Going into the final Brands Hatch GP race of the F4 British Championship season, Harry Webb was in a strong position. He had been competitive all year and led the Ford F4 Challenge Cup by six points.
This would all end before the first corner though. Rain had made conditions treacherous and contact with Lucca Allen ultimately resulted in damage that ended his race and Cup campaign, with the title going to Hampus Ericsson.
“As a season it was great. Richardson Racing did a great job, we paired well. I think we were a bit unlucky throughout the year with finishes and red flags. But it came down to the last race when someone [Allen/Sharp] clipped us, we picked up damage and that was it. Up until then we were fighting and it was a great year.”
Almost six months since that fateful finale, Webb has dusted himself off, ready for a new challenge in the BRDC British F3 Championship. For once the weather favoured him, topping the opening test session at Donington Park.
“It’s nice to get out, I haven’t been out for five months, I’ve never driven this car in the wet and I’ve never driven the Donington GP either,” he continued. “Donington’s always a really slippery track, so it’s about finding the grip. The cars also pulling me along well.”
“So to come out of it top of the times, is the best start we could possibly hope for. It’d have been nice to have done some testing, but due to sponsorship we couldn’t get out.”
Unlike many, Webb’s winter has not been spent on the tarmac, with his last outing in the Tatuus-Cosworth coming at Snetterton back in November with the Chris Dittmann Racing team.
“There was no official times,” he continued. “But I think the pace we were setting was pretty much on the money. It was also my first day in the F3 car as well, we’d only done two days. They’ve got a bit more power, more grip and they feel nice to drive.”
“I’ve known Chris for a couple of years, we did some (BRDC) F4 testing in 2014 and I’ve always kept in touch with him. He’s been around karting since I was as well, where we got on well.”
Webb is clearly not a driver prepared to hold back though. When asked for 2018 aims, he simply responded; ‘To win’, with nothing less than the championship on his mind.
“I think with a bit of testing at the start of the year it’s possible. I don’t see why not, everyone’s here at Donington doing the times they can do.”
A one minded approach can be expected from young drivers, though Webb was quick to dismiss the fact he’d considered any potential rivals.
“To be honest I haven’t really looked. On a test day, you go out there, do your best time and if anyone’s quicker than you, that is what it is.”
Despite only narrowly missing out on the Challenge Cup title, the 20-year-old admitted it was not likely he’d have returned to the F4 series, even if he had secured the free entry for 2018 that the Cup promised.
“If the deal was still here to do F3, I think I would have still thought about F3 as you want to do a bit of a step up every time.”
This may have been partly influenced by Webb’s own experience in the Mygale. “They are very different cars, the F3’s got more aero, more grip, more power. The F4 is a difficult car to drive, a lot of people have said that, the F3 just suits me more as a driver.”
Chris Dittmann told TCF that he was planning to bring in a second driver to the team, though so far, a deal with anyone does not appear on the horizon. Webb himself seemed unfazed about the prospect of a year alone, with the team still able to rely upon data from the past two seasons.
Despite this, Webb has big expectations of CDR, even though the team having collected just one podium in their two BRDC F3 campaigns.
Webb eventually ended the day eleventh fastest as the rain cleared and the track dried up. His time would have been enough for twelfth on last years Donington grid, with the Norfolk racer acknowledging that qualifying would be more vital than it had been in British F4.
“You want to qualify as high as you can, as it makes your life easier no matter the circumstance. Though obviously with more aero it’s harder to follow, but the racing should still be close even if it’s still difficult.”
With a full season now secured with the team, he prepares for the first round at Oulton Park and the opening race on March 31.