Jakob Ebrey Photography

As the title protagonists of the 2011 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series gear up for their big race weekend at the Nürburgring in Germany comes the news that the 2009 British F3 Champion, Daniel Ricciardo, is to step up to a Grand Prix race seat next weekend at Silverstone.

Ricciardo, 22 today, will join the 2008 British F3 Champion Jaime Alguersuari and the 2007 British F3 National Champion Sergio Perez on the grid for the British Grand Prix, underlining the status of British Formula 3 as the world’s foremost ‘university of motorsport’.

Ricciardo will drive for Hispania Racing at Silverstone, taking a race seat after spending the first half of the season as ‘third driver’ for the Toro Rosso F1 squad: “It’s a dream come true for me – for the first time on an F1 starting grid,” said Australian Ricciardo. “I had to pinch myself a couple of times to be sure that it’s real. I’m excited and can hardly wait to drive at Silverstone. It’s a new challenge, a new experience, a new team, but I’m ready and will give of my best in any event.”

Ricciardo won seven British Formula 3 races with the Carlin team on his way to the ’09 championship title.

Today at the Nürburgring it was the turn of two of Ricciardo’s successors in the Carlin team to shine in final testing ahead of the weekend’s trio of Cooper Tires British Formula 3 races. In the morning’s very wet session championship leader Felipe Nasr of Brazil stretched his legs with a lap time nearly half a second better than that of his closest rival, Denmark’s Kevin Magnussen.

But in the dry afternoon session Magnussen, who has won twice this year to Nasr’s four victories, turned the tables. He was the only man under the 1m 54s mark around the 2.2-mile Grand Prix track, with Nasr six-hundredths behind. Both men have won at the Nürburgring in junior formulae.

“The car felt great in the wet and in the dry,” said Nasr, “and I have raced here in all weathers, so I am feeling confident for the weekend and looking forward to it.” Felipe has just returned from Spain, where he was a guest of the Lotus Renault Grand Prix team – his prize for leading British F3 after 12 of the 30 races.

In the dry, the Volkswagen-powered Carlin team claimed the top five slots on the timesheets, with Carlos Huertas third fastest from Jazeman Jaafar and Rupert Svendsen-Cook. Hywel Lloyd was the quickest Mercedes runner, sixth fastest for Sino Vision Racing.

In the wet, there were strong showings from Fortec’s Will Buller and Double R driver Pipo Derani, third and fourth respectively, with Lloyd’s SVR team-mate Adderly Fong sixth, just behind one of Hitech’s new signings, Portuguese racer Antonio Felix da Costa.

Wet and dry, T-Sport’s Dutch driver Bart Hylkema had the legs of his Rookie class rival Kotaro Sakurai.

Official qualifying and round 13 of the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International series are scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday), with rounds 14 and 15 on Sunday. British Formula 3 enjoys the headlining support of Cooper Tires and is additionally backed by Sunoco Racing Fuels, Anglo American Oil Company and OAMPS.

Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series
Official testing, Nürburgring / 1/7/2011

Championship class
1  Kevin MAGNUSSEN / DEN,  Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen  2m 10.546 / 1m 53.965s
2  Felipe NASR / BRA,  Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen  2m 10.081s / 1m 54.025s
3  Carlos HUERTAS / COL,  Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen  2m 12.329s / 1m 54.166s
4  Jazeman JAAFAR / MAS,  Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen  2m 12.598s / 1m 54.260s
5  Rupert SVENDSEN-COOK / GBR,  Carlin Dallara-VW  2m 11.742s / 1m 54.424s
6  Hywel LLOYD / GBR,  Sino Vision Dallara-Mercedes  2m 14.374s / 1m 54.642s
7  Harry TINCKNELL / GBR,  Fortec Dallara-Mercedes  2m 11.993s / 1m 54.650s
8  Scott PYE / AUS,  Double R Dallara-Mercedes  2m 13.129s / 1m 54.906s
9  Pipo DERANI / BRA,  Double R Dallara-Mercedes  2m 11.590s / 1m 54.908s
10 Pietro FANTIN / BRA,  Hitech Dallara-Volkswagen  2m 12.426s / 1m 54.953s etc

Rookie class
1  Bart HYLKEMA / NED,  T-Sport Dallara-Mugen Honda  2m 13.892s / 1m 56.503s
2  Kotaro SAKURAI / JPN,  Hitech Dallara-Mugen Honda  2m 16.029s / 1m 57.956s

Full timesheets http://bit.ly/mvDuGy