Zheng doubles-up to finish on a high in National Class
The 2013 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series came to an end this morning, and it was Carlin's newly crowned Champion Jordan King that took an accomplished lights-to-flag victory in front of a busy German crowd at the legendary Nurburgring Circuit in Germany. In a smiliar vein to the way King was victorious, National Class Champion, Sun Zheng crossed the line first to take a second class win this weekend.
Jordan King put in a faultless performance in perfect conditions at the 3.1 mile Nurburgring Circuit, the Warwickshire-based racer got a great start from pole-position as a low lying sun shone down on the Eiffel Mountains. After the excitement of yesterday's second race, where King's fifth place finish was enough to secure the 2013 British F3 title following title rival Will Buller's off, the third race of the weekend and the final race of the year was understandably a more sedate affair.
King was in sensational form and despite an initial challenge from Fortec Motorsport's Buller, the Carlin driver extended his lead to keep Buller a second behind him, rising to 1.398s at the flag where he claimed his fourth win of the year. After Saturday's disappointment Buller collected himself well and put in a drive that on any other day would've seen him stand on the top step of the podium. However, King was too strong today and despite the Northern Irishman finishing ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi, Double R's Italian racer pipped him to second in the final standings by just one point.
Had Buller taken the fastest lap of the race, an honour which fell to King (1:50.273), he would've tied on points with the Italian and taken the runner-up spot on account of his better record of second place finishes; the pair tied on wins a pair apiece. However, it wasn't to be and the Fortec man now focuses on his other single-seater activities for the remainder of the season.
Canadian racer Nicholas Latifi had the pace to match Giovinazzi, but couldn't find a way past the Italian and the 17 year-old Carlin driver took fourth at the flag, disappointed to miss out on a podium, but fifth in the overall points standings. Behind Latifi was one of the stars of the race, Alfonso Celis. The Mexican, making his Formula 3 debut with Fortec this weekend, stayed out of trouble and took fifth place after putting in a defensive driving masterclass to hold row three starters, Jann Mardenborough and Felipe Guimaraes at bay.
Mardenborough and Guimaraes finished sixth and seventh despite clashing on the opening lap. Both the Carlin and Fortec driver spun at the Mercedes-Benz arena and rejoined amongst the National Class runners. Mardenborough, the sole British winner of the Nissan GT Academy competition, was eager to get back on terms with Latifi in fourth and pushed hard to move up the order, this was going to plan until a brief spin at the NGK chicane saw him drop to ninth. Guimaraes used Mardenborough's knack of getting through traffic to good effect and followed the British driver up the order until they got baulked by Celis who defending doggedly to the flag. Guimaraes finished the season fourth, and Mardenborough sixth, 24 points between them.
Yesterday's star driver, Tatiana Calderon had a tricky race on worn tyres. The Colombian was running as high as fifth in the opening laps, but was overrun by team-mate Sean Gelael, Threebond with T-Sport's Spike Goddard and Celis. However, for her weekend long efforts, Calderon was awarded the Mobil Service Centre Master of the Weekend trophy, giving the first female International Class podium finisher a chance to step into the spotlight once again to receive her award.
Mardenborough and Guimaraes did relegate Calderon to ninth briefly, it could've been tenth but for a drive through penalty for Goddard after he had contact with Gelael on lap nine in the first corner, and a subsequent pitstop for Gelael to check his car was still safe to drive. Goddard finished last after taking the penalty, Gelael finished eleventh.
Sun Zheng dominated the final National Class race of the year. Starting on fresh rubber made a difference as rival Chris Vlok struggled for grip on the tyres he used to take his first race win yesterday. Zheng worked heat into his tyres in the early laps, but the aspirational Chinese driver couldn't hold off Mardenborough and Guimaraes as fought back from their turn one spill. The CF Racing driver pushed on and unsurprisingly took the fastest lap of the class, a 1:53.56. Vlok did begin to close on the Chinese driver but a spin while applying pressure to his rival cost him dearly and the New Zealander gathered himself and once again finished comfortably ahead of his inexperienced West-Tec team-mate William Barbosa.
Positive news on the 2014 British Formula 3 International Series will follow early next week. In the meantime please check the Official Series website for interviews from the title winners.
Jordan King, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen (Race 3 Winner and Champion):
"My race couldn't have been much better. My start was pretty much perfect, I didn't lock a wheel, really consistent on the lap times, and it wasn't until the last three laps that I started to lose grip, so the car was pretty much perfect. It was the best I've driven all year and a brilliant race."
Will Buller, Fortec Motorsports Dallara-Mercedes (Race 3 2nd place):
"Jordan was really strong, we both had good starts and we were doing the same kind of lap times and that was it really. There was nothing really in it between us, but he's the Champion and we move on."
Antonio Giovinazzi, Double R Racing Dallara-Mercedes (Race 3 3rd place - Championship runner-up):
"The start was good, Jordan was fantastic and Buller was very fast too. I sat behind them and had to keep an eye on Latifi; it was a good race. I'm very happy to finish the series second, it means a lot to be here in British F3."
Sun Zheng, CF Racing Dallara-NBE Mugen-Honda (National Class Winner and Champion):
"I had an okay start, there was chaos with cars spinning and everyone tried to avoid them. Some people were on the grass and the two spinners came back through the field very quickly, my tyres were cold and I couldn't stop them. After that I just got my tyres warm and tried to chase them. It was a good end to a good season."