After a weekend of promising much but constantly being thwarted Raikkonen-Robertson finally got a win at Rockingham. Felipe Nasr survived opening lap carnage to win the 40-minute feature race for the British Formula Three Championship.
The Brazilian started from fourth, giving him the best available view of the drama unfolding ahead.
At the start Jean-Eric Vergne tried to squeeze down on pole man Oli Webb, trying to force his title rival to yield on the run into turn one then trying to use momentum around the outside of the left hander.
Unsuccessful Vergne had made himself vulnerable to Carlos Huertas, who was trying to follow Webbs line around the inside, to drag past the Red Bull backed car on the way up to Deene. Turning to defense Vergne moved across on the Columbian sending the Raikkonen-Roberston man spinning to the inside of the track and into retirement.
And Vergne wasn't done yet.
Now on an almost untenable tight line for the hairpin at Deene he outbraked himself and could do nothing but careen into in Webb as the Fortec driver turned his way through the corner, spinning him 180 degrees to face the entire field as the bowled around the corner.
The result was inevitable.
Both regular Hitech driver Gabrial Dias and Invitation Class runner Pietro Fantin were involved – the former's car returning to the pits on a low-loader with the left-rear corner severely damaged. Daisuke Nakajima made it back to the pits under his own power, though without a rear wing (that shared the low-loader with Dias's car) it was only to ensure a shorter walk back to the pits – a trip he made via the medical centre his crash helmet bearing scars of the melee. Alex Brundle and Rupert Svendsen-Cook were delayed, but not continued – only temporarily in the case of Svendsen-Cook, his race coming to an end in the Gracelands gravel trap later in the event.
Needless to say the safety car was called out picking up Nasr in the lead. Adriano Buzaid had bounced from sixth on the grid to second, ahead of Jazeman Jaafar, James Calado and Vergne, who had somehow emerged from the accidents and incidents unscathed (though post-race protests threaten to do the damage post race). Webb had fallen back to 14th, though he too was otherwise undeterred.
The presence of Lucas Foresti and Jay Bridger in seventh and eighth only served to prove how the crash had shaken up the established order.
That those not normally found running so high in the order were mixing with the recovering front runners led to several packs developing. The front five – now led by Buzaid after taking the lead at Yentwood shortly after the restart – broke away, though William Buller joined the pack as they battled each other.
Unsurprisingly Bridger, his Litespeed car in Lotus Racing colours showing off their association with the new F1 team, had become a cork in a bottle, though as each driver passed the no.14 car they made up the deficit to those ahead.
Nasr retook the lead – Buzaid's pace once again in doubt – on lap nine at Deene and proceeding to show up the Carlin driver by surging away into the lead. Setting fastest times on seemingly every lap Nasr extended his lead by over a second with every circuit, leaving the Carlin foursome of Buzaid, Jaafar, Vergne and Calado to battle for second.
First to move was Vergne, passing Jaafar, putting the Malaysian in similar place to Huertas on the first lap – though with less expensive results, the Frenchman simply taking third place and straight away begginging work on passing Buzaid, which he made look harder than Buzaid's pace suggested it would be.
For all the Brazilian was being dropped rapidly by Nasr, Vergne struggled to pass another of his many teammates, trying twice around the outside at Deene, only for Buzaid to deploy the simple defence of drifting wide on exit, forcing Vergne to abandon his challenge.
Vergne did pass Buzaid, sealing the move at Yentwood and pulling away, just as Nasr had done. Even Vergne had no chance of catching the leader, who had romped into a 16 second lead while the Carlin stable fought amongst itself. The lead remained almost intact even with Vergne chasing, the final margin of victory 15.652 seconds.
The Frenchman's departure only allowed Jaafar to take up the mantle of frustration in trying to pass Buzaid. But unlike Vergne the frustration got the better of the Malaysia, nerfing his teammate wide at Yentwood, assuming third and sending Buzaid tumbling towards the rear of the train he had built up behind him.
However, a few corners later the cost of the nudge was called in, a broken front wing on Jaafar's car causing him to run wide out of Pif Paf beginning a slide down the order than began with the battle he had just taken the head of blasting past him and ended with retirement on the final lap.
The reshuffle handed James Calado fourth ahead of Buzaid and Hitech Racing pilot William Buller and Oli Webb – the latter two involved in a battle of their own which only saw the position settled on the penultimate lap.
Behind Webb, in seventh and eighth overall, were the pair of National Class runners, James Cole snapping Menasheh Idafar's weekend domination with a win, beating his rival by seven-tenths of a second.