Felipe Nasr is the 2011 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series Champion. The 19-year-old Brazilian this afternoon became the 12th of his countrymen to claim the crown, thanks to a measured drive to third place in the third race of the Rockingham weekend.
While his Carlin team-mate Kevin Magnussen celebrated the race win, and his fellow Brazilian Pietro Fantin was acclaimed for finishing second, Nasr’s smile was the widest on the Rockingham podium as he took in his achievement.
“It’s great,” said Nasr. “I still don’t quite get what it means. This feels like the end of a normal race for me! And yet I feel very happy. Grabbing the title early on here is just amazing. It’s been a lot of work, a lot of dedication from the team, and it’s very special.
“I know that many big names came from British Formula 3 and I am sure that I have done this step really well and now things are just going to get better for me. I think the best moment of the year for me was Monza, when I won two races. I will never forget that weekend, it was the best feeling ever.”
Nasr is the fourth consecutive British Formula 3 Champion for the Carlin team, following in the wheeltracks of Jaime Alguersuari and Daniel Ricciardo – both of whom now race in Formula 1 – and Jean-Eric Vergne, who is on the brink of a Grand Prix career. Felipe has achieved the feat with six races to run, and he warns his rivals: “Now I will be taking risks and going for the wins.”
It nearly went wrong for Nasr before the start of the Rockingham finale. On a track made treacherous from heavy rain earlier, all were struggling for grip and Felipe spun, fortunately without damage, on his way to the grid.
Magnussen was in superior form throughout, the Dane overhauling pole man Fantin away from the line to assume a lead he never looked in danger of losing. Hitech Racing man and Saturday victor Fantin was an ever-present threat, however, finishing just 0.7s behind at the line. Pietro was awarded the Sunoco Driver of the Weekend for his efforts.
Magnussen had to endure two safety car periods as others slithered off and into the gravel traps and each other. “It was a tough race,” said Kevin. “There were two safety cars and I had pressure from Pietro all the race; he did a good job keeping me under pressure. It was all about not making any mistakes.” Magnussen’s win promotes him to championship second.
Will Buller moves into championship third, ahead of non-finisher Carlos Huertas, after another strong run from a middling grid slot. The Fortec man battled up to fifth on the opening lap and picked off Jazeman Jaafar after the first safety period to secure fourth. Jaafar held on for fifth ahead of his Carlin running mate Jack Harvey.
Scott Pye was seventh for Double R, ahead of Fortec’s Harry Tincknell, T-Sport man Bart Hylkema and Fahmi Ilyas, the third of the four Fortec men. Kotaru Sakurai was once again the Rookie class victor.
Round 23 report
Earlier in the day, Scott Pye joined the British Formula 3 winners’ club when the 21-year-old Australian led the 20-minute ‘sprint race’ from pole position to chequered flag.
It was a copybook performance from the Double R Racing driver, Scott putting all the wet-track knowledge gained during his 2010 Formula Ford championship-winning season to good use on a circuit left streaming wet by heavy pre-race rain. Pye made a perfect getaway at the lights, seeing off a determined challenge from Kevin Magnussen on the run through the banked first turn to secure top spot as they filed through the tight second hairpin, Deene.
By first lap’s end Pye was 1.9s clear of Magnussen and by mid-distance had stretched his advantage to nearly eight seconds. Champion elect Felipe Nasr had by this stage taken over second spot after Magnussen fell foul of the conditions and slithered his way down to fourth.
At the chequered flag, Pye was 10.2s ahead. “It was all about the start,” said Scott. “With the spray and the rain it was going to be difficult to overtake. Kevin and I made very similar starts but I led into turn one and commanded the race from there. After that it was just a case of keeping my head down. I knew that we were quick in the wet and though there was a lot of pressure with Kevin and Felipe behind me I kept my head down and drove away.”
After being gifted second by Magnussen’s error, Nasr was more than content to cruise and collect the points, adding the extra two awarded for fastest lap with a lightning 11th-lap tour. “Scott was way too far ahead of me to catch,” said Felipe, “I was happy to maintain my pace and get the points. I was struggling to find grip early on; once I had some heat in them it was not so bad.”
The battle for third place was a highlight – Jazeman Jaafar held it all the way to the final corner, where he was jumped not only by the recovering Magnussen but also by a mercurial Will Buller, who enjoyed a stunning opening lap to plough his way through to seventh, from which spot he picked off those ahead to secure fourth on the road.
Post-race, stewards deemed that Magnussen had cut the final chicane and gained an unfair advantage, and penalised him by three seconds. This promoted Buller to third overall, Jaafar to fourth and dropped Magnussen back to fifth.
T-Sport’s Menasheh Idafar claimed seventh ahead of Double R man Pipo Derani, SVR’s Hywel Lloyd and Rupert Svendsen-Cook for Carlin.
Kotaro Sakurai led the Rookie class from start to finish, despite a last-lap spin, to head home West-Tec’s driver Luca Orlandi.
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
Round 23, Rockingham 4/9/2011
13 laps / 25.22 miles
Provisional results Championship class
1 Scott PYE / AUS, Double R Dallara-Mercedes 20m 19.368s / 74.45mph
2 Felipe NASR / BRA, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen +10.217s
3 William BULLER /GBR, Fortec Dallara-Mercedes +17.592s
4 Jazeman JAAFAR / MAS, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen +15.359s
5 Kevin MAGNUSSEN / DEN, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen +15.765s
6 Carlos HUERTAS / COL, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen +16.229s
7 Menasheh IDAFAR / GBR, T-Sport Dallara-Volkswagen +17.976s
8 Pipo DERANI / BRA, Double R Dallara-Mercedes +18.406s
9 Hywel LLOYD / GBR, Sino Vision Dallara-Mercedes +20.220s
10 Rupert SVENDSEN-COOK / GBR, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen +23.827s etc
1 Kotaro SAKURAI / JPN, Hitech Dallara-Mugen Honda +1m 13.910s
2 Luca ORLANDI / ITA, Team West-Tec Dallara-Mugen Honda 12 laps
Fastest lap Nasr 1m 32.614s / 75.40mph
Round 24, Rockingham 4/9/2011
24 laps / 46.56 miles
Provisional results Championship class
1 Kevin MAGNUSSEN / DEN, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 40m 10.018s / 69.54mph
2 Pietro FANTIN / BRA, Hitech Dallara-Volkswagen +0.691s
3 Felipe NASR / BRA, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen +4.579s
4 William BULLER /GBR, Fortec Dallara-Mercedes +8.721s
5 Jazeman JAAFAR / MAS, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen +9.271s
6 Jack HARVEY / GBR, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen +15.077s
7 Scott PYE / AUS, Double R Dallara-Mercedes +17.325s
8 Harry TINCKNELL / GBR, Fortec Dallara-Mercedes +29.851s
9 Bart HYLKEMA / NED, T-Sport Volkswagen +31.270s
10 Fahmi ILYAS / MAS, Fortec Dallara-Mercedes 33.123s etc
1 Kotaro SAKURAI / JPN, Hitech Dallara-Mugen Honda +55.400s
2 Luca ORLANDI / ITA, Team West-Tec Dallara-Mugen Honda 23 laps
Fastest lap Fantin 1m 31.262s / 76.52mph
Full timesheets http://bit.ly/q3seNy
Provisional championship standings
1 Nasr 297 points; 2 Magnussen 174; 3 Buller 171; 4 Carlos Huertas / COL 166; 5 Jaafar 159; 6 Rupert Svendsen-Cook / GBR 144 etc
1 Sakurai 300; 2 Bart Hylkema / NED 214; 3 Orlandi 45.
Next rounds 24/25 September, Donington Park