Race Report – Round 28 (Race 1):
At Silverstone this afternoon Kevin Magnussen (Carlin) stamped his authority all over the latest round of the British F3 series and moved a step closer to claiming the runner up slot in the title chase with a dominant performance in the 30 minute race. He was followed home by Scott Pye (Double R Racing), while Felipe Nasr (Carlin) lost out at the start and consequently spent the race holding off team-mate Jazeman Jaafar for 3rd.
At the start Magnussen was wide awake and paying close attention, and shot into the lead despite Pye, who had got the drop on the slow starting Nasr and very nearly managed to get alongside Magnussen on the run down to Copse. In the pack Rupert Svendsen-Cook (Carlin) was in trouble right away, pieces of bodywork that may or may not have been his flying through the air in the melee before he found himself running out of brakes (a brake line seemed to have split) and thus out of road before eventually limping round to retire before the race was a lap old. Meanwhile at the front Magnussen was already opening a gap to Pye while Nasr had to fight to hold onto 3rd, and further back Jack Harvey (Carlin) and Mitch Evans (Double R Racing) were getting over excited as they scrapped fiercely for 10th place, Harvey coming off best after a wild moment or two. In the midst of all of that it was possible to overlook the start that Lucas Foresti (Fortec Motorsport) made to haul himself up from the 5th row to 4th overall, all seemingly without anyone noticing.
Behind him, Harvey was now in pursuit of Pietro Fantin (Hitech Racing), but an attack on the Brazilian came to nothing and let Evans back onto Harvey’s tail, as they all set off in pursuit of Carlos Huertas (Carlin), another to have lost out at the start. The Colombian was ideally placed for a podium position but somehow managed to be 7th by the first corner, and bottled up behind William Buller (Fortec Motorsport). This was not how his afternoon was supposed to be going. They all settled in to run in steady formation after that and despite their best efforts that was pretty much how it would remain all the way to the flag. For any excitement you had to look a little further back, where Harry Tincknell (Fortec Motorsport), Pipo Derani (Double R Racing) and Adderly Fong (Sino Vision Racing) were scrapping for breathing space and failing to find it, Derani coming out on top of that particular tussle.
Magnussen meanwhile continued to motor away into the distance, leaving Pye to ponder what might have been if he’d only had that bit more downforce at the start when he needed it. However, he now needed to concentrate on keeping as much distance as possible between himself and Nasr who was beginning to loom large (and very yellow) in his mirrors. Pye’s response to the champion putting the pressure on was to increase the pace himself and it wasn’t long before he had re-established the gap between them, Nasr seemingly realising that even if he could catch the Australian, he was unlikely to be able to get past. There didn’t seem to be any point in pushing the matter.
And then the warnings started. Initially it was Fahmi Ilyas (Fortec Motorsport) who was warned for not respecting the track limits, and he was soon joined by Buller, who probably had more cause to run wide as he tried to keep Huertas, Alexander Sims (Motorpark), Fantin, and Harvey at bay, the latter having shaken Evans off now. That said, Ilyas was also having an interesting time, as he was swamped by Hywel Lloyd (Sino Vision Racing), and Menasheh Idafar (T-Sport), the pair of them coming through for 12th and 13th respectively, though not before Ilyas indulged in a spot of wheel-banging in an effort to hold the attackers off. Shortly after that Ilyas was awarded a drive through penalty for disrespecting the track limits. The penalty would drop him a long way back and in effect put an end to his race.
At the front now it was getting increasingly processional though, and it was clear that the chances of seeing any overtaking were receding rapidly, so we all enjoyed Jazeman Jaafar’s (Carlin) hunting down of Foresti, the Malaysian eventually getting past for 4th. Once through he set about catching Nasr, but that was a whole other matter, especially as no one wants to take a chance of knocking a team-mate off into the weeds, It doesn’t go down well, after all. There was little in the way of contact further back either, despite the fact that Buller was now at the head of a train, with all five of them running nose to tail. It only needed on mistake and the game would be up for whoever made it. The mistake didn’t come from there though, and in fact it was Evans that ended up off track, losing control on the kerbs and then bouncing across the tarmac and into gravel. It was the end of the youngster’s race and came just after a somewhat prescient warning about track limits for the New Zealander. Yann Cunha (T-Sport) was also warned but he didn’t fall off, and nor did Idafar, who was also in receipt of a warning.
There were no warnings needed for Magnussen, however, as he continued to push for home, running much faster than anyone apart from Jaafar, and even he couldn’t match the Dane’s pace this afternoon. Despite a 1:53.936 he was still not quite as fast Kevin - but then it seemed no one was. There was almost a change of order in the mid field when Buller went very sideways in his efforts to keep the train behind him and nearly lost out altogether, allowing Fantin to take a long, hard look at Sims before thinking better of it. At the head of the formation, Buller’s reactions were up to the task, and he managed to control the situation and hang onto his place. Unlike Fong, the Chinese coming up against Guilherme Silva (Hitech Racing), the Invitation Class runner making short work of him for 17th place. He was followed through not long after, by Max Snegirev (Hitech Racing), the Russian running far better than usual today. Fong tried to fight back but there wasn’t much he could do.
As a reward for his efforts, Fong was the next to get a warning, though it was getting to the point where it was probably easier to say who didn’t get a warning than who did. Tincknell was another one to be told he was being watched, while Idafar was awarded the second drive through of the afternoon. You had to wonder why so many of them were apparently guilty of something they would certainly not want to do, given the risk of penalties ranging from a drive through up to disqualification, and if it’s so easy to do and get away with then perhaps something – other than the drivers’ behaviour – needs to change.
Anyway, a distinctly less than thrilling race eventually trailed off with Magnussen winning comfortably, from Pye, Nasr, Jaafar, Foresti, Buller, Huertas, Sims, Fantin and Harvey. Lloyd finished 11th just outside the points, ahead of Tincknell, Bart Hylkema (T-Sport), Derani, Cunha, Snegirev, Silva, Fong, Idafar and Ilyas. Rookie Class winner Kotaro Sakurai (Hitech Racing) was 21st and last.
Fastest laps went to Magnussen, Silva and Sakurai.
Weather: Cold, cloudy.