At Brands Hatch this morning, Daniel Ricciardo (Carlin Motorsport) proved utterly dominant in the penultimate race of the 2009 British F3 International Series, claiming the win by a massive margin, setting the fastest lap and shattering the lap ...
At Brands Hatch this morning, Daniel Ricciardo (Carlin Motorsport) proved utterly dominant in the penultimate race of the 2009 British F3 International Series, claiming the win by a massive margin, setting the fastest lap and shattering the lap record several times. A distant 2nd, after a somewhat drama-filled start, was Max Chilton (Carlin Motorsport), while 3rd went to Riki Christodoulou (Fortec Motorsport). The only Invitation Class winner, Marcus Ericsson (Raikkonen Robertson Racing) was 4th overall. The National Class win went to Daniel McKenzie (Fortec Motorsport), ahead of Gabriel Dias (T-Sport) and Joe Ghanem (Carlin Motorsport).
The drama all started well before the race though as Chilton and Ricciardo lined up at the front of the 20-strong grid. There was smoke from the brakes of both cars, which is not unusual. However, Chilton was soon sitting there wreathed in clouds of the stuff as flames started to flare up on either side of the youngster's Dallara. The start was delayed while officials, engineers and marshals all debated what to do about the potential conflagration. Max, meanwhile, sat in the cockpit waving for help! Eventually it was decided that actually, it was OK, and he could start. The race distance was cut by two laps, the green flags were waved and Chilton took off like a rocket.
Finally they lined up on the grid, the gantry lights came on, and went off and Ricciardo streaked away into the lead, though Chilton followed him closely enough, making his best start of the season so far. Walter Grubmuller (Hitech Racing) hauled himself up to 5th during the first lap, while the man who really got away well was McKenzie, who got he drop on Dias as well as some of the International Class boys to claim the National Class lead before they ever got to Druids. Victor Garcia, on the other hand, stalled on the grid and had to be pushed into action, joining in at the back of the pack, while Daisuke Nakajima (Raikkonen Robertson Racing) suffered a clutch failure and plummeted down the order like a stone. Oh, and the inevitable off came from Max Snegirev (Team West-Tec), the Russian getting as far as Clearways before crashing out.
Meanwhile, Ricciardo was in exuberant mood and pulling out a gap even before the end of lap one. As they crossed the line he was already 1.5 seconds ahead and looking masterful. Chilton simply couldn't live with him, and had to settle for holding off Christodoulou, while Ericsson stopped Grubmuller getting any further forward. McKenzie was also enjoying his race, especially as Jay Bridger (Litespeed F3) and Hywel Lloyd (C F Racing) were holding the other National Class runners up.
As is often the case at Brands, things then settled down, with Ricciardo pulling steadily away, while everyone else tried to figure out how to overtake the guy in front. Changes tend to come through mistakes, or breakdowns, and so it proved, when we lost Philip Major (Carlin Motorsport) three laps in, the Canadian spearing off at Paddock. He was soon dragged away by the tow truck that lives there, and the race was spared a Safety Car period.
IT probably wouldn't have made any difference to Ricciardo, such was his mood of relaxed enjoyment, but it might have provided some entertainment further back. As it was Ricciardo set the first of his fastest laps shortly afterwards, while further back Grubmuller was holding off Carlos Huertas (Raikkonen Robertson Racing) and Henry Arundel (Carlin Motorsport) while Wayne Boyd (T-Sport) was being pressured by Buzaid (T- Sport). Ricciardo was in a class of his own though.
The various squabbles settled, and the only real interest was in seeing how far ahead Ricciardo could get by the end of the race. Meanwhile in the National Class Victor Correa was 3rd in class and trying to catch Dias - who was 11 seconds ahead - which may have been why he ended up getting a track limits warning. His mood probably didn't improve when Garcia hacked past him and continued his attempts to recover after his disastrous start. A couple of laps later and Correa was awarded a drive through penalty for ignoring the warning, thus promoting Ghanem to 3rd in class. He wasn't the only driver in trouble, as Boyd pitted for a new nose, lost a lap and charged back out to try and stage some sort of comeback from a long way back.
Untroubled by all of this was Ricciardo, who set another fastest lap and a new lap record on Lap 9. He did it again on lap 10, on lap 13 and lap 15, which must have been frustrating for Chilton, particularly as he was again coming under pressure from Christodoulou, though the latter couldn't quite find a way past. By this stage Ricciardo was a distant blur, 10 seconds ahead and showing no sign of slowing down at all.
Meanwhile, Litespeed F3's drivers seemed to be attempting to set some sort of record for penalties in one race, with Bridger also getting a track limits warning, while Correa continued to ignore the drive through. The officials readied the black flag while arguments raged in the pit lane. Eventually it proved academic, as Correa drove in, and retired with a dead car. That left Bridger, who also continued to offend against the track limits, and so he too was issued a drive through penalty. It was getting a little silly, especially as he too failed to come in to serve the penalty and would be handed a 10 second penalty at the end instead.
Despite one last attempt for 2nd from Christodoulou, that was the end of any excitement at all. Ricciardo came home over 15 second ahead of Chilton, with Christodoulou right behind him. Ericsson was 4th ahead of Grubmuller, Huertas, Arundel, Buzaid, National Class winner McKenzie and Lloyd. Dias was 11th, beating Garcia to the line, and they were followed by Bridger (after his 10 second penalty was applied), Ghanem, Boyd who was a lap down after his pit stop (and who also picked up a 10-second penalty for not respecting the track limits) and the very slow Chinese newcomer, Ma Qing Hua (Team West-Tec).
Fastest laps of the race went to Ricciardo, Ericsson and McKenzie.
Weather: Warm, sunny.