SEASON PREVIEW: 2021 BRDC British Formula 3 Championship – Carlin

3 Mins read
Credit: Jakob Ebrey

Carlin come into 2021 as reigning BRDC British Formula 3 champions for the second successive season, but also enter with an all-new driver line-up.

Last year’s champion Kaylen Frederick is running with the Farnham team in FIA Formula 3, Nazim Azman has moved to CryptoTower Racing Team in EuroFormula Open, while Guilherme Peixoto completed the first two rounds of the season at Oulton Park and Donington Park and has yet to outline any plans for 2021.

The Checkered Flag takes a look at what one of the most successful junior single-seater outfits can expect as they search for a third consecutive British F3 title.

Zak O’Sullivan – #51 – GBR

Zak O’Sullivan (above)’s move to British F3 was announced in January after he finished runner-up in the British F4 Championship, four points behind champion Luke Browning.

He finished on the podium 18 times last season, winning more races than any other driver.

He said in January: “My long term goal is to reach Formula One and after a successful first season together, I’m delighted to be staying with Carlin as I take my next step towards that aim.

“I’ve already had three tests in the car and have really enjoyed it every time. It’s a sizeable step up from the F4 car and I always enjoy jumping into something quicker.”

Christian Mansell – #23 – AUS

Christian Mansell has graduated to BRDC British F3 with Carlin.
Photo credit: Jakob Ebrey

Australian driver Christian Mansell (no relation to Nigel, as commentators are often at pains to add) will have plenty of ideas about how to race O’Sullivan, given the two were team-mates at Carlin in British F4 last year.

That campaign was Mansell’s first on British soil, and he acquitted himself brilliantly on his first visits to Silverstone, Oulton Park et al, finishing seventh overall and winning the Rookie Cup from Arden‘s Frederick Lubin.

He took four podiums over the season, including a maiden win at Brands Hatch.

Mansell said of the move: “I’m super happy to be staying with Carlin for another season.

“We had some other options open to us, but it made sense to stay in a team that has pushed and supported me so much in 2020 and also to build on the experience I have on the UK’s circuits.

Team Principal Trevor Carlin is positive that the Tatuus BF3-020 suits Mansell’s driving style, and “believe[s] we’ll see some great performances from him this season.

Bryce Aron – #21 – USA

American Bryce Aron has moved up to BRDC British F3 with Carlin for the 2021 season
Credit: Carlin

Despite Kaylen Frederick’s departure to the European scene, Carlin will still have an American in its British F3 garage in 2021, in the form of Formula Ford star Bryce Aron.

He took a third-place finish in the 2019 F1600 Championship Series with eight podiums, before a fourth-place finish in the Castle Combe FF1600 and fifth in the BRSCC National Championship with Low Dempsey Racing after crossing the Atlantic to take his racing into the UK for 2020.

He is also the first American driver to finish on the podium, and in the top five, in the Walter Hayes Trophy and the Formula Ford Festival.

“I had the opportunity to test the F3 car at the end of last year and was blown away by the power and the grip the car has, it’s certainly a big step up from the Formula Ford car I had been driving previously,” said Aron.

“No doubt 2021 will be a steep learning curve for me but I’m so excited to be joining Carlin, a team with such a strong history in F3 and the junior formulae.

“To be following in the footsteps of so many incredible drivers that have come through the team feels really exciting.”

The verdict

Like several teams on the grid for 2021, Carlin will enter with an all-new driver line-up and all the uncertainties that accompany that.

But, like British F3 new boys Arden, they are a team steeped in success in the junior single-seater categories. Their two consecutive British F3 titles, claimed by Clément Novalak and Frederick in 2019 and 2020 respectively, can attest to that.

In promoting two-thirds of their 2021 line-up from their British F4 team, they will maintain at least some of the continuity that can be so important when changing drivers.

O’Sullivan more than proved his pace last season, pushing recently-announced BRDC Rising Star, and ADAC Formula 4 driver, Luke Browning, all the way to the end of a curtailed final race before the title was snatched away from him by half-points.

Likewise, Mansell, in taking the Rookie Cup spoils in his first year racing in Britain, has shown his pedigree against the other British F4 graduates on this year’s grid, including both Arden drivers.

Bryce Aron may have the steepest learning curve of the three, in bypassing Formula 4 and moving straight from Formula Ford to Formula 3, but Trevor Carlin is confident the American will learn and develop significantly in his first season at this level.

The BRDC British Formula 3 Championship begins at Brands Hatch on 22/23 May, supporting the Intelligent Money British GT Championship.

The Checkered Flag will be bringing you all the action from the season.

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Stickler for track limits, covering the GB3 Championship and the FIA Formula 3 Championship. Twitter: @MCallanderMedia
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