BF3

Silverstone qualifying and race report

Autosport British F3 Championship 1998 Round 7, Silverstone, May 16 by Stella Maria Thomas Changes: MDR have reverted to Mugen Honda engines after being disappointed in the performance of the Renault customer unit. Jamie Spence is...

Autosport British F3 Championship 1998 Round 7, Silverstone, May 16 by Stella Maria Thomas

Changes:

MDR have reverted to Mugen Honda engines after being disappointed in the performance of the Renault customer unit. Jamie Spence is therefore now in a Dallara F398 Mugen Honda.

Narain Karthikeyan is again a non-starter. This is rumoured to be due to engine problems.

Practice:

After a chaotic race at Oulton last time out, the F3 boys and girls seemed to have calmed down a little, Perhaps the reason they were on their best behaviour was the presence of the F3000 teams at Silverstone. After all, a large number of this year's crop will be hoping to be in 3000 next year, and were therefore keen to impress. Of course, Enrique Bernoldi was again the cream of the crop, but this is to be expected at present. His confidence levels are high, he is now in the habit of winning, and the team are well equipped and not lacking in resources. Confidence at TOM'S was high too, though they are still underfunded and having to work to a very tight budget. Martin O'Connell is still the only man to regularly challenge the Brazilian hotshot and in testing he had put in some very impressive times on a circuit that he really does not like, finding it boring.

When Saturday started out hot and dry, it was clear that the first session, held at 09.00, would be the more important one. F3 engines really don't like extreme heat and the second session was scheduled for just after noon. You either got a flying lap in during the first session or you would have virtually no chance of a good grid slot. That said, there was a slight air of panic about much of the early morning activity. While Bernoldi sailed through to claim provisional pole, with the other three Brazilians (Burti, Haberfeld and Mauricio) taking 3 out of the next four places and Kolby in 3rd acting as the filling in the sandwich, there was trouble at both TOM'S, Intersport and Portman.

O'Connell was wrestling with a car that was fast enough through the quick corners but that seemed to have lost interest in the slow corners. He was 6th on the grid at the close of the first session and clearly unhappy about it. At Intersport, Collins too was floundering. The pre-season favourite in many peoples eyes has been let down by the Opel Spiess power unit more than once and was stuck in an unaccustomed 11th at the end of first practice. Even more remarkable, Yoong was a long way ahead of team-mate Hughes at this stage, Warren spending much of the session in the pits with the engineers working frantically to try and solve his problems. 15th was no place for him.

Perhaps of most note was the performance of Mauricio, who didn't look like the same driver who started the season. For whatever reason (maybe the sunshine made him feel at home), he was mightily impressive, grabbing a provisional 5th place, a marked improvement on previous runs. At the other extreme, Jamie Spence was even further back using a Mugen Honda engine than he had been with the Renault unit in the car, although hopefully this is due to the late arrival of the new engine. He was 14th just ahead of Collins.

The second session was slower for almost everyone. The only notable improvement was from Collins, who jumped himself to 4th on the grid with a typically committed lap. Hughes improved too, moving just inside the top 10, but for O'Connell there was no improvement to speak of and Collins moving up dropped him back to 7th. Spence too dropped a place because of Hughes' move and would start 15th.

Qualifying: 1st No. 5 Enrique Bernoldi, Dallara F398 Renault 1.43.669 2nd No. 1 Luciano Burti, Dallara F398 Mugen Honda 1.43.719 3rd No. 4 Kristian Kolby, Dallara F398 Mugen Honda 1.43.755 4th No. 27 Ben Collins, Dallara F398 Opel Spiess 1.43.991 5th No. 2 Mario Haberfeld, Dallara F398 Mugen Honda 1.44.020 6th No. 7 Ricardo Mauricio, Dallara F398 Mugen Honda 1.44.062 7th No. 16 Martin O'Connell, Dallara F398 TOMS Toyota 1.44.096 8th No. 22 Alexander Yoong, Dallara F398 Renault 1.44.407 9th No. 6 Marc Hynes, Dallara F398 Renault 1.44.420 10th No. 21 Warren Hughes, Dallara F398 Renault 1.44.461 11th No. 8 Yudai Igarashi, Dallara F398 Mugen Honda 1.44.497 12th No. 18 David Cook, Dallara F398 Opel Spiess 1.44.542 13th No. 11 Miku Santavirta, Dallara F398 Mugen Honda 1.44.705 14th No. 19 Paula Cook, Dallara F398 Opel Spiess 1.44.752 15th No. 14 Jamie Spence, Dallara F398 Mugen Honda 1.44.775 16th No. 42 Adam Wilcox, TOM'S 037F TOM'S Toyota 1.45.229 17th No. 3 Andrej Pavicevic, Dallara F398 Mugen Honda 1.45.252 18th No. 9 Michael Bentwood, Dallara F398 Mugen Honda 1.45.412 19th No. 20 Tim Spouge, Dallara F398 Mugen Honda 1.45.416 20th No. 52 Phillip Scifleet, Dallara F396 TOM'S Toyota (National Pole) 1.45.745 21st No. 51 Warren Carway, Dallara F396 TOM'S Toyota 1.46.937 22nd No. 10 John Ingram, Dallara F398 Mugen Honda 1.47.965

Race:

There was trouble at the start as Collins stalled his Opel Spiess for the 3rd time this year, and while Bernoldi made another of his textbook starts, and the PSR boys followed in his wake, everyone else had to try and avoid him. O'Connell started well, his best getaway of the season so far, and claimed not to have noticed Ben wasn't there until he was halfway to Copse corner. After a fraught start everyone missed Collins and the unfortunate young man was pushed into the pit lane and out of harms way. He would start three laps down in an attempt to get fastest lap but the damage had been done by then.

To continue the damage theme, Michael Bentwood lost a few more friends as the field went into Copse, managing to take out team-mate John Ingram, leaving the Speedsport driver sitting in the gravel. Bentwood managed to continue, perhaps because he didn't dare return to his team until team boss Mike O'Brien had calmed down. He was later to trip up Warren Carway as well, which means there are very few of this year's rookies he hasn't hit at some point or another. It seems fair to question what he is doing out there. In his second year he really should not be crashing this often.

Everyone else settled down and got on with the job of fighting for 2nd place while Bernoldi seemed to be able to extend the gap whenever he wanted to. Silverstone doesn't often produce much in the way of excitement and this was no exception. While Burti and Haberfeld followed their compatriot at a distance, Kolby slotted in behind them, and if you wanted excitement you had to look to Mauricio to provide it. He had been the victim of Collin's stall and came round in 8th at the end of Lap 1. Fired up as a result he set about Hynes, despatching him in a messy but effective manoeuvre two laps later then took off in pursuit of Warren Hughes, pushing so hard that eventually Hughes made a mistake at Brooklands and the tiny Brazilian was through to 6th at half distance. He spent the second half of the race making life very uncomfortable for O'Connell who had to drive defensively for lap after lap in order to keep the ADR driver at bay.

Further back, Paula Cook was fending off Alex Yoong in a battle that was obviously going to end in tears before bedtime for someone. In the end it was Paula who lost it, trying too hard and skittering wide at Copse. As the car crossed the gravel it looked for a moment as if she might get away with it but the Dallara finally bogged down, axle deep in the kitty litter.

In the national class, Phillip Scifleet coasted to victory while Carway was having all sorts of dramas with Bentwood to come in 2nd. Scifleet admits that he is getting rather bored having no opposition at present and is frustrated at his inability to get in touch with the Class A boys but the title will not hurt his chances of finding a full budget for next year.

The championship moves on to Croft in North Yorkshire next weekend and anything could happen. Teams don't test there much and they have only raced on the new circuit once so expect a few surprises. Who knows, perhaps someone can stop Bernoldi or at least slow him down. O'Conell likes the circuit and went well there last year.

Results: 1st Enrique Bernoldi - Time 26:16.170, 15 laps, Speed 109.53 mph 2nd Luciano Burti, F398 Mugen Honda - Gap: 3.116 3rd Mario Haberfeld, F398 Mugen Honda - Gap: 4.350 4th Kristian Kolby, F398 Mugen Honda - Gap: 5.298 5th Martin O'Connell, F398 TOM'S Toyota - Gap: 9.505 6th Ricardo Mauricio, F398 Mugen Honda - Gap: 9.954 7th Warren Hughes, F398 Renault - Gap: 14.291 8th Marc Hynes, F398 Renault - Gap: 15.864 9th Jamie Spence, F398 Renault - Gap: 19.363 10th Miku Santavirta, F398 Mugen Honda - Gap: 20.490 11th Alexander Yoong, F398 Renault - Gap: 21.663 12th Andrej Pavicevic, F398 Mugen Honda - Gap: 28.726 13th David Cook, F398 Opel Spiess - Gap: 29.539 14th Adam Wilcox, F398 Mugen Honda - Gap: 38.469 15th Yudai Igarashi, F398 Mugen Honda - Gap: 41.724 16th Phillip Scifleet, F396 TOMS Toyota - Time 27:01.375, 15 laps, Speed 106.48 mph (National Class winner) 17th Warren Carway, F396 TOMS Toyota - Gap: 1:15.337 18th Michael Bentwood, F398 Mugen Honda - Gap: 1.15.516 19th Ben Collins, F398 Opel Spiess - Gap: 3 laps

DNF: Paula Cook - Lap 8 - Stranded at Copse Tim Spouge - Lap 6 - Retired John Ingram}{\f5 - Lap 1 - Accident with Bentwood

Fastest Laps: Bernoldi - Lap 3, 1.43.873, speed 178.14 kph/110.69 mph Scifleet - Lap 5, 1.46.266, speed 174.113 kph/108.20 mph

Points after 7 rounds: International Class 1st Bernoldi, 119 points 2nd O'Connell, 80 points 3rd Burti, 69 points 4th Haberfeld, 65 points 5th Hughes, 55 points 6th Spence, 36 points 7th Mauricio, 30 points 8th Hynes, 29 points 9th Kolby, 28 points 10th Collins/Yoong, 17 points 12th D Cook, 7 points 13th P Cook, 6 points 14th Igarashi/Pavicevic, 5 points 16th Karthikeyan, 4 points 17th Santavirta, 1 point

National Class 1st Scifleet, 144 points 2nd Carway, 65 points 3rd White, 12 points

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