Weather: windy, clouds/sunny This time around P1 Motorsport seemed reluctant to let either of their cars out, with Ernesto Viso and Adam Carroll both sitting in the pit lane waiting for everyone else to go out and clean the track after a ...
Weather: windy, clouds/sunny
This time around P1 Motorsport seemed reluctant to let either of their cars out, with Ernesto Viso and Adam Carroll both sitting in the pit lane waiting for everyone else to go out and clean the track after a somewhat messy historic race. The Australian contingent - well, half of it anyway - in the shape of Will Davison (Menu Motorsport) and Will Power (Alan Docking Racing) didn't exactly seem to be in a hurry either. The trouble was that the track was now decorated with lots of oil from the very pretty historics, and that's not exactly good for Formula Three cars.
It was left to Clivio Piccione (Carlin Motorsport) to head the charge onto the track. Of course, as he was at the front of the queue, he was the first driver to set a competitive lap time. He was closely followed by Marco Asmer (Hitech Racing), but the Estonian was soon pushed down the order by Nelson A Piquet (Piquet Sports), the Brazilian looking far more convincing than he had in first qualifying. Someone looking a lot worse was Ryan Lewis (T-Sport). His quest for another Scholarship Class pole position came to a gravelly end after he messed up the Chicane on his second run through - the car ended up in the tyre wall and Lewis was an instant spectator. There was a brief outbreak of waved yellows while he was pushed out of the way, and while Ajit Kumar (Mango Racing) got into a tangle at Clarks before trundling back round to the pits - and then all was clear again. Danilo Dirani (Carlin) was the next to get an improvement, moving up to 3rd, while his compatriot Piquet slipped back to 6th. Surely he couldn't have another atrocious session? He has talent in spades, and should be showing better than he had in the morning. His next attempt at a flying lap was wrecked when he encountered Vasilije Calasan (Promatecme F3) who wasn't exactly moving at speed. Piquet wasn't too happy about that. he would have to try again.
And trying was what many drivers were doing, dropping wheels in the dirt, skittering wildly all over the place. It was particularly entertaining at the Chicane, the faster drivers getting airborne off the kerbs. Of course there was a distinct possibility that this would cause trouble later - almost inevitably it did. Karun Chandhok (T-Sport) for one was almost straight-lining it through there, as was Power, who had finally decided he would come out to play.
While the fourth Australian, Barton Mawer (Performance Racing) was in the pits having his tyres swapped over for an attempt at the Scholarship Class pole, Power grabbed the overall pole position. He wasn't the only one on a charge. Viso had also decided it was time to join in and was looking for a second pole to add to his morning's effort. Meanwhile, many drivers were diving into the pits for their tyre swaps (left to right and right to left to counteract uneven wear). James Walker (Hitech) was in, as was Kumar. More significantly, Dirani was in for a tyre swap, as was Power.
Elsewhere, Piquet was on the slide again, and was down in 14th. The improvement he needed just didn't seem to be forthcoming. It was odd because he looked as if he was much more comfortable than he had been. Perhaps it was just a matter of time. The trouble was, there wasn't a lot of that left. Chandhok, on the other hand, was storming round, and was up to 3rd, while Piquet was struggling to make it to 11th. At this point the Brazilian wisely headed for the pits, which meant he missed Kumar setting himself up as an obstacle again. Meanwhile, Marcus Marshall (Fortec) was showing signs of progress, learning all about racing in Britain. He was up to 7th, though there was little chance of him keeping that place for very long. Power was back out on track already, while Alvaro Parente (Carlin Motorsport) was now on pole. Davison, meanwhile, was doing his best to improve on his morning time, and was 9th, which at least got him into the top 10 this time. Viso meanwhile was also struggling after his pole position earlier in the day and was only 7th. Clivio Piccione (Carlin) now moved to 2nd, while Asmer dived into the pits for a tyre change, and Fairuz Fauzy (Menu Motorsport) was showing signs of being fatally attracted to the gravel, spinning at the Chicane. This time he was able to get going again, as was Power who had a brief off-course excursion.
Chandhok was still on the pace too - just as well as we don't want him "grumpy and cynical", something he's very good at. The T-Sport effort is starting to gel now and the Indian driver was up to 2nd. The other Indian in the field, Kumar, chose this moment to have another off, spinning at Duffus. It was a while before he could sort it all out, and several people had to take avoiding action. The way things were going it looked like Piquet would be very close to Kumar on the grid - he had now slumped to 15th, while at the other end of the scale, Walker was an unexpected 6th. This was getting strange. And we were only halfway through the session. Viso was the next to show pace, setting a provisional pole time, only for everyone to have to back off again when Adam Kahn (Alan Docking Racing) managed to revolve through 360 degrees at the bottom of Duffus. He was able to get going again, but again it slowed everyone down temporarily.
Mind you, by the time they all got to the Chicane there was some real attacking driving to be seen. Power was still pushing on and demoted Viso, then promptly went even faster on his next lap. Piquet, meanwhile, had hauled himself up into the top 10, and was hanging on in 9th. He looked ragged, but he also looked fast at long last. Power, meanwhile, was going to take some catching. He was a 10th of a second ahead of anyone, and he'd just pitted for another tyre swap. Davison, meanwhile, was proving our theory that there are four Australians in this series but there's only enough luck for one of them! He was 9th, and not looking likely to get any faster any time soon.
Also not about to get faster anytime soon were the P1 boys, as somehow the team had managed to have Viso and Carroll pit together, which really wasn't the best way they could have organized it.Sometimes you have to wonder how they manage to run two cars at all; they sometimes seem to be running two separate teams - no wonder Carroll's results this season really fail to reflect how talented he really is.
And then the tyres were gone - at least in most cases. Kumar went off again; this time it was third time unlucky, and there were yellows at the start/finish line and at Duffus for the remains of the session. There were yellows further round too shortly afterwards when Andrew Thompson (Hitech) went straight off at the Chicane, and hit the tyre wall, narrowly missing Lewis's abandoned car in the process. And the Marshall went off at the bottom of Duffus on the outside, so that was even more yellows. It was becoming impossible to make much progress, and there was very little time left once the cars were dragged to safety. As soon as it was clear again James Rossiter (Fortec Motorsport) finally showed some pace, grabbing 2nd only to lose it again to Viso. Power was still on pole, but Rossiter made a final effort and took it from him in the closing minutes. Meanwhile, Piquet was pushing so hard the car was wobbling through the Chicane. However, it was enough to move him to 3rd, demoting Lucas di Grassi (Hitech), who had put on a last minute spurt. Needless to say, afterwards Piquet was much happier than he had been in the morning.
And with Calasan having another grassy moment, while Carroll did a triple 360º at the Chicane. He was pushing so hard to make the car go faster that he did it again a lap later before giving up in disgust and retreating to the pits. Another to have a gravelly moment was Chandhok, but he too was able to keep going. And that was it for improvements. Rossiter had pole from Power, Piquet, di Grassi, Chandhok, Viso, Parente, Piccione, Dirani and Davison. Asmer was 11th, ahead of a despondent Carroll, with Marshall in 13th, from Walker, Thompson and Fauzy. Lewis having gone off before he could set a competitive time allowed Barton Mawer (Performance Racing) to claim the Scholarship Class pole from his team-mate Stephen Jelley, while Khan was 3rd in class ahead of Calasan, Kumar and Lewis. At least it looked likely to make for an interesting race as Lewis fought for places.
By: Stella-Maria Thomas and Lynne Waite