Brazil’s Felipe Nasr earned a patient and level-headed win in the opening 2011 British Formula 3 race rife with accidents and drama. Nasr, who started in 8th place led home a Carlin 1-2-3 made up of Jazeman Jaafar and Carlos Huertas respectively.
The first round at the Italian circuit saw drama before the race even began, as pole-sitter Willam Buller failed to leave the pits and join the grid in time. Buller’s mistake meant the Irishman had to start from the pitlane and Carlin’s Kevin Magnussen inherited pole position. However, Buller wasn’t the only driver or team to make the same mistake – 6 other cars failed to meet the deadline and were also forced to start from the pits.
The lack of cars on the grid certainly didn’t stop more action unfolding. Jaafar and Magnussen led the slim-lined pack for all of one lap before Pipo Derani collided heavily with Jack Harvey, sending them both immediately out of the race and the resultant debris brought out the first safety car of the afternoon. Upon the restart, Magnussen and Jaafar continued their scrap for the lead, but were cut short when the safety car appeared again after Rookie Class racer Kotaro Sakurai went up and over the back of rival Bart Hylkema. Hylkema managed to crawl back to the pits whilst Sakurai went for precautionary medical checks.
As the second safety car pulled in, Jaafar lost out to Lucas Foresti who went on to challenge Magnussen for the lead. But again, the race was interrupted by a a third safety car when reigning British Formula Ford champion Scott Pye tangled with Pietro Fantin. With only 12 laps completed and the 30 minute time-limit quickly ticking down, the battle for the lead intensified. Foresti made a move down into the 2nd chicane and the pair slid off track, allowing the patient Felipe Nasr through into the lead. Foresti slipped down the 9th place whilst Magnussen pitted to repair some bodywork damage, falling down to 15th as a result.
Fortec Motorsport’s William Buller made a brilliant come-back drive from the pitlane to finish 4th behind Carlin’s Jazeman Jaafar and Carlos Huertas – Buller adopting the same conservative tactics as race-winner Nasr. Buller passed both Rupert Svendsen-Cook and Riki Christodolou on the penultimate lap, showing his undoubtedly frustrated team that the Irishman was just a strong as the front-runners.
Welshman Hywel Lloyd took a well-deserved 7th place for SinoVision ahead of British F3 National champion Menasheh Idafar, a battered Lucas Foresti and Formula 3 debutant Bruno Mendez. Despite the rather large thump from Kotaro Sakurai, Bart Hylkema still won the Rookie Class for T-Sport.
Afterwards, Felipe Nasr showed signs of maturity both in and out of the cockpit: “I think Magnussen and Foresti were trying too hard to win the race,” he said. “They lost so much time trying to fight each other I was able to catch them a little bit every lap. And then they crashed and I had my opportunity. After that it was just a question of not making a mistake because the track was getting a bit dirty. The car was great and I must congratulate the team.”
Jazeman Jaafar finished 2nd by merely a few fractions of a second, to equal his career best Formula 3 result. He was encouraged by his performance: “It was hard and I didn't quite have Felipe's speed, but I think I showed my pace and maybe I can improve tomorrowâ€¦”.
Dutchman and Rookie Class winner Hylkema sounded pleased to simply finish the race: “I was defending into the second chicane and I got hit in the back, and then hit again, and the car came over me. There was a lot of damage, and a puncture, but I was able to get it back to the pits and the team did an amazing job to get me out again.”
The drivers only had time to complete 14 laps of the Monza circuit in the 30 minute race – the incident strewn round had plenty of signs of eager aggression built up over a long pre-season schedule. Hopefully a few of the runners have gotten it out of their system for Round 2 – which features a reversed Top 8 grid.
Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series
Round 1, Monza ITA 16/4/2011
14 laps / 50.394 miles
Provisional results Championship class
1 Felipe NASR, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 30m 56.691s
2 Jazeman JAAFAR, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen +3.116s
3 Carlos HUERTAS, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen +3.166s
4 William BULLER, Fortec Dallara-Mercedes +4.103s
5 Rupert SVENDSEN-COOK, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen +5.140s
6 Riki CHRISTODOULOU, Hitech Dallara-Volkswagen +6.674s
7 Hywel LLOYD, Sino Vision Dallara-Mercedes +9.995s
8 Menasheh Idafar, T-Sport Dallara-Volkswagen +10.018s
9 Lucas FORESTI, Fortec Dallara-Mercedes +10.137s
10 Bruno MENDEZ, Hitech Dallara-Volkswagen +11.324s etc
Provisional results Rookie class
1 Bart HYLKEMA, T-Sport Dallara-Mugen Honda 10 laps
Fastest lap: Nasr 1m 46.532s / 121.66mph
Provisional championship standings
1 Nasr 21 points; 2 Jaafar 15; 3 Huertas 12; 4 Buller 10; 5 Svendsen-Cook 8; 6 Christodoulou 6 etc.
Rookie class: 1 Hylkema 21.
Full Results Here: http://www.imagevaults.co.uk/monzaf3/03_race1.pdf
Round 2 takes place on Sunday (17 April) at 9am Local Time (BST +1)