The third round of the 2019 BRDC British Formula 3 Championship saw the national single-seater racing championship take to the home of British motorsport at the Silverstone GP circuit, where the series upstarts once again went hammer and tongues in the next chapter for the battle for the drivers title. Clement Novalak came into the weekend some 37 points clear of his nearest title rival Johnathan Hoggard after the Fortec Motorsports driver crashed during race three at Snetterton, and despite Novalak showing great pace all weekend and Hoggard having to pay even further for his race three crash courtsey of a ten place grid penalty in race one, the top two leave Silverstone with Hoggard a point closer to Novalak ahead of the championship’s first visit to Donnington Park this year.
Race one saw Novalak continue his unstoppable form in the 2019 championship as the Carlin racer led from pole position, as both Neil Verhagen and Ayrton Simmons battled it out over second position for the first half of the race, thus allowing Novalak to hold an insumountable four seconds over the 15 minute race.
As despite only clearing Novalak at half race distance, Simmons was able to half Novalak’s race-winning margin to two seconds and showed great form which would set him on course for a phenomenal weekend for the Chris Dittmann Racing driver. Verhagen finished a solid third ahead of the chasing pack led by Kaylen Frederick in fourth, Manuel Maldonado, Sasakorn Chaimongkol, Ulysse De Pauw and championship protaginist Hoggard in eighth.
This was despite the fact that fourth and fifth positions were occupied by Kiern Jewiss and Hampus Ericsson for the majority of the first race, but the pair tangled at The Loop on the final lap, which saw Jewiss squander across the line in ninth, with Ericsson’s seventh position became fourteenth after the Swede was given a post-race penalty for the incident with the Douglas Motorsport driver.
The reverse-grid race maintained its 100% record of the polesitter securing race victory despite all the odds with Frederick and Lucas Peterssen doing likewise at Oulton Park and Snetterton. But it was behind that the intrigue lay as reverse-grid race winner from last year Pavan Ravishankar soon dispatched of Nicolas Varrone for second on the opening lap as the Argentine debutant soon became the stopper in the bottle, meaning it was a true test for the championship challengers to see who could negotiate their way through the traffic best of all.
And after a sub-optimal start to the weekend, Hoggard cut his way through the traffic like a fish in the ocean as the Fortec racer made up ten positions by the end of the race to overhaul Ravishankar for second during a tense race performance. And with the Singaporean racer holding down third and Varrone somehow maintained fourth, Simmons was the other big winner as the Chris Dittmann Racing driver made up twelve places to finish fifth, and in so doing, backed up his race one performance earlier in the weekend.
However after contact with race one podium finisher Neil Verhagen at the start of the race, Novalak was compromised which saw his progress limited him to crossing the line in ninth place, which saw his dominant championship lead slip a little.
But it was in race three that the true drama occurred as after holding the first two positions on the road throughout race three, both Verhagen and championship leader Novalak were given five second penalties for leaving the track and gaining an advantage multiple times during the race.
Consequently, this meant that Verhagen and Novalak ended up finishing fifth and sixth while Simmons, who was third on the road, followed them across the line to win his first race at this level, with Hoggard tucked up behind to record a second successive podium finish in a damage-limitation weekend for the Fortec Motorsports driver. And as they were within five seconds of the top four, both Frederick and Jewiss (who had a tough weekend up until that point) benefited from the post-race time penalties to finish third and fourth respectively despite only finishing fifth and sixth on the road.
So while Novalak may seem to have everything under control at over a third of the way through the season, Hoggard and Simmons are now starting to come on strong, and with the top three seperated by 45 points heading to the next round of the championship at Donnington Park, it is still all to play for. Will Hoggard and Simmons make good their momentum or is Novalak able to maintain his comfortable championship lead? After an unpredictable round at Silverstone GP circuit, it is game on for in the 2019 BRDC British F3 Championship.