SIMS AND CALADO ARE THE SILVERSTONE VICTORS A brace of superbly exciting races - one wet, one dry - on the new Silverstone Arena Grand Prix circuit today (Sunday) brought Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series victories for...
SIMS AND CALADO ARE THE SILVERSTONE VICTORS
A brace of superbly exciting races - one wet, one dry - on the new Silverstone Arena Grand Prix circuit today (Sunday) brought Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series victories for impressive young British drivers Alexander Sims and James Calado. It was Calado's second win of the weekend, coming on top of his Saturday fourth-round triumph. The championship leader, Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne, bagged a haul of points to maintain his advantage as the series heads towards his home country.
In the day's very damp first race Sims earned himself official rainmaster status, the Englishman storming from 11th on the grid to win by an eight-second margin at the wheel of his ART Grand Prix-prepared Dallara. Brazilian driver Gabriel Dias finished second after starting from the pole; the Hitech Racing man had to cede the lead to Sims mid-race.
It was by any standards a bravura performance from 22-year-old Sims, who struggled in qualifying and Saturday's dry first race to come to grips with the new track and the experience of running on Cooper tyres for the first time. But the rain levelled the playing field and Sims rocketed past six cars on the opening lap and another three next time around to latch on to the tail of Dias.
Alexander pounced for the lead on lap five, driving around Gabriel's outside at Copse only to make an error a couple of corners later which handed top spot back to Dias. Sims recovered his composure to repass conclusively at Vale before the lap's end. His victory was the first this season for a Mercedes-powered car, and Alexander was the fourth different driver to claim a win in five races. For good measure he set the fastest lap by an almost one-second margin.
"The conditions were perfect for us," said the MSA Team UK driver. "It was a big ask to come here and get on the pace with everyone in just two 30-minute test sessions, but this morning it was a level playing field for everyone and I had the perfect opportunity to take advantage. Maybe the others were a little more apprehensive of the conditions or perhaps their cars were not set up quite as well as mine. I was able to drive with a big smile on my face."
Because Sims entry was in the Invitation class, Dias takes the maximum 10 points: "Our aim here was to make points, and we made the most we could so I am pleased. Sims was just too quick for me," said Gabriel.
As he did in round four, Raikkonen Robertson racer Daisuke Nakajima made a great start to romp up the order. From sixth on the grid on the opening lap he muscled past Vergne, his team-mate Carlos Huertas, Jazeman Jaafar and, around the outside at Brooklands, the car of Esteban Gutierrez to slot into second. Nakajima had no answer to Sims's pace, however, and had to settle for third on the road. Gutierrez tried race long to displace Nakajima from third but the Mexican ART man was unable to achieve the feat.
Vergne spent much of his race squabbling with his Carlin team-mates Jaafar and Calado. Calado held fifth before spinning and handing the position to Vergne, with Adriano Buzaid pushing Jaafar back to seventh four laps from the end. Huertas claimed eighth, ahead of Calado and Felipe Nasr, the Brazilian claiming his first championship points with a good drive from the very back of the grid following his Saturday startline shunt.
Alex Brundle and Daniel McKenzie sandwiched the third ART Grand Prix driver, Frenchman Jim Pla, for 11th and 13th and the last of the championship points.
Menasheh Idafar, who failed to make the start of round four after colliding with the back of Nasr's car - a misdemeanour which earned the T-Sport driver a £1000 fine - went a little way towards making up for his disappointment by claiming National class victory ahead of class points leader James Cole and Luiz Razia.
Calado got his Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series season even further back on track at Silverstone this afternoon, leading round six of the championship from pole position to chequered flag. It was the Worcestershire driver's second win of the weekend and promotes him to third overall in the championship standings.
This win for the Carlin man was more impressive than his Saturday triumph, for he coped brilliantly with a three-lap safety car period and ensuing restart, and once again had to fend off a determined challenge from the relentless Oli Webb, who shadowed him all the way to the flag.
Calado had made another impeccable start to lead Will Buller by a couple of seconds in the early stages. Webb slotted past for second on the third lap and then the safety car had to be brought into play while a stricken car was removed from a dangerous spot. After the restart Oli closed on the leader enough to mount a series of attacks, but James had an answer for every one of them.
Said Calado: "It was a very, very tough race. Oli drove brilliantly. I just can't seem to get away from this guy; he's fast. I kept it together, tried to drive neatly to conserve the tyres, but I also had to fight Oli. We were side by side a few times. It was a fantastic race and I'm really, really pleased."
For Webb it was his fourth runner-up finish in six races: "It's not a bad start to my year," said the Cheshire driver. "The car felt good; the long races seem to suit us. It was a good fight with James and I'm sure it was great for everyone to watch, but unfortunately I couldn't quite find a way past."
The battle for third was a highlight of the race. It looked to be in the bag for Nakajima after the Japanese driver snatched it away from Buller on lap three, but the final podium place fell into the hands of his Raikkonen Robertson team-mate Felipe Nasr two laps from home when Nakajima started to slow with the beginnings of a probable driveshaft problem. Daisuke slipped to sixth before stopping on the final tour, but his excellent showing in all three of the weekend's races was enough to earn him the Sunoco Driver of the Weekend award.
Following his wet-race win in round five, Alexander Sims had a much bigger battle on his hands in this event but was more than equal to the task and charged from 14th on the grid to fourth at the flag, ahead of Adriano Buzaid and Vergne.
Jazeman Jaafar, Gabriel Dias, Esteban Gutierrez and Buller completed the top 10, with Rupert Svendsen-Cook and Lucas Foresti the final points scorers in 11th and 12th.
Idafar led the National Class until a fourth-lap clash with the car of Rio Haryanto, who retired to the pits. Idafar regained the track and closed down the sister T-Sport car of James Cole, but was unable to prevent the Liverpudlian from claiming another class victory.