By Mark Gledhill - Motorsport.com A total of 34 drivers took part in the final test session before the start of the 2001 British Formula Three championship. The test was held at Silverstone International circuit, the venue for the race this ...
By Mark Gledhill - Motorsport.com
A total of 34 drivers took part in the final test session before the start of the 2001 British Formula Three championship. The test was held at Silverstone International circuit, the venue for the race this weekend, and the local unpredictable weather caused several incidents during the day.
The start of the first session was severely delayed due to a heavy crash during the preceding Formula Ford session that required part of a barrier to be rebuilt. All the drivers were keen to get out on the circuit as soon as possible and when the siren sounded about 30 drivers left their garages all at once, which caused a large traffic jam in the pitlane. The weather during the first session was dry with some damp patches on the track. Most drivers completed runs of 3-4 laps, separated by red flags, and the fastest times were set towards the end of the session. Eventually the American driver Paul Edwards topped the times, closely followed by Michael Keohane, Andre Lotterer and James Courtney.
The cars returned to the track after lunch but the session was immediately stopped due to a car spinning into the gravel. There had been some rain during the break and the track was very slippery. However the times quickly fell and within four laps Takuma Sato had broken the 1m 20s barrier. He went on set the fastest time during the session and teammate Anthony Davidson finished third. The Jaguars of Lotterer and Courtney finished 7th and 14th and they were never quite able to keep up with Sato's pace. Rain started to fall heavily in the last part of the session and very few cars ventured out on to the circuit. Several cars spun, including Stuart King who parked the car in the gravel at Abbey.
The rain continued and the final Formula Ford session was cut short because of the treacherous conditions. The Formula Three drivers were let out for their final session and most of the drivers set a time, although most only completed between two and four laps. Fastest was Nicholas Kiesa, now driving for the Prost Junior team, followed by Andy Priaulx and Andre Lotterer.
All of the top three teams (Manor, Jaguar and Carlin) were careful not to give too much away, but at the same time were keen to show that they did have something to hide. Andre Lotterer's consistent running though all three sessions suggests that he will regularly pick up points. Takuma Sato's pace in the second session showed that the Japanese driver is going to continue his dominant form from last year, particular at Silverstone. And Nicholas Kiesa's speed in the most difficult conditions and willingness to try out pitstops and different tyres during the sessions suggests that he is likely to perform well in wet conditions. The battle for the championship looks set to be one of the closest of recent years.