits. His best lap time wasn’t within the 107% the fastest lap time to qualify for the first race of the weekend, but the Australian driver was authorized by the Stewards of the Meeting to start from the back of the grid. Smith bounced back in the second qualifying, posting the seventh quickest lap time.
On Friday afternoon, in a wet-to-dry race, James Chadwick scored her maiden podium finish. After two formation laps, the W Series Champion got away well from P5, getting past the two cars in front in the opening lap. She continued on with a steady pace for the remaining of the race, managing well her wet tires degradation on a drying race track, and passed the checkered flag in third; her best result so far this season.
Starting from the back of the grid, and suffering from early tire degradation, Smith did not drop the ball and got down to business as the lights went out. The Australian youngster managed to climb nine positions over the 30-minute race to finish on an impressive seventh position.
The rain didn’t pay a visit to Sepang circuit for the last two races of the weekend on Saturday. Starting from fourth on the grid, Chadwick’s superb opening lap brought her up to third. Chadwick’s pace was evident once more in Race 2, with the 21-year-old being in the fight for the second position. A mature drive from the Brit was rewarded with a third-place finish and another excellent haul of points to add to her collection.
Smith was less lucky and was knocked out of the morning race, after starting from P9, due to a gearbox failure.
Running on the less favorable set of tires for the final race of the day, Chadwick defended hard against the competitive pack to eventually cross the line in P6, topping up the squad’s points tally.
Smith’s perseverance was finally rewarded in Race 3. The Australian youngster had a lightning start, moving three positions to fourth, where he ran from the majority of the race. Unfortunately, he dropped to seventh in the last third of the race after a drop in performance from his tires.
After twelve races out of fifteen, Chadwick lies eighth in the drivers’ championship standings as Tommy Smith is twelfth. Devlin DeFrancesco is still lying in the fourth position. The Italian-Canadian driver decided to put a premature end to his first Asian campaign due to concerns around coronavirus. Absolute Racing remains third in the teams’ standings.
The season showdown is scheduled for next week at the Buriram International Circuit in Thailand.
Ingo Matter (Team Director): “It was a good race weekend for us, with both having some exciting on-track battles against his rivals, and two more podium finishes collected as a reward for everyone’s hard work. On particularly tough conditions so typical in Sepang, Jamie showed this weekend how fast she can be, conquering two well-deserved podium positions. Tommy keeps improving and maintained a consistent pace throughout the weekend. Although it was disappointing that he had a gearbox problem in race two, overall it was a good performance and he collected more points for himself and the team. Now we look ahead to the next challenge in Thailand, still determined to give it our all, right to the very end.”
Jamie Chadwick (Q1: P5 / Q2: P4 / Rnd 10: P9 / Rnd 11: P3 / Rnd 12: P6): “Overall, I’m very happy with the double podium. In the race one, I made a good start and managed to get by Ukyo. I managed to maintain the pace from there. It was quite tricky at the beginning of the race because it was quite greasy. I thought it was going to get dryer towards the end, so I started battling with Joey but then thought, ‘he’s got a bit more pace so it’s better to avoid battling too much and ruining my tires’. I settled into third. Yesterday I was happy to be on the podium, today I’m a little bit frustrated to miss out on P2. I had a good start and slotted into P3 after the first lap. I was quite comfortable there. Joey’s pace was a bit quicker in the early laps but quite quickly started to drop off so I was able to capitalize to the point where he was really struggling with the pace when I started to attack. He didn’t make life easier for me so when I tried to pass him it allowed Nikita and Ukyo to close up, which then made it a four-way fight. It’s a bit frustrating to lose out to Nikita when I passed Joey as I think we had a good pace to be comfortably in P2. You win some, you lose some, and I’m happy to be on the podium.”
Tommy Smith (Q1: P16 / Q2: P7 / Rnd 10: P7 / Rnd 11: DNF / Rnd 12: P7): “It was a pretty up and down weekend unfortunately with a bad Qualifying as a result of track limits which canceled the majority of my laps. In Race 1, I came from 16th to finish in 7th. In the second race, I had a difficult race with a gearbox issue which unfortunately lead to a DNF. Race 3 was really positive going from 7th to 4th on the opening lap however didn’t quite have the pace at the end to finish in 7th!”