Kevin Magnussen held off a spirited challenge from Round 22 winner Pietro Fantin to win the 3rd race of the British F3 Rockingham weekend, but a 3rd place for Felipe Nasr was also enough for the young Brazilian to be crowned the 2011 Cooper Tyres British Formula 3 International Series champion.
With only 6 rounds of the 2011 season remaining, Nasr’s most recent points advantage of 123 over new second place man Magnussen was easily enough for the 19-year old to become the 12th Brazilian British F3 champion, joining legendary compatriots such as Rubens Barrichello, Ayrton Senna, Nelson Piquet and Emerson Fittipaldi.
“It's great,” said Nasr. “I still don't quite get what it meansâ€¦ This feels like the end of a normal race for me! And yet I feel very happy. Grabbing the title early on here is just amazing. It's been a lot of work, a lot of dedication from the team, and it's very special.
“I know that many big names came from British Formula 3 and I am sure that I have done this step really well and now things are just going to get better for me. I think the best moment of the year for me was Monza, when I won two races. I will never forget that weekend, it was the best feeling ever.”
With 6 races still to be contested, Nasr revealed that his approach to recent races had been more reserved, and now claims the relieved pressure will allow him to take more risks: “Now I will be taking risks and going for the winsâ€¦” he said.
A fresh downpour kept the track in the same slippery state as the morning race, but Magnussen made up for his errors on Sunday morning with a mature display from the front row. Starting alongside pole-sitter Fantin, the Dane leapt into the lead off the line and never looked back. Fantin didn’t let him relax however, as the gap never stretched further than 2 seconds at any point – the Brazilian found himself merely 0.6s behind after 24 laps.
Two safety car periods stopped Magnussen’s job being too easy, as the treacherous track saw six drivers fall foul of the conditions and competitors, including Rupert Svendsen-Cook, who spun at Deene, and Pipo Derani who was left stranded after a touch for Jack Harvey as he tried to pass the Racing Step Foundation driver. Magnussen was faultless on both restarts however, and came under no threat from Fantin.
“It was a tough race,” said Kevin. “There were two safety cars and I had pressure from Pietro all the race; he did a good job keeping me under pressure. It was all about not making any mistakes.”
“It feels a bit strange to win and lose at the same time,” he added. “We lost the championship but won a race. Felipe did a really good job this year. He was really consistent and he deserved to win the championship.”
William Buller put in another fighting display to finish 4th after starting 9th. Climbing to 5th after only 1 lap, Buller also made the most of the 1st restart to overtake Jazeman Jaafar, who would eventually finish 5th ahead of Carlin team-mate Jack Harvey.
Round 23 winner Scott Pye – who also took advantage of the 1st restart to overhaul Harry Tincknell – came home 7th, whilst Bart Hylkema enjoyed another points scoring position for T-Sport by finishing 9th, and Fahmi Illyas avoided some early incidents to round out the top 10.
Kotaro Sakurai once again had the better of Rockingham-only rival Lucas Orlandi, taking his 11th Rookie Class win of the season.