This afternoon at Croft Brendon Hartley became the 3rd driver to take pole in 4 races in this year's British F3 International Series, after the session was red-flagged twice and ended almost 7 minutes prematurely. Marcus Ericsson (Fortec...
This afternoon at Croft Brendon Hartley became the 3rd driver to take pole in 4 races in this year's British F3 International Series, after the session was red-flagged twice and ended almost 7 minutes prematurely. Marcus Ericsson (Fortec Motorsport) was 2nd this time, and Sergio Perez (T- Sport) was 3rd, in the faster of the two Mugen-Honda powered International Class cars. Almost inevitably, it seems, Andrew Meyrick (Carlin Motorsport) was on National Class pole when the session was curtailed.
With the wind gusting at 17mph on parts of the circuit, the session was potentially going to be quite a lot slower than the morning's qualifying run. Add to that warmer temperatures and the fact that the times stayed in the 1:13 range for the greater part of the session came as no great surprise to anyone. Atte Mustonen (Double R Racing) got off to a good start after his rather less then stellar performance in qualifying for round 3. His team-mate, Henry Arundel, was just behind him, which may well have been what the Englishman considered the safest place after he'd been nudged off by the Finn after a misunderstanding in the first session - Mustonen thought Arundel was letting him through - he wasn't. Apparently "Henry's taken it very well." With Atte, of course, it can be hard to tell. Arundel then went faster, only to see Ericsson jump to pole, the teenager proving as adept here as he did at Oulton; he may well be a star in the making, though it's a little early to tell yet. Meyrick was again dominating the National Class and was up in 2nd overall again. He didn't get to keep it - John Martin (Double R Racing) had other ideas and was soon occupying that second slot himself. The changes inevitably kept on coming, and the next to show his hand was Jaime Alguersuari (Carlin Motorsport), the Spaniard now shooting up the order. Martin was still hanging in there, and Nick Tandy (John Tandy Racing) joined in as well, showing the Aussie back to 4th. Ericsson was dislodged from the front row when Meyrick dug a little deeper and bundled him back out of the way again. And then it went relatively quiet.
At the halfway point Alguersuari was still on pole, with Meyrick still 2nd (and of course leading the National Class by a very long way). Ericsson was 3rd from Tandy, Arundel, Martin, Philip Major (Fortec Motorsport), Mustonen and Sam Abay (Carlin Motorsport). 11th was Alistair Jackson (Double R Racing), Salman Al Khalifa (T-Sport), Hartley and Viktor Jensen (Nexa Racing). And then things improved for Abay, the Australian grabbing pole. Hartley shot up to 3rd and Alguersuari was 2nd, at least before Ericsson edged his way back to 2nd. Times were still coming down but that wind was definitely affecting the times, and was clearly slowing things down considerably.
The Carlin theme developed even further when Turvey claimed 5th making it 4 out of 5 in the top 5 for the team. That was soon overturned when Esteban Guerrieri (Ultimate Motorsport) improved, moving his version of the newly liveried cars to 3rd. A further change came when Martin again went faster to slot into 6th. At the front, Abay was still hanging on by 0.055 seconds, but then he lost out to Hartley. Things were still shifting - Sebastian Hohenthal (Fortec Motorsport) was now on the move as well, getting up to 8th. He needed to do something to try and get on terms with his team-mate, Ericsson squeezing through to go 2nd once again. As Jackson claimed 8th, Hohenthal improved to 4th while Perez was 3rd. You probably don't need to be told that Meyrick was still leading the National Class, though not by quite such a big margin as he had at the start of the session.
As the clock ticked down, Mustonen improved to 6th, and a lap later was 5th, just behind Abay - but then Turvey improved and the Finn lost a place. And then Niall Quinn (Team Loctite) got it all wrong round the back of the circuit and ended up stranded. The red flags inevitably came out. With just under 10 minutes to go, the order was Hartley, from Ericsson, Perez, Turvey, Abay, Mustonen, Hohenthal, Guerrieri, Alguersuari and Jackson. Martin was 11th, from Meyrick, Tandy, Max Chilton (Hitech Racing), Arundel, Major, Al Khalifa, Stefan Wilson (Fluid Motorsport), Hywel Lloyd (CF Racing) and Ricardo Teixeira (Ultimate Motorsport). Jensen, Jay Bridger (Fluid Motorsport), Steven Guerrero (T-Sport), Walter Grubmüller (Hitech Motorsport), Kristjan Einar (Carlin Motorsport), Oliver Oakes (Eurotek), Quinn, Craig Reiff (Nexa Racing) and Michael Devaney (Ultimate Motorsport), the latter having spent most of the session in the garage having suspension repairs after managing just one lap.
Quinn was duly cleared away and eventually - after a traffic jam in the pitlane caused by Arundel stalling which led to some interesting gestures from Jackson, and a whole load of people not staying where they were supposed to while they waited for the restart - it all kicked off again.only to grind to a halt again after Perez got on the gravel at the Chicane and ended up sideways across the track, stalled. That caused a fresh outbreak of red flags less than three minutes after the restart. With 6 minutes 47 seconds still on the session clock, the official decided to show the chequered flag, thus bringing the session to a premature end and ensuring they spent a great deal of the rest of the afternoon arguing the case with a bunch of incensed team managers.
The order, needless to say, didn't change at all.
Weather: Windy, cloudy, cool.