Eighteen-year-old Felipe Nasr gave early notice of his intentions in the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series today (Tuesday) at Rockingham in the first official test session of the 2011 season. The Brazilian was one of only two drivers in the 18-man field to break the 1m 11s barrier, and his best time was very nearly 1.2 seconds inside last year's Rockingham pole time.
Nasr's patriotic yellow and green Dallara-Volkswagen was one of five Carlin-run cars in the top six today, with Colombian Carlos Huertas next up on 1m 10.994s. Felipe set his time in the third of the five Rockingham sessions; though some drivers, Huertas included, bettered their personal bests in the afternoon tests, none could topple Nasr from the top.
"I am very pleased," said Felipe, whose sole race victory of the 2010 British Formula 3 season came at Rockingham. "It was a good session and a good lap. Everything so far is looking fine for the year."
A number of drivers new to the championship were in action today, the quickest among them talented young Briton Jack Harvey, whose Racing Steps Foundation-backed car was quickest in the first afternoon session. He ended the day fifth quickest overall behind his team-mates Nasr, Huertas, Rupert Svendsen-Cook and Jazeman Jaafar.
Riki Christodoulou, a championship regular in 2009, was in test action for the Hitech team and placed eighth overall despite his year away from F3, a couple of tenths shy of the best his Hitech team-mate Pietro Fantin achieved. The leading Mercedes-engined runner was Fortec's Lucas Foresti, who posted ninth-quickest time.
The sole Rookie class competitor, Dutchman Bart Hylkema, posted 17th best in his Mugen Honda-powered T-Sport Dallara.
There's further testing at Rockingham tomorrow (Wednesday) ahead of next week's Silverstone sessions. The opening rounds of the championship are set for the Italian Grand Prix track of Monza in mid-April.
Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series Official testing, Rockingham / 1 March 2011
Leading runners am / pm
1 Felipe NASR / BRA, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 1m 10.953s / 1m 11.131s 2 Carlos HUERTAS / COL, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 1m 11.128s / 1m 10.994s 3 Rupert SVENDSEN-COOK / GBR, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 1m 11.147s / 1m 11.110s 4 Jazeman JAAFAR / MAS, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 1m 12.731s / 1m 11.121s 5 Jack HARVEY / GBR, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 1m 11.861s / 1m 11.358s 6 Pietro FANTIN / BRA, Hitech Dallara-Volkswagen 1m 11.772s / 1m 11.370s 7 Kevin MAGNUSSEN / DEN, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 1m 11.628s / 1m 11.528s 8 Riki CHRISTODOULOU / GBR, Hitech Dallara-Volkswagen 1m 12.792s / 1m 11.530s 9 Lucas FORESTI / BRA, Fortec Dallara-Mercedes 1m 11.584s / 1m 12.084s 10 Menasheh IDAFAR / GBR, T-Sport Dallara-Volkswagen 1m 13.967s / 1m 11.826s etc