At Silverstone today for the second meeting of the British F3 International Series, Max Chilton (Carlin Motorsport) made it look easy, scoring his second pole position of the year, helped this time by the fact that his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo...
At Silverstone today for the second meeting of the British F3 International Series, Max Chilton (Carlin Motorsport) made it look easy, scoring his second pole position of the year, helped this time by the fact that his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo (Carlin Motorsport) had made an early exit, spinning out and Copse and spending most of the session as a frustrated observer. Van der Zande, to no one's especial surprise, was 2nd from Adriano Buzaid (T-Sport), "Buzzy" putting in a determined effort in the closing stages to snatch 3rd. The National Class pole went to fellow-T- Sport driver Gabriel Dias, ahead of championship points leader Daniel McKenzie (Fortec Motorsport), the pair of them pushing some of the International Class runners harder than might have been expected.
The morning started quietly, with no one seemingly keen to get out there. Given the 9am start, that's only to be expected. The drift onto the track was gradual at best, only Stephane Richelmi (Barazi Epsilon) and Carlos Huertas (Raikkonen Robertson Racing) bothering to begin with. They were eventually joined by Hywel Lloyd (C F Racing) and Victor Correa (Litespeed F3), with Lloyd and Huertas swapping times for a while. There was no sign of life at Carlin though, last year's champions choosing to keep their powder dry and not coming out to play until a good ten minutes at elapsed. As they wandered out, Nick Tandy (JTR) also joined in, while Huertas continued to dominate proceedings, now holding off Daisuke Nakajima (Raikkonen Robertson Racing) for provisional pole. Nakajima rose to the challenge and promptly got ahead of the Colombian, his time far faster than anything set in Friday's testing. This was no surprise; it was far cooler than it had been at 10.30 on Friday (or even 15:45) so the engines and tyres were all happier. The result of the double R battle was that Wayne Boyd (T-Sport) and Lloyd were now 3rd and 4th, swapping places from lap to lap. Just to show that the session really hadn't taken off yet, though, Dias moved into the lead of the National Class by going 4th overall. However, almost everyone was now out on track, with the exception of Buzaid, who was waiting for the others to clean the track before he even thought about heading out of the pits.
Meanwhile, on track, Walter Grubmuller (Hitech Racing) was fastest in the first sector, though he didn't quite string the rest of the lap together, ending up 6th. A lap later and everything fell into place to move him to 2nd ahead of Nakajima. He was almost immediately deposed by Riki Christodoulou (Fortec Motorsport), the man with too many vowels claiming 2nd next time round. Further down, Chilton and Oliver Oakes (Carlin Motorsport) had emerged from the pits and were 6th and 7th respectively, though many eyes were on van der Zander, who was on the pace almost immediately. With Ricciardo being the other man to watch, it was almost possible to overlook the fact that Chilton had just gone to pole as Ricciardo started his fastest lap so far. The signs were good in the sector times, but then the Australian made a mess of his braking at Copse, got a wheel on the grass, and ended up a passenger, finishing the ride up against the tyre wall a long way off the track. Nothing was damaged except his pride, but it would make his morning difficult on Sunday.
With waved yellows all over Copse, everyone duly slowed down and thus Tandy lost out on a chance to improve, though the Mygale seems oddly unsuited to the Silverstone GP circuit. The gamble of leaving it late to go out wasn't paying off either; by the time he got the opportunity to push on, his tyres would be past their best and he would be left trailing a long way back.
Meanwhile, an improvement from Nakajima saw the Japanese move into 2nd just ahead of Christodoulou and Grubmuller, while Tandy went 15th on his first timed lap. With the yellow flag situation finally resolved, van der Zande proved he and Hitech were paying attention when he went fastest in the first section. However, there didn't seem to be much anyone could do about Chilton now, as Nakajima and Christodoulou were finding. A little further back Henry Arundel (Carlin Motorsport) was now 6th and while he was looking better than last year, he didn't look likely to challenge the leaders today.
It wasn't long before Nakajima seemed to decide the same thing, pulling into the pits and getting out of the car. Van der Zande, on the other hand, was doing no such thing, and was still charging to claim 2nd. Buzaid had finally hit his stride too and was 6th on his first timed lap. Chilton was not sufficiently confident that he was about to back off and the youngster was trying very hard to speed up and give himself more of a cushion over the others, but it wasn't quite happening for him, no matter how hard he tried. With van der Zande still pressing on and Buzaid now 3rd he didn't dare relax. He wasn't the only one, as Dias was only just ahead of McKenzie now, with the narrowest of margins separating the two of them.
Tandy, on the other hand, was off the pace altogether and was a miserable looking 16th. However, there didn't seem to be any more pace to be had. A hard earned improvement moved him up to 15th, but that was hardly anything to shout about. And that was the last change in the session, despite there being a good 8 minutes left. Buzaid got a good 2nd sector time but the other parts of the lap were nothing special so he didn't improve, and by then almost everyone was back in the pits apart from Christodoulou and Grubmuller. It was pretty much game over.
And so Chilton claimed his second pole of the season, just ahead of danger man van der Zande, and Buzaid. Nakajima ended the morning 4th from Christodoulou, Grubmuller, Arundel, Oakes, Huertas and Boyd. Ricciardo was a disappointed 11th from Victor Garcia (Fortec Motorsport), National Class poleman Dias, McKenzie, Tandy, Lloyd, Correa, Richelmi and Max Snegirev (Team West-Tec).
Weather: Fine, sunny.
Dutchman Renger van der Zande is occupying the second of the Hitech Racing cars, at least for this race, since the only other activity he has scheduled so far for this year is a three-drive race in the Porsche Super Cup. He should be quick from the off given his experience levels.