A faultless drive from Rupert Svendsen–Cook delivered the British driver to his second win of the British Formula Three International Series.
The Carlin man had started the race – the first of three this weekend at Donington Park – from pole position, and was aided by a poor start from Jack Harvey alongside to take the lead unchallenged into Redgate for the first time.
An eight tenths of a second lead at the end of the opening grew steadily over Carlos Huertas in second, the only man who had been able to take advantage of Harvey's unsure getaway. Huertas – who despite being a veteran in comparison to much of the F3 field has never won a race – became the lead car in a train of six car fighting for positions from second down to seventh. That six became five when Will Buller made a mistake on the exit of the Fogarty Esses, dropping from seventh to tenth.
Though the order stayed static Jack Harvey in third swayed between challenging Huertas for second and having to hold off Scott Pye to keep his spot on the podium.
“I think the whole field is a bit cat and mouse, if you look at everybody,” Harvey told The Checkered Flag. “There were some laps I pulled away from Scott, some laps he caught me up and it was the same with Carlos and I'm sure it was the same with the person behind Scott. It's just the way it works. When you're in clean air, when you're not right behind someone and you have maximum downforce the you can push like normal. The guy in front of you is in dirty air but when you catch them up it's just cat and mouse really the whole time, but our car is a lot quicker than where we finished today.”
“On the last lap Carlos Had to defend quite tight into both the hairpins in the final two corners, so we were getting there. But I think in Formula Three you're relying on people to make mistakes but Carlos is in his third year. He doesn't make those sort of mistakes.”
Jazeman Jaafar and Invitation Class driver Valtteri Bottas completed the train, with each man crossing the line no more than sixth tenths behind the driver in front.
Menasheh Idafar reached the finish line in seventh place, fighting up from sixteenth on the grid. However, the T-Sport driver was given a 3.5 second penalty for causing a collision with Pipo Derani as the pair battled for seventh – the penalty pushed Idafar back behind Derani to eleventh, Derani taking the final point. Fortec Motorsport's Harry Tincknell and Will Buller, as well as Max Snegirev completed the top ten. Buller, once Idafar penalty was applied will start the first of the Sunday races from pole position thanks to the reverse grid draw.
“For sure,” said Svendsen-Cook, who had been unhappy with the balance of his car after qualifying we just made some small adjustments and they absolutely helped I've got complete confidence in the car throughout the race – totally in control.”
“I was able to pull a gap almost every lap I think, I just had to get keep head down and not make any mistake. Look out for the track limits so I didn't get a penalty because there's quite a lot of wide kerbs here you can use. It was pretty simple.”
Missing from the points scorers were both Kevin Magnussen and Felipe Nasr. The pair, arguably the fastest men in the field, had made contact at the Melbourne Hairpin at the end of the second lap.
Nasr pitted immediately with a punctured left front tyre, Magnussen a lap later with a right rear going flat. Magnussen had – reportedly – come across on Nasr as the Brazilian made a passing attempt on the inside.
Both men briefly returned to track – partly in pursuit of fastest lap – which they both held. Nasr first, before he returned to the pits for good, but Magnussen held the honour to the end with a lap of 1.23.042 on lap ten.
Kotaro Sakurai is the lone man in the National Class this weekend, but the victory was enough to make him the class champion, moving far enough clear of the points total amassed by Bart Hylkema before he switched to the International Class earlier in the season.