South African rising star Alan van der Merwe (Carlin Motorsport) has totally dominated the first half of this season's British Formula Three championship and after five superb wins leads the series by a impressive 64 points. The ...
South African rising star Alan van der Merwe (Carlin Motorsport) has totally dominated the first half of this season's British Formula Three championship and after five superb wins leads the series by a impressive 64 points.
The British F3 championship is a well-weathered stepping-stone to Formula One and in one of the most competitive seasons ever; van der Merwe has set the British race tracks alight to become South Africa's most successful driver in the category.
"This season has been fantastic so far," said Alan "My aim at the start of the season was to have a convincing points advantage over my opposition by mid season. At this stage in the championship we are looking good although there are another twelve races before the series is finally decided."
Alan van der Merwe's season began with two-second places at Donington Park for the opening rounds which was followed by a pair of totally dominant drives at the next meeting at Snetterton.
Alan was never headed the whole weekend. Two ultra-fast laps in qualifying gave Alan and his Carlin Motorsport machine pole for both races, which he subsequently led for every lap to score two amazing victories. "After our result at Donington, to go and get two wins was such a fantastic feeling because it gave us an important early lead in the championship."
At the next round at Croft, the 23-year-old scored another brilliant win and was looking unstoppable in his hunt for the crown. Then a week later at the notorious Knockhill circuit, Alan scored sixteen points finishing sixth and fourth for rounds seven and eight as the tight Fife circuit upset the formbook.
In May, Alan raced at the famous Silverstone Grand Prix circuit but suffered from set up issues in the opening race, yet recovered brilliantly to storm to another victory for the second of the weekends races, which was his most satisfying of the season so far.
"We turned that around so well since struggling during race one. I was more disappointed at having made the wrong decision on my set up," said Alan, "but the following day Mark, my engineer did a great job in adjusting the set up on my car to suit the track and conditions. I had a great start and left the rest of the field behind me. That race was very important for me because we showed when the chips are down we can bounce back to be competitive again and win."
Twelve months ago Alan scored his first F3 triumph at the Castle Combe circuit in Wiltshire. In early June he returned to the scene of his maiden victory, where he piloted his Dallara F303 Mugen-Honda around the high-speed track to record another memorable victory.
With five wins so far this season, Alan has more victories in British F3 than any other former South African driver, eclipsing the achievements of Mike White in the late 70's and more recently Tomas Scheckter, who drove for Paul Stewart Racing in 2001.
Alan has raced this year with aggression, superb natural speed and maturity to lead his highly rated Carlin Motorsport team mates in the championship.
Alan went on to say, "The Carlin team have been great this season. We've had to work really hard for these results and to keep this advantage over my team mates and the rest of the grid. This is my second season in British F3 with the Carlin team and we are working really well together. I know how the team works, I know the car, the circuits and how to get the most out of my tyres. The whole package has matured since last year and we are proving very consistent and difficult to beat."
Alan is the one that everybody is trying to catch this season and as he enters the second half of the year, his form will have to continue in the same vein if he is to lift this year's championship title.
Alan's series attack continues at Oulton Park on 12/13 July for rounds 13 and 14 of the British F3 championship.