When the BRDC British F3 championship was announced as the new name to Jonathan Palmer‘s series back in March, many believed it to be the start of a new era for British Motorsport.
Since then, we’ve seen a climactic championship battle, with four different leaders at various stages of the season. As we enter the final round at Donington, four drivers are still within title contention. TCF runs through the numbers and what each driver needs to do in order to win.
As typical with a BRDC F3 weekend, 95 points will be available with the first and third race offering more points for the front-runners than reverse grid race two.
The cancelled final race for the Silverstone weekend on top of the sodden conditions means I have removed the weekend from the average calculator. Below is a table of the drivers average performances over the season with their predicted total after Donington.
Average and Expected Points for the Final Four
|Name||Pts||Diff.||Wins||Minus Silverstone||Pts p/round||Pts p/race||Expected Total|
In terms of positions, this means an average weekend for Ricky Collard would see him get a third in all races that weekend. Alternatively, two second places in the full points events, followed by a tenth in the reverse race feature.
Collard though had his worst weekend at Silverstone and looks better than his actual championship position, while a strong result for Matheus Leist, makes him appear further behind than he is. For Collard, it can be boiled down to – score 81 points.
Points Needed from Each Driver to Beat their Rivals Average
|Points needed to Beat:|
Current + W'kend Average
|R. Collard||M. Leist||T. Randle||T. Sowery||Expected Total|
|Difference to Leader||0||-15||-51||-62|
|*Maximum of 95 points available|
Unsurprisingly, Collard will need to have a poor weekend in order for his rivals to catch him. Though interestingly, Thomas Randle and Toby Sowery sit so far behind the Carlin driver, a perfect weekend from either will not be enough to win. Only misfortune from their rivals can help their cause.
As for Sowery, an average weekend for him will not be enough to beat either Leist or Collard’s pre-Donington total, indicated by the minuses. He will need about 67 points this weekend in order to just beat Randle.
The Australian is also aware of the uphill task facing him. Providing the two in front have normal weekends, it will be impossible for him to move up. Thus needing 51 points, just to catch up with the current leader. Like Sowery though, he has nothing to lose and will hope to end his season with another few podiums.
Unlike his rivals, Leist’s destiny lies in his own hands. He needs 83 points to beat Collard’s average and with 95 available, there’s no reason why the gap cannot close. Saying that, Leist has failed to score more than 76 points in a single weekend, his best coming at Spa-Francorchamps.
A perfect weekend from the two behind him will only challenge his second place if he scores lower than average.
Last but not least is Collard. The 20-year-old knows the championship is in his hands and he simply needs to perform on par in order to claim the title. That’s easier said than done though. He’ll need 46 points to beat Leist on an average weekend and 5 to beat Randle by the same measure.
His worst, non-Silverstone weekend, was actually at the first round in which he scored 32 points. As a result, the title is far from confirmed, though he’ll know a single win at Donington should set him up for a dream result.
Pole position has been vital this season with 9 out of 13 being converted into a win. Collard may have had only four poles this year, though he’s converted all of them, winning only one other race not from the front.
In contrast to this is Sowery and Randle have not won a single race from pole, though both could only manage second place in the one round they started at the front. As for Leist, he won his only race from pole, collecting two victories from further back.
Qualifying will likely play a large role in determining the winner for the weekend. What we know, is that Collard often succeeds from the front, though struggles when further back. He has failed to record a podium in all the reverse grid races this year, often finishing towards the back of the top ten.
As fewer points are awarded for the reverse grid races, it’s minimised the damage for Collard. Though full points did help him last season, in keeping up with the runaway Lando Norris.
On the other hand, Sowery has won exclusively in reverse grid affairs. He’s used them to cling on to a championship battle that has arguably been difficult with his teams machinery, compared to his rivals.
The different teams will be another factor to consider. Sowery (and Lanan Racing) have recorded only two fastest laps this season, while his team-mate has struggled. Akhil Rabindra sits twentieth in the standings, the second lowest of the full season drivers. Recording only a single top ten finish to his name all year.
Elsewhere, Carlin has seen all of its five drivers finish in the top two for at least a race. Nine of the thirteen pole positions have been from them and on average have been the quickest team. Meanwhile Leist, Sowery and Randle’s individual poles were the only ones for their team. Despite this, Double R Racing and Douglas Motorsport have not been too far off the back of Carlin.
The battle for the championship may be the main focus, though there are battles going on throughout the field. One that has been largely forgotten is the battle for fifth.
Enaam Ahmed started the year in fine form, leading the championship after Snetterton. Since then though, he’s struggled. Seeming rather depressed after another poor round in Rockingham, he’s finished on the podium just one more time.
42 points behind him, Indian Tarun Reddy has picked up a podium in the last three rounds and is on form going into Donington. Being only a single point behind Norris (who won’t compete) he could finish sixth, though could easily catch Ahmed should the 17-year-old trip up at season’s end.
Finally there’s the battle for eighth. A podium in the opening race saw many raise their expectations of Aleksanteri Huovinen. Since then though, his season has been one of bad luck and mechanical issues. He now sits three points abreast from Enzo Bortoleto, with the Brazilian and Thomas Maxwell behind all fighting the Finnish driver for best-of-the-rest.
How many will return in 2017 is yet to be seen, though a four-way fight for the title has certainly been the explosive comeback that British F3 needed.