With the opening rounds of the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series just over a week away at Oulton Park, Carlin team-mates Jazeman Jaafar, Jack Harvey and Harry Tincknell scored an important psychological victory today in the final pre-season test day.
Malaysian Jaafar set the best time of the morning session and the day as a whole, closely pursued by top Brit Harry Tincknell, with Jack Harvey just pipping Tincknell and Alex Lynn for honours in the generally slightly slower afternoon session.
The Cheshire circuit will be the venue on Easter Saturday (7 April) for what promise to be three action-filled races to get this year’s championship underway.
British Formula 3’s reputation as the ‘university of motorsport’ was enhanced last weekend at the Malaysian Grand Prix, where the 2007 British F3 National Champion, Sergio Perez, raced impressively to second place in his Sauber and 2010 British F3 Champion Jean-Eric Vergne claimed his maiden World Championship points in only his second race for Toro Rosso.
“A couple of years ago Sergio, Jean-Eric and our ’09 Champion Daniel Ricciardo were demonstrating their potential in British F3 at Oulton Park in front of the Easter crowds,” said Lisa Crampton, general manager of championship promoter SRO, “and now they are in Formula 1 and impressing the world. It’s clear that many of this year’s F3 field have the talent to follow their example.”
There are three young Britons in the field this season - Lincolnshire-based Harvey and Devonian Tincknell, both with champion team Carlin and both embarking on their second years in British F3; and Essex youngster Lynn, freshly arrived in F3 with the Fortec team after winning the 2011 Formula Renault UK title.
Today the three Englishmen had to give best to Jaafar, whose 1m 28.451s lap of the 2.7-mile Oulton Park International circuit was a quarter of a second ahead of the rest and just inside the official lap record. Tincknell ran Jaafar closest in the morning, with Harvey third from Carlos Sainz and Pietro Fantin.
Fantin severely damaged the rear end of his Volkswagen-powered Dallara after clouting the Old Hall crash barriers following a spin, and missed much of the morning session. It was Sainz’s turn to go off in the afternoon, the Spaniard able to complete only 10 laps as a result.
In the afternoon Harvey posted a best of 1m 28.945s, a tenth slower than he achieved in the morning, to top the session. “My fastest time of the afternoon was on old tyres,” he said. “I could have gone quicker on my new tyres, but I made a mistake.” Harvey was just six-thousandths clear of Tincknell, with Fortec driver Lynn third, only 0.036s behind.
“This morning’s session was definitely quicker than this afternoon’s,” said Alex, “but we were not concentrating on setting quick times at that stage and were concentrating on completing our test programme. This afternoon we went for it, and by the end there was nothing in it at all, so we’re very happy with where we are and confident for the race next week.”
Saturday admission tickets to see the three Oulton Park British Formula 3 races are £16 on the gate or £13 in advance from oultonpark.co.uk
Children under 13 go free.