At Silverstone today Renger van der Zande (Hitech Racing) built on a good qualifying session in his first F3 race of 2009 to win from the lights, despite constant pressure from Max Chilton (Carlin Motorsport), with Adriano Buzaid (T-Sport) coming...
At Silverstone today Renger van der Zande (Hitech Racing) built on a good qualifying session in his first F3 race of 2009 to win from the lights, despite constant pressure from Max Chilton (Carlin Motorsport), with Adriano Buzaid (T-Sport) coming home 3rd. In the National Class, Gabriel Dias (T-Sport) beat off a challenge from Daniel McKenzie (Fortec Motorsport) to come home to his first victory, while Victor Correa (Litespeed F3) was 3rd.
At the start, there were some who were wondering whether Chilton would get off the line cleanly after what happened at Oulton Park, However, the lights came on and Max stayed where he was supposed to. When they finally went out he made a good start, but unfortunately for him van der Zande's effort was so much better. By the time they passed the end of the pitwall, van der Zande was ahead, and would stay there for the rest of the race. Riki Christodoulou (Fortec Motorsport) didn't get away that well, and lost ground, while further back, Daniel Ricciardo (Carlin Motorsport) converted a poor 11th place in qualifying to 7th by the time the race was a lap old. It was the start of a remarkably gritty drive that proved how much the Australian wants to win.
Elsewhere, the even more determined and gritty Nick Tandy (JTR) had grabbed 10th and was in the points as well as in the hunt for further improvements. Meanwhile, Wayne Boyd dived up the inside of Hywel Lloyd (C F Racing) as they tore through Vale for the first time, while at the front Chilton challenged van der Zande for the lead only to end up losing ground to Buzaid. It wasn't a chance he could afford to take again.
The top four were glued together and would stay that way for most of the race, with van der Zande leading Chilton, Buzaid and at this point Daisuke Nakajima (Raikkonen Robertson Racing) after the Japanese elbowed his way past Walter Grubmuller (Hitech Racing), the Austrian promptly also losing a place to Christodoulou. Nakajima was beginning to push very hard but not as hard as Christodoulou who immediately followed up by passing Nakajima. The Japanese then fell back into the clutches of Ricciardo, who wasted no time getting by. It took a very brave and committed move by the Australian but he was now in the top six and it looked as if he wasn't done yet. Someone who probably should be was the man who seems destined to be this year's full stop, always at the end of the timesheets. This time Max Snegirev (West-Tec) managed to spin on his own at the end of the first lap, though he was able to keep going. It seems to be his default mode, and it looks increasingly as if he simply isn't ready for F3. If this goes on he'd be well advised to reconsider his options.
At the front things were much faster and very fraught, with van der Zande not able to drop Chilton and Buzaid hovering just behind them. No matter what he tried, van der Zande had Chilton all over him, while Ricciardo was now after Christodoulou, who at least managed to put Nakajima behind him this weekend, something he'd found frustratingly impossible at Oulton. Meanwhile, Buzaid had a go at Chilton, slowing them both down and allowing Christodoulou and Ricciardo to catch them up. Behind them Nakajima was coming under increasing pressure from Grubmuller and really wasn't having a good day. The result was a fastest lap for Grubmuller, which lasted till Ricciardo crossed the line next time round. That didn't last long either and a lap later van der Zande, trying hard to shake off the annoying teenager on his tail, shattered Christian Bakkerud's old lap record. It still wasn't enough to rid him of Chilton though... and behind the two of them Buzaid was watching and waiting for a mistake.
Behind the battle for the lead it was clear that Ricciardo really wanted that 4th place and he was now pressuring as hard as he could, closing the gap as much as possible. Meanwhile, Tandy was still on the move too, demoting Carlos Huertas (Raikkonen Robertson Racing). It wasn't easy though. Tandy initially went by at Priory but then ran wide, which allowed Huertas to dive back through. Tandy wasn't taking that lying down though and on the way through Vale he drove round the outside of the Colombian, making it stick well and truly this time.
Behind them Henry Arundel (Carlin Motorsport) was now looking at his team-mate Oliver Oakes to see if he could claim 8th. He managed it after Oakes attempted to pass Grubmuller at Stowe and it didn't quite work. Van der Zande, meanwhile, had broken his own lap record again in his efforts to escape. And just behind the top three Ricciardo had a go at claiming 4th but was blocked by very effectively by Christodoulou. All of this was distracting everyone from the National Class battle, between Dias and McKenzie, which had briefly gone McKenzie's way at the start when he managed to get ahead of the Brazilian, but had almost immediately swung back the other way. McKenzie was staying with Dias but he just couldn't find a way past.
He needed to ask Tandy how to do it; the Mygale driver was still climbing the ranks, and had snatched a place from Arundel, having earlier despatched Oakes, and was now 8th just behind Grubmuller. The battle for 4th though was terrific stuff and holding everyone's attention, even though Ricciardo couldn't quite make it stick. Even so Christodoulou couldn't relax at all and he certainly couldn't afford a mistake. Someone else who couldn't really afford a mistake really was Buzaid, but he ran wide at Priory when the wind caught the car; he was lucky to get away with it. The same thing happened to van der Zande a little later, to his surprise, ending up weaving unexpectedly. All of this caught a number of people out, including Lloyd who ended up spinning, though he was able to collect everything back together.
When the dust settled again, Tandy was closing on Grubmuller at speed, which left the Austrian with his mirrors full of the sight you really don't want to see in your mirrors in F3, Tandy. He clearly believed he could snatch 7th place before the race was over. Tandy promptly started really piling on the pressure, getting close enough to pull out and take a look, though he was clearly not yet close enough to actually pull off a move. The rest of the field now looked like the order was pretty settled, unless Tandy was able to do something. Certainly van der Zande wasn't going to give way no matter how hard Chilton tried to force the issue. Buzaid was still 3rd, and getting a fine view of the battle ahead. Mind you, if he looked in his mirrors he would also see that there battle behind was still raging. It intensified when Christodoulou locked up and Ricciardo was right back on him, again looking very hard for a way past. Christodoulou recovered very quickly though, and held on to his place.
Tandy was still pushing hard again now and looking seriously menacing. He must have been the only thing visible in Grubmuller's wing mirrors he was so close. With two laps to go, he made an attempt to get by but it came to nothing and he had to slot back in in 8th. It had been an impressive recovery drive, only really overshadowed by Ricciardo. And that was it for excitement.
And so van der Zande won his first F3 race of the year, ahead of Chilton, Buzaid, Christodoulou, Ricciardo, Nakajima, Grubmuller, Tandy, Arundel and Huertas. 11th was Oakes, from Boyd, Dias taking his first National Class victory, Victor Garcia (Fortec Motorsport), McKenzie, Lloyd, Stephane Richelmi (Barazi Epsilon), Victor Correa (Litespeed F3) and Snegirev.
Fastest laps went to van der Zande and McKenzie.
Weather: Cool, cloudy, gusty winds.