The 2021 BRDC British Formula 3 Championship gets underway at Brands Hatch GP on May 22/23.
The Championship visited the Kent circuit just once last season, and this weekend is expected to be the only visit in 2021, with a test day on the Indy layout taking place on Friday.
Fans can expect a Practice and Qualifying session, as well as Race 1, on Saturday, with two races on Sunday.
What happened last time at Brands Hatch?
Brands Hatch was an unhappy hunting ground for eventual 2020 champion Kaylen Frederick, who tangled with Lanan Racing‘s Piers Prior in Race 1 and 2, his DNF in Race 2 placing him towards the back of the grid for Race 3, which was determined by the fastest lap in Race 2.
That format has changed for this season, which we’ll get onto later.
Ayrton Simmons returned to the grid with Chris Dittmann Racing, having taken third-place in the 2019 standings, and took two wins as Frederick’s title push faltered the most it would all season.
He started from pole in Race 1 and Race 2, as his second-fastest time in Qualifying was quicker than that of Josh Skelton and the rest.
Kush Maini and Ulysse de Pauw joined Simmons on the podium in Race 1, while Nazim Azman took his only win of the season for Carlin in Race 2 ahead of 2021 Hitech GP team-mates Reece Ushijima and Bart Horsten.
Simmons beat Skelton and Maini to Race 3 honours, with Maini taking Race 4 ahead of de Pauw and Double R Racing‘s Louis Foster.
The clockwise Brands Hatch GP circuit is 3.908km long, and will host three British F3 races over the weekend, each lasting 12 laps or 20 minutes, whichever comes sooner.
The fastest race lap of the weekend came courtesy of Ayrton Simmons in Race 3, who set a 1:21.251 on his way to his second win of the weekend.
The full circuit has ten corners, seven right and three left.
Sector 1 runs from the start-finish line to the Cooper Straight and Sector 2 takes in Surtees and Pilgrims Drop.
Sector 3 has the tricky right-handers of Hawthorn, Westfield, Dingle Dell and Sheene Curve, while Sector 4 comprises Stirling Bend and Clearways to complete the lap.
It’s one of the most undulating circuits on the calendar along with Spa-Francorchamps and Donington Park, the polar opposite of Silverstone, which the Championship visits next, and Snetterton.
What to look out for this time
The obvious suggestion would be the host of exciting new drivers we’ll welcome to the British F3 grid in 2021, so let’s start there.
Among their number is Danish F4 and French F4 race winner, and Danish Endurance Championship class winner Mikkel Grundtvig, who lines up for Fortec Motorsports.
Zak O’Sullivan missed out on the FIA Formula 4 British Championship by four points last season, and stays with Carlin as he moves up.
Only six of the 19-car entry for the first round competed in the series at any point last year, as drivers move up the ladder, sideways or try to find options for 2021.
Ayrton Simmons will be among the title favourites, with five wins and a third-place final position under his belt in the series already.
Chris Dittmann Racing‘s ‘winningest’ driver seems to have all the tools around him to put up a real challenge this year, and we saw last year how impressive he can be at Brands Hatch.
It’s a long season – 24 races in prospect – but if he, or anyone, can get off to a good start, they would certainly welcome the early advantage.
It’s not just the drivers who’ll be fighting for honours this season though. The new Teams’ Championship will take each team’s best two results from each race and compile them into a separate table in which Douglas Motorsport and Elite Motorsport can battle for team supremacy against the likes of Carlin and Hitech GP.
The grid for Race 1 will be set by each driver’s fastest qualifying time, as we’re used to.
Race 2’s grid will be determined by each driver’s second-fastest time, while Race 3 is a simple reversal of the entire grid from Race 1 (i.e. qualifying results reversed).
This does away with last season’s format where Race 2 and 3 were determined by the fastest laps in the preceding race.
What’s the schedule?
Saturday 22 May
9am – Free Practice
11:50am – Qualifying
3:30pm – Race 1
Sunday 23 May
11:10am – Race 2
4:15pm – Race 3
How can I keep up with the action?
The 2021 BRDC British Formula 3 Championship begins at Brands Hatch GP on 22/23 May, supporting the Intelligent Money British GT Championship.
The Checkered Flag will be bringing you all the action from the season.
Live timing is also provided by TSL Timing, with official live-streams of Sunday’s Race 2 and 3 on the ‘BRDC British Formula 3 Championship‘ YouTube channel.