The Cooper Tyres British Formula 3 International Series will head to Germany this weekend for Rounds 13-15 of the 2011 championship. The trip to the famous NÃ¼rburgring will also mark the start of a trio of continental races, as the series then moves to the Paul Ricard circuit in France before ending the tour at the prestigious Spa-Francochamps track in Belgium.
The upcoming British F3 races at the NÃ¼rburgring will also be the first since 2005, potentially levelling the playing field as any previous driver experience is likely to have been in different open-wheel machinery. Likewise the races abroad could very well present valuable opportunities for chasing pack to close down on championship leader Felipe Nasr. The Brazilian has been on a superb form all season long, outlining himself as a potential star of the future with some exceptional performances at Brands Hatch, particularly in the wet Round 12 where the Carlin driver lapped a second quicker than the rest of the field. His points lead is still healthy despite Lucas Foresti’s best efforts during the same weekend – both countrymen thrived in the changeable conditions in Kent, though Foresti still trails by 45 points at the mid-season point.
One of the few runners who has some experience to draw from is Fortec’s William Buller. The Irish 18-year old lies 5th in the overall standings, and views the German races as a perfect opportunity to claim his first race win of the season. “I like the track,” Will commented from his Northamptonshire base. “It was good to me in Formula BMW – I qualified on the front row and had a good weekend, so I am hoping for a repeat performance. Fortec definitely has the momentum at the moment, as the team showed at Brands Hatch, so things are looking good.”
Buller saw both his team-mates Foresti and Harry Tincknell take wins at the Brands weekend, and is eager to claim a victory of his own, and soon. “I always had the speed at Brands Hatch but circumstances and the weather went against me. I feel sure that my first win is going to come very soon.”
But Buller certainly isn’t the only one fighting for their first win of the season. Though the season has already seen 6 different winners in 12 races, frequent runner-ups such as Carlos Huertas, Jazeman Jaafar and Pietro Fantin have each come tantalisingly close to victory on a couple of occasions, underlining the high level competition the season has enjoyed since the opening rounds at Monza. Kevin Magnussen suffered a weekend mired with technical faults for much of the Brands weekend, and a refreshed mindset for the continental trio should see the double race-winner assert himself at the sharp end of the field once again. Even reigning Rookie Class champion, Menasheh Idafar has given race-winners a few headaches, particularly during Round 11 as the T-Sport driver harried Tincknell from the first lap to the last.
This year’s Rookie Class championship was also injected with life thanks to HiTech’s Kotaro Sakurai’s consistent performances at Brands Hatch, finally reining in Dutchman Bart Hylkema and reducing the T-Sport’s points lead to 42.
The attention will certainly be on the front-runners however. Despite Nasr’s championship lead, the competition is fierce, and 3 consecutive races at some of the most illustrious tracks in Europe will push the drivers to their limits – they’ll have to learn fast and drive even faster.
British Formula 3 enjoys the headlining support of Cooper Tires and is additionally backed by Sunoco Racing Fuels, Anglo American Oil Company and OAMPS.
NÃ¼rburgring timetable (CET)
Friday 1 July: 0935-1020 & 1440-1445 free practice
Saturday 2 July: 1025-1055 qualifying; 1525 Round 13 (30 mins)
Sunday 3 July: 1035 Round 14 (20 mins); 1400 Round 15 (40 mins)
TV schedule Channel 4: 0700 9 July; Motors TV UK 1649 9 July + repeats
Provisional championship standings
1 Felipe Nasr / BRA 154 points
2 Lucas Foresti / BRA 109
3 Carlos Huertas / COL 95
4 Jazeman Jaafar / MAS 94
5 Will Buller / GBR 63
6 Kevin Magnussen / DEN 61
6 Rupert Svendsen-Cook / GBR 61
8 Pietro Fantin / BRA 55
9 Riki Christodoulou / GBR 51
10 Harry Tincknell / GBR 46 etc
1 Bart Hylkema / NED 161
2 Kotaro Sakurai / JPN 119