Alex Waters, the 19-year old racing driver from Bristol, ended his run in the 2006 British F3 International Series with a fine podium placing at the end of two incredibly hectic races. Once more in action for the Promatecme F3 team, Alex was faced with a steep learning curve on the fast and technically challenging Hampshire track. It didn't help that the weather was changeable in the extreme, so much so that it was hard to know what tyres to opt for at the start of qualifying. A number of drivers ventured out on wet weather rubber only to come back in once the cars were warmed up and swap straight to dry weather slicks. Alex was among the quickest runners in the early stages of qualifying for Round 21, but his lack of experience hampered him more than a little and he ended up 4th in the National Class, ahead of Rodolfo Avila (Performance Racing). The weather was slightly more predictable in the second session of the day, and the battle for Class pole started early this time. This time the rain set it with a third of the session still to run, and no one was able to improve. As a result Alex was again 4th, this time ahead of fellow newcomer Leo Mansell, son of ex-F1 World Champion Nigel.
On Sunday morning, the heavens opened along with the pit lane. As the cars lined up, it stopped raining, and then started again. Eventually, with the rain having eased, and then stopped yet again, it was decided that the race would start behind the Safety Car, and the field would be released once it was safe to do so. It reduced Alex's chances of making up ground, though in those conditions just staying on the track would be an achievement. Even the more experienced runners were having trouble figuring out where the circuit ended and the grass and gravel started, and the result was more than one superstar looking a bit embarrassed by the end. Alex ended up fighting for positions with Oliver Turvey, eventually finishing a difficult race in 4th place to collect some useful points.
Round 22 was even more of a lottery, especially in the National Class. Juho Annala (Performance Racing) was the early leader, until he fell foul of Championship Class man Maro Engel, the Carlin driver spinning out after clashing with the leaders. That handed the lead to Rodolfo Gonzalez (T- Sport). When he suffered a mechanical failure, Alex, who had been rammed up the rear by Avila in the early stages, found himself a somewhat surprised runner up, despite being embroiled for the greater part of the race in a battle with Leo Mansell, and his brother Greg, who was also making his F3 debut. The Mansells were running in the Invitation Class in cars that should have been much quicker than Alex's 2-year old Mugen-Honda powered Dallara, but he was able to finish just behind Leo and a long way ahead of Greg in the end. In addition to his second podium placing in the series, Alex finished the year in 6th place in the championship.
Afterwards, Alex was very upbeat. "It's my 8th race in the category and my 2nd podium. It's been a fantastic experience. It's been a big, big learning curve for me. An opportunity came up that we couldn't refuse so I'm just learning as much as I can for next season when I want to do the National Class and win. I get on really well with the team and they've worked really hard with me. We got on well right from the start and we've got a good working relationship, which is fantastic. We've been working together hard to improve my ability because that's really what it's about at the moment. The car's a known quantity if you like, so it's a case of me improving around the car and team."
Alex will now return to his university studies in Cardiff. In between studying, and maintaining his fitness levels, he will also be working hard to find sponsorship for next season, when he plans to return to the category and establish himself as a man to watch.
Next Race Meeting: April 2007.