STUNNING SMITH QUALIFIES FOURTH ON BRITISH F3 DEBUT British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) Rising Star Dean Smith produced a truly stunning performance on his British Formula 3 International Series debut at Donington Park today, Saturday, 11th ...
STUNNING SMITH QUALIFIES FOURTH ON BRITISH F3 DEBUT
British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) Rising Star Dean Smith produced a truly stunning performance on his British Formula 3 International Series debut at Donington Park today, Saturday, 11th October, by qualifying a superb fourth on the grid for his maiden F3 race.
The Wolverhampton based 20-year-old, who is making his first competitive outing at the wheel of a Formula 3 car with Daventry's Fortec Motorsport, ran strongly throughout this morning's round 21 qualifying session and achieved a best lap of 1m 01.734 seconds (114.14mph) -- less than half a second shy of pole position.
With the time seemingly placing Dean a terrific seventh on the grid for his first ever F3 encounter, a handful of drivers were penalised after the session concluded for posting quick times when yellow flags were being waved. Therefore, the West Midlands ace was promoted to fourth position on the timesheets.
Prior to the start of the round 22 qualifying session, light rain fell making tyre choice tricky for the drivers and teams. Initially running with slicks on his Mercedes powered Dallara F308, Dean quickly moved into sixth place and then went to the top of the times with around 10 minutes completed.
Switching to treaded rubber halfway through the session, as most of the drivers did, the 2007 Formula Renault UK Vice-Champion and 2005 Formula BMW UK Champion slipped to ninth overall as he sat in the pits.
When he returned to the track the conditions weren't conducive to faster times on wet weather tyres and so he was unable to better his previous fast lap of 1m 10.359 seconds (100.14mph). Ending the session 10th fastest overall, Dean was still rightly happy with his performance during an ever-changing qualifying run.
Importantly, although having zero experience of treaded F3 rubber Dean had no problems adapting at all and when the track was at its most wet he was the second quickest driver in those conditions.
"The F3 car is obviously different from what I've been used to in Formula Renault but I feel like I'm quick and very consistent too so it's just a matter of time before we're challenging right at the front", said Dean after his maiden British F3 qualifying run.
"I came into this weekend hoping to be as close as possible to (Marcus) Ericsson as he's obviously the most experienced F3 driver in the team. To out-qualify him in session one was fantastic, I feel I did a really good job. The second one was just unfortunate, it was a matter of being in the right place at the right time in the changeable conditions."
Dean added: "Looking ahead to tomorrow, if it's dry for the first race I'm confident we'll have a good result and if it's wet it might be even better for us. I do hope it's wet for the second race as it's quite hard to overtake at Donington in an F3 car."
The Fortec star's first ever Formula 3 race will take place at 11.10 tomorrow morning, Sunday, 12th October, at Donington Park with the second encounter of the weekend getting underway at approximately 16.05.