This afternoon at Snetterton saw Brendon Hartley (Carlin Motorsport) claim another pole position in the British F3 International series after a tense session that saw conditions improve and thus turned it into something of a game of last man ...
This afternoon at Snetterton saw Brendon Hartley (Carlin Motorsport) claim another pole position in the British F3 International series after a tense session that saw conditions improve and thus turned it into something of a game of last man standing. In the closing seconds Sebastian Hohenthal (Fortec Motorsport) snatched 2nd and Sergio Perez (T-Sport) slotted into 3rd. In the National Class, Stefan Wilson (Fluid Motorsport) took his first ever pole, ahead of team-mate Jay Bridger, the two of them having worked together to set a good time in this session. Salman Al Khalifa (T-Sport) was 3rd in the class, though quite a bit further back in the overall order.
Walter Grubmuller (Hitech Racing) was quick out of the gate, clearly intending to try and get some space to set a fast lap. The only problem with that was that on a track as short as this, there were still cars emerging from the pit lane when he started his first flying lap. Any advantage he might have had evaporated at that point. Andy Meyrick (Carlin Motorsport) was temporarily at the top of the times as well as the National Class, but he was dropped almost immediately by Atte Mustonen (Double R Racing). Marcus Ericsson (Fortec Motorsport) was the first driver to get into the 1.13s, but then Perez went faster. He was displaced by Nick Tandy (John Tandy Racing). Meanwhile, Al Khalifa grabbed the National Class pole temporarily. As the track improved, the times just kept coming down.
It was Tandy who took it into the 1.12s, with Sam Abay (Carlin Motorsport) going 2nd but staying in the 1.13s. There was still quite a lot of spray around, even with a drier line starting to appear. It helped Hohenthal, who was the next to improve, the Swede moving onto the front row, at least for the time being. In the National Class it was all change yet again, with Steven Guerrero (T-Sport) the latest provisional pole man in 10th overall. A lap later and Perez was back to 2nd, while Oliver Turvey (Carlin Motorsport) was 6th and Meyrick reclaimed the National Class lead. Just as things were beginning to hot up, and Ericsson shot up the order to 2nd, those pesky red flags were out again. Callum Macleod (Litespeed F3) had ground to a halt out at Russell and needed rescuing.
The order at this point was Tandy, from Ericsson, Hohenthal, Perez, Abay, Mick Devaney (Ultimate Motorsport), Turvey, Philip Major (Fortec Motorsport), Hartley and Jaime Alguersuari (Carlin Motorsport). 11th now was Mustonen, from Meyrick, Grubmuller, John Martin (Double R Racing), Guerrero, Ricardo Teixeira (Ultimate Motorsport), Max Chilton (Hitech Racing), Henry Arundel (Double R Racing), Bridger and Wilson. Kristjan Einar (Carlin Motorsport) was in 21st, leading Jordan Williams (Team Loctite), Al Khalifa, Alistair Jackson (Double R Racing), Hywel Lloyd (CF Motorsport), Viktor Jensen (Nexa Racing) and the incapacitated Macleod.
At the restart there was around twenty minutes of the session left. This time Abay took advantage of getting out ahead of the pack and claimed 2nd, while Bridger went to National Class pole, while Wilson was 3rd in class, bracketing Meyrick. At the front end, Mustonen was now 5th, while Tandy was apparently showing off by going ever faster. However, the others hadn't given up as was demonstrated by Hartley moving to 5th, while Alguersuari was 7th. With conditions getting better and better, it looked as if the best time could well come from the last man to cross the start/finish line at the end of the session. Certainly Hartley wasn't done yet, the New Zealander now digging deep to find enough of an improvement to claim pole position, while in the National Class Williams was now 3rd, an impressive performance from a youngster who first drove an F3 car yesterday.
A further round of changes came when Bridger improved to go 7th overall, just behind Devaney who was on something of a charge. Mustonen was also showing signs of life, with 3rd - though he didn't get to hold it for long before Abay took it off him. A lap later and Mustonen lost out to Devaney, and then to Perez. The Finn wasn't too happy at this stage. A sudden squall meant that the track suddenly got wetter and caught a number of people out though it didn't immediately become apparent. Meyrick was plummeting down the order and was 5th in class now, but in the International Class Mustonen was back on pole. It went temporarily quiet, but then Alguersuari leapt to 5th from a long way back. Chilton improved to 13th, while Wilson was right behind Bridger for National Class pole. And then Tandy went off at the Bomb Hole, displacing chunks of the tyre wall onto the racing line, while Al Khalifa was off at Riches in the sugar beet. Someone always goes off and investigates the crops there - this time it was the Bahraini. That was the signal for another red flag stoppage.
This time the order was Mustonen, from Hartley, Tandy, Abay, Alguersuari, Devaney, Hohenthal, Perez, Ericsson and National Class leader Bridger. 11th was Wilson, from Turvey, Chilton, Al Khalifa, Martin, Grubmuller, Teixeira, Major, Jackson and Williams. Unexpectedly 21st was Meyrick, heading up Einar, Arundel, Guerrero, Jensen, Lloyd and Macleod.
The restart would be for just 8 minutes, despite the screen originally saying 10 minutes 25 seconds. The track was drying and so it was still all to play for. The first improvement came from Turvey, who went faster but stayed 11th. Meanwhile, the Scandinavians were trading places near the front, Ericsson going 3rd only to be edged out by Hohenthal, while series leader Perez claimed 6th. Hartley was the next to show, getting into the 1.11s and thus onto pole. Grubmuller improved to 10th which became 11th when Turvey improved to 9th. Hohenthal was still on the move and was soon 2nd, while Alguersuari claimed 4th only to lose it to Turvey. All of this dropped Tandy to 7th, and a further series of improvements edged him even further down. Perez went 4th, while Devaney grabbed 3rd with less than two minutes left. A late charge from Wilson saw the youngster snatch the National Class pole, while Chilton improved to 11th. A serious case of waved yellow flags (though it should probably have been red-flagged) was prompted by a major off at Riches involving Meyrick, Einar, and Guerrero. Just ahead of it Ericsson bounced into 8th, while Perez snatched 3rd and then the yellow flags stopped anyone else from improving significantly. Having said that, Grubmuller did improve to 12th, though only by pushing Wilson down a place in the overall order. At he same time, Alguersuari grabbed 6th at the very last moment.
That left Hartley on pole from Hohenthal, Perez, Devaney, Mustonen, Alguersuari, Turvey, Ericsson, Tandy and Abay. Chilton headed Grubmuller for 11th, from National Class pole man Wilson, Bridger, Arundel, Teixeira, Major, Jensen, Martin and Al Khalifa. 21st was Guerrero, ahead of Jackson, Williams, Meyrick, Einar, Lloyd and Macleod.
Weather: Damp, cold, intermittent showers.