DAMS and Valsecchi on Sepang Pole

Davide Valsecchi

Sepang has seen the 2011 Champions DAMS continue where they left off as Davide Valsecchi secured Pole Position for the opening race of the season.

Valsecchi, who was shown plenty of speed throughout the winter tests backed up his pre season form by setting his benchmark time early in the session and wasn’t beaten throughout the remainder of the qualifying session.

Valsecchi said about his pole position: “First of all, I’d like to thank my engineers and mechanics who have given me such a well-prepared car. I’m very happy for them – and also for myself – but the job isn’t done yet as we’ll have to confirm our performance in the race. In any case, we’ve got off to a great start.”

Team-mate to Valsecchi at DAMS is the 2011 British Formula 3 Champion, Brazilian driver Felipe Nasr. He gave the French outfit more reason to smile after qualifying tenth for his debut GP2 race. He will line up ninth after another driver recieved a grid penalty.

Nasr added: “My tenth place isn’t too bad but I’d have liked to do a bit better. This being said it’s my first race in GP2 and I’d like to thank my team for all the help they’ve given me. I’ll do my best to give them a good result this weekend.”

The qualifying performances show that the team will be right in the thick of the Championship battle, and with the blend of experience and youth, it sets the team up well for a successful 2012 season.

DAMS CEO, Jean-Paul Driot added: “Obviously we all feel very satisfied not only because of the pole position, but also because of the overall result of our two drivers. I’d like to congratulate them and the whole team who have laid down a marker right at the start of the season.”

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Sims and Huertas Round off 2011 British F3 Season with Silverstone Victories.

The final two races of the 2011 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series at Silverstone saw the returning Alexander Sims (Motopark) and Carlos Huertas (Carlin) secure the victories to round off the season.

For Huertas, the victory marked the best way possible for him to celebrate his British F3 career drawing to a close – it was his first victory in three seasons and it helped him to secure a top three Championship Position. Kevin Magnussen (Carlin) finished as the series Vice Champion and along with Champion Felipe Nasr (Carlin); the trio will head to Spain next month for a prize test drive in a World Series by Renault car.

Round Twenty Nine: Sims Masters Changeable Silverstone Conditions.

The penultimate round of the 2011 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series saw the returning Sims secure the victory ahead of the series regulars as the Motopark driver mastered the challenging conditions at Silverstone.

Sims and the Motopark outfit joined the British F3 field in preparation for the Macau Grand Prix and he lined up on the front row of the grid for the sprint race but off the line, the fast starting Lucas Foresti (Fortec Motorsport) flew past Sims and into the lead.

The GP3 driver was soon back into second and chasing down the Brazilian, and once ahead, he had an untroubled run to the flag.

Overnight rain had left the teams’ with a dilemma over which tyres to use and the entire twenty three car field took to the track for two sighter laps on slick tyres – once on the grid, a number of runners then made the switch to wets.

Pole Sitter Pietro Fantin (Hitech Racing) and Sims were amongst those who made the switch to wet weather tyres but the best start came from Foresti from the third row of the grid, who led into Copse ahead of Fantin and Sims.

Brazilian Foresti held the advantage for three laps until Sims, who had taken second from Fantin before the end of the opening lap – made his move at Brooklands and the pair almost banged wheels just before, up at Vale as they fought over the race lead. Once ahead of Foresti, Sims put in a number of quick laps to take the flag 7.897s ahead of Foresti.

“We didn’t have much time on the grid to make the call on tyres but when I came round to the grid, my engineers felt the tyres and I’d not been able get any heat in them so it was clear wets were the way to go,” Sims said. “It was quite challenging initially as Foresti and Fantin were ahead of me at the start as they got away better than me, but I realised quite early that my pace was good and that we’d made the right tyre choice. It was all about managing the tyres and then when I got in front, pushing to build my lead.”

Foresti finished a comfortable second with Fantin completing the top three, a further seven back from his fellow Brazilian.

“It was hard to decide on tyres and I was the first to go to wets, I thought I was going to be the only one at first,” he said. “I made a good start to jump to P1 and then used my head to get points. Alex isn’t fighting for points for the championship as it’s his first race of the season, but I am, so I didn’t want to do anything stupid.”

Fantin, unable to keep up with the pace set by Sims and Foresti finished third, ahead of the driver of the race, Menasheh Idafar (T-Sport). Idafar had started back on the tenth row of the grid but had worked his way up to fourth by the end of the opening lap. He finished ahead of Pipo Derani (Double R Racing); Derani himself had come up from eighth on the grid.

Jark Harvey finished sixth and top Carlin driver. Harvey had been the only Carlin driver to start on wets and he finished just ahead of the first slick shot runner, team-mate and Champion Nasr. Nasr finished just 0.012s behind Harvey after a drag race to the flag.

Magnussen rounded out the top eight, having taken the position from team-mate Huertas in the latter stages and also secured the fastest lap of the race, worth an extra two points. This opened up his advantage over Huertas to nineteen points with the feature race remaining. Yann Cunha (T-Sport) completed the top ten, while Kotaro Sakurai (Hitech) and Guilherme Silva (Hitech) had unchallenged races in the Rookie and Invitational Classes respectively.

Hywel Lloyd (Sino Vision Racing) and Bart Hylkema saw their races end at Copse on the opening lap after they came together while Fahmi Ilyas (Fortec Motorsport) spun out at Luffield on the third lap and retired.

Round Thirty – Huertas Signs Off With Victory.

The thirtieth and final race of the 2011 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series saw Huertas finally break his duck after a controlled drive in the forty minute feature race at Silverstone, leading home team-mates Magnussen and Rupert Svendsen-Cook for a Carlin 1-2-3.

Having started on the front row, Huertas beat Magnussen on track to secure his maiden victory in the series and third in the overall Championship, behind Magnussen.

Colombian racer Huertas lined up second on the grid but took the lead from Magnussen at Copse on the opening lap and never looked back as he secured victory by half a second. The two Carlin drivers had been trading tenths of a second on each lap.

“I’m very happy,” Huertas said. “I’ve been close a few times; especially last year when I lost two races I shouldn’t have lost. This year the opposition has been tough and I’ve been close a few times. I wanted more wins but its all part of the learning process and I’m very happy. I got a good start and had the inside line so I just kept it fair and then pushed to the maximum every lap.

“What I do now all depends on budget but the team working with me are looking at World Series and that is a realistic option. I still have one more race in F3, at Macau, which is a special race with a lot of good drivers, but that’s the end for me now in British F3.”

Following home Huertas in the season finale was enough for Magnussen to secure second in the Championship – not quite replicating father Jan’s title success of 1994 – and the role of Vice Champion behind Nasr.

“I’m happy to be second after a tough year as I’ve had a lot of bad races this year,” he said. “I’ve learned so much and it’s been a great experience that I can take a lot from for next season. This is the first time I’ve finished on the podium without winning. That is a lesson I think: that everything counts and you need to take what you can and be patient.”

Svendsen-Cook completed the Carlin podium lock out in the season finale after a lonely race which saw the lead two pull away from the young British driver, and he finished his season on the podium.

“I started fourth and the pace showed we could win the race,” he said. “When I got past Lucas I was closing on the guys in front but I lost too much time at the start. Considering we didn’t score points in the first two races when I qualified fourth, it had been a disaster this weekend, so to come back and finish with a podium is good.”

Fourth and securing his first points in British F3 was young Kiwi Mitch Evans (Double R Racing), the GP3 Series race winner moved himself into fourth on the fourth tour when Foresti made a mistake and then fended off the attacks from Will Buller (Fortec Motorsport), who had even taken to the grass on the row down to Stowe to try and move ahead of Evans.

Fifth was enough for Buller to end the season fourth overall, the top British driver in the series and as the top Mercedes driver. Foresti rounded out the top five despite front end damage to his Fortec Dallara-Mercedes. Foresti was awarded the Sunoco Driver of the Weekend for his performances over the weekend.

The top ten was completed by race two winner Sims, Fantin, Jazeman Jaafar (Carlin) and Lloyd, while Champion Nasr saw his race ended prematurely.

His hopes of securing the final victory of the season went at the end of the opening lap with a puncture, which slowed him and he then clashed with Russian Max Snegirev (Hitech Racing), the Russian was out on the spot while Nasr recovered to the pits for repairs. He rejoined the race but finished his season for good a few laps later.

A number of drivers fell foul of the race stewards due to exceeding track limits, Scott Pye (Double R Racing) and Harvey were among the drivers to be penalised while Sakurai secured an unchallenged victory in the rookie class despite a drive through penalty. Invitational runner Silva saw his race finish after thirteen laps when he spun off and into the gravel.

Magnussen Secures Dominant Silverstone Victory.

Kevin Magnussen secured his seventh victory of the 2011 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series with a dominant drive during the opening race of the season finale at Silverstone.

Magnussen, who arrived at Silverstone as one of five drivers who could finish the season as the Championship runner up led all the way from Pole Position to match the wins tally of his team-mate at Champion, Felipe Nasr. He also secured the fastest lap of the race as he secured the victory by eight seconds from Double R Racing’s Scott Pye.

Heading into the final two races of the season tomorrow, Magnussen currently sits six points clear of his nearest rival for second overall, team-mate Carlos Huertas.

Magnussen said that he would like to secure another victory tomorrow as it would move him ahead of Nasr in terms of wins in the 2011 season: “That would be the optimum thing but Felipe isn’t the most important person I have to beat because it is me and Carlos who are fighting it out for championship second. Everything worked out perfectly in this race; the car was awesome, I made a good start and after that everything went my way really.”

Champion Nasr saw his hopes of challenging Magnussen dashed from the off:  “I had a problem with the clutch and I couldn’t get a very good start. Then I had to follow the car in front and that made my tyres worse.”

Splitting the two Carlin team-mates was Rockingham race winner Pye, who made a good getaway from third on the grid to move ahead of Nasr. He then set about chasing down Magnussen for the victory: “I got a good start but unfortunately after the first lap I couldn’t stay with Kevin. There were a couple of opportunities on the first lap but I think he was running a bit more down force and through the middle sector he was pulling that little bit on me. But second is great; I can’t stop smiling. The whole team have worked very hard for this. It feels almost too late, but I guess it’s a good way to finish the season. Hopefully I can come back next year and shoot for the championship.”

At the flag, Magnussen won by eight seconds from Pye, who in turn was 1.3s ahead of Nasr. The only positional change inside the top ten came with Jazeman Jaafar’s pass on Lucas Foresti for fourth on the sixth lap.

Foresti led home his Fortec team-mate, Will Buller for fifth while the visiting Alexander Sims finished eighth for Motopark, behind Colombian Huertas. Pietro Fantin and Jack Harvey rounded out the top ten.

Another one of the contenders for second in the Championship, Rupert Svendsen-Cook saw his attempts to secure the Vice Champion position hampered by a split brake line on the line while British F3 debutant, Mitch Evans, saw his race finish prematurely as he spun out on the seventh lap.

Kotaro Sakurai secured an unchallenged victory in the rookie class while another British Formula 3 debutant, Guilherme Silva secured the honours in the Invitational Class. Both drivers secured their wins in Hitech cars.

The final two races will see Magnussen, Huertas, Buller and Jaafar all with their sights set on finishing second to Nasr while Svendsen-Cook will look to finish third overall.

Huertas Finishes Opening day at Silverstone on Top.

Carlos Huertas finished the opening day of the final Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series race weekend on top after the final testing sessions ahead of the final three rounds of the 2011 season at Silverstone.

Colombian Huertas is one of five drivers who are competing for the role of Vice Champion at Silverstone and he is looking to finish off his three year stint in the Championship on a high note.

Huertas was able to play the weather conditions to perfection – he lapped the 3.7 Mile Silverstone circuit in 1m53.703s just before a brief but heavy rain shower. He ended the day 0.2s ahead of Felipe Nasr, the 2011 Champion.

“The weather was kind to me,” said Carlos, “but the car feels good in the dry. It was useful to get some wet running also, and I am happy whatever the conditions are tomorrow. Today counts for nothing really, but I hope it is a good omen for my final F3 races.”

Nasr had been the quickest driver in the morning session, ahead of his fellow Carlin team-mates Kevin Magnussen, Jack Harvey and Jazeman Jaafar. Top Mercedes runner was Fahmi Ilyas while sixth fastest was GP3 runner Alexander Sims for the visiting Motopark outfit.

The second session saw Huertas, Nasr and Rupert Svendsen-Cook top the times while fourth fastest was British F3 debutant Mitch Evans. Kiwi Evans was backing up his form from the official test last week at the wheel of the Double R Racing Dallara-Mercedes. He lapped the circuit three tenths of a second quicker than team-mate Scott Pye.

There were a couple of off track moments during the slippery morning session, as Ilyas and Guilherme Silva experienced, the latter in the Hitech car while Russian Max Snegirev went off during the second session. None of the drivers suffered any major damage.

Qualifying for the first of the three Silverstone races takes place at 11.25 tomorrow, October 8 with round twenty eight getting underway at 15.10.

Five drivers are still looking to secure a top three position and with it, the valuable half day test in a World Series by Renault car in Spain. Huertas, Magnussen, William Buller, Svendsen-Cook and Jazeman Jaafar all have their eyes on the top three positions leaving Silverstone.

Svendsen-Cook Secures Second Win of 2011 at Donington Park.

Rupert Svendsen-Cook (Carlin) did his chances of finishing second in the overall Championship no harm at all as he secured his second victory of the 2011 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series campaign at Donington Park.

Suffolk based Svendsen-Cook led all the way during round twenty five of the season, having qualified on Pole Position earlier in the day. The victory was secured after an immaculate start and opening lap, which saw him, pull out a second’s gap over team-mate Carlos Huertas, who was also his closest challenger.

After twenty one laps around the Donington Park Grand Prix circuit, Svendsen-Cook has pulled away from Huertas by 3.2s and afterwards, he said:  “I got a fantastic start; the car had a really good feel throughout the race. I wasn’t so happy with the balance of the car in qualifying, but we made a few changes and the car was bang-on for the race. Everything was under control and I’m happy to get another victory to add to the one I scored at Monza at the start of the year.

“I definitely think that there is more to come from me this weekend. It’s going to be difficult starting race two from eighth, but I think that from third in race three we can get a podium.”

Rounding out the top three in the opening race was Jack Harvey, who completed an all Carlin podium. Huertas made the better start and he slotted in ahead of Harvey. Harvey chased hard but wasn’t able to find a way past as he had to settle for third, and his fourth podium finish of the season.

Carlin locked out the top three but only one of their other three drivers saw the chequered flag – both Kevin Magnussen and newly crowned Champion Felipe Nasr failed to finish. The two came to blows at the hairpin on lap two and both pitted – Magnussen rejoined the race, set a new lap record before calling it a day.

Nasr, meanwhile, had to settle for the Daytona 24 Hour drive he had secured via Sunoco, due to his qualifying performances.

This left Jazeman Jaafar as the only remaining Carlin driver in contention and he finished inside the top ten, fifth overall behind Scott Pye (Double R Racing), but ahead of Pye’s newly recruited team-mate, GP3 Champion Valtteri Bottas.

Pipo Derani was on course to make it three Double R Cars inside the top ten until he had contact with T-Sports Menasheh Idafar, and the Brazilian dropped down four positions, and the incident is under review by the race stewards.

Idafar secured seventh, ahead of Harry Tincknell (Fortec), Will Buller (Fortec) and Max Snegirev (Hitech) – for Snegirev, it was his first point’s finish of the season.

Tomorrow morning’s sprint race will see Tincknell on Pole Position as the top eight drivers were reversed.

Plenty to Play for at Donington Park for British Formula 3 Field.

The battle for the position of the 2011 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series Vice Champion is hotting up as the series heads to the East Midlands once again and the Donington Park Grand Prix circuit – it is the series first experience of the Donington Park Grand Prix circuit for seven seasons.

Next weekend, 24/25 September, will see Kevin Magnussen (Carlin), William Buller (Fortec Motorsport), Carlos Huertas (Carlin), Jazeman Jaafar (Carlin) and Rupert Svendsen-Cook (Carlin) take to the track for the penultimate race weekend of the season and all with their eyes on the prize for finishing in the top three – joining Felipe Nasr (Carlin) for a free half day test at Motorland Aragon on the 28 November in a World Series by Renault car.

“It’s an exceptional prize,” said British Formula 3 championship manager Lisa Crampton, “and one which all those drivers who have a chance will be keen to grab. It’s going to make the last six races of the season particularly exciting.”

Heading into the three Donington Park Grand Prix races, three points separate Danish driver Magnussen and Ulsterman Buller, who currently occupy second and third in the Championship – while a trio of Carlin drivers sit just behind them and eager to close the gap to Magnussen and Buller.

Buller, who has shown some impressive form over the last few races – having secured three victories and two podiums in the last nine races is keen to keep this form going: “Even though the title has now gone, I’ll keep pushing hard to secure second place and the honour of being top British driver in the standings.”

Buller will have to fight Nasr all the way at Donington Park – having secured the crown last time out at Rockingham, the nineteen year old Brazilian driver will be taking risks to secure victories as the pressure is off.

Kotaru Sakurai (Hitech Racing) will win the British Formula 3 International Series rookie crown at Donington Park, as he is the only class entrant. The seventeen year old has claimed the class honours on eleven occasions this season.

Hitech Racing will arrive at Donington Park with three cars as Russian driver Max Snegirev joins the field alongside Rockingham victor Pietro Fantin, while Double R Racing may enter a third car alongside Pipo Derani and Scott Pye, another of the Rockingham race winners.

T-Sport will enter their normal trio of drivers, Menasheh Idafar, Bart Hylkema and Yann Cunha while Fortec Motorsport’s Lucas Foresti, Harry Tincknell, Fahmi Ilyas and Jack Harvey from Carlin complete the line up.

Donington Park Schedule:

Thursday, 22 September:

11.00 – Free Practice (55 Mins)
14.00 – Free Practice (55 Mins)

Saturday, 24 September:

10.40 – Qualifying
15.40 – Round 25 (30 Minutes)

Sunday, 25 September:

10.15 – Round 26 (20 Mins)
13.40 – Round 27 (40 Minutes)

Felipe Nasr: 2011 British F3 Champion.

Rockingham saw the 2011 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series Champion crowned. Felipe Nasr followed in the footsteps of Brazilian icons such as Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna as he became the twelfth Brazilian driver to win the British F3 title, a crown which is considered as one of the most prestigious in world Motorsport.

Nasr secured the crown with six rounds of the season left and at Rockingham; he recorded his fifteenth and sixteenth podiums in just twenty four races, proving his ability and potential throughout the season in the Carlin-Volkswagen car.

Since the last round at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, Nasr has celebrated his nineteenth birthday and the pace setter in the Championship described winning the British Formula 3 crown as a “unique feeling”: “It’s a unique feeling for sure”, said the new champion, “It really is amazing, I don’t think I quite understand what it all means yet! There has been a lot of hard work behind this, taking the title so early shows we worked harder than the others and we deserve it – everyone from the team, my family and everyone that has helped us. I’m really, really happy.”

For Nasr, winning the British Formula 3 International Series crown is of great importance as many of his fellow Brazilian counterparts have gone on to establish themselves with great racing careers after securing the British F3 crown.

As the twelfth Brazilian Champion of British Formula 3, he follows in the likes of Nelson Piquet, current Williams Formula 1 driver Rubens Barrichello and the late Ayrton Senna. As well as following in the wheel tracks of the Brazilian racing legends, his success in 2011 has seen Carlin secure their fourth drivers’ title in succession.

2008 Champion Jaime Alguersuari and 2009 Champion Daniel Ricciardo have both progressed into Formula 1 while the 2010 Champion, Jean-Eric Vergne is on the verge of breaking into F1.

He could be forgiven for calling time on the season now he has the title, but Nasr is hoping to add to his tally of seven race wins during the final two race weekend’s of the season, at Donington Park in the East Midlands later this month and at Silverstone, Northamptonshire in October.

“It’s great to put my name with the others from Brazil”, he added, “That is a really special feeling and it means a lot to me and is big for my career too. We’ve won the championship but we’re still going to do the next races – we want more wins so that’s what I’m going out there to do.”

Unsurprisingly, Nasr started off the eighth race weekend of the season on the front foot and in qualifying; he secured himself a front row start for rounds twenty two and twenty four.

He was odds on to secure the victory during Saturday’s opening race but his dominant run was brought to an early end after the race officials awarded him a drive through penalty for not respecting track limits at turn eight – this dropped him down the order but he recovered to finish sixth. He also secured the races fastest lap – a 1m13.322s.

Starting from third in Sunday Morning’s wet opening encounter, the Champion Elect produced another great, Champion like drive as he moved into second early on and he then looked to challenge for the victory. Setting the fastest lap once again, his challenge was curtailed by a slow, right rear puncture and he nursed the Carlin car home second.

Heading into the final race of the weekend, Nasr knew he could secure the title with another strong result and he produced the strong result in similar conditions to those in the opening race.

Round twenty four saw the Safety car play its part twice. Nasr was able to hold second place for over half the race distance but a small mistake up at Deene on the fourteenth lap cost him second. He then settled for third, which was enough to give him the 2011 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series title.

Next up for the newly crowned Champion is a trip to Donington Park Grand Prix Circuit for rounds twenty five, twenty six and twenty seven over the 24/25 September.