Felix Serralles swept to his fourth win of the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series season this afternoon at Spa-Francorchamps, Fortec’s rookie racer battling past early leader Carlos Sainz to claim the victory and move into championship second.
Alas Serralles and his rivals were denied the chance to race for a second time today by heavy rain which burst over Spa just before the scheduled start of the 20-minute reverse-grid sprint race. With standing water all around the circuit, the event was cancelled by officials.
The day’s earlier race – held in bright sunshine – was a thriller from the outset, when Carlin driver Sainz outgunned pole man Serralles away from the start to lead the 29-car field into La Source hairpin. Puerto Rico’s Serralles was neither surprised nor disheartened: “There was more grip in the tyres than I was expecting at the start so I bogged down a bit. But I wasn’t worried too much if I stayed P2 because I knew that I could slipstream Carlos later.”
Serralles trailed Sainz for two laps before lining up the Spaniard for a spectacular pass into Les Combes on the third lap. Thereafter Felix was in a class of his own, setting fastest lap on the way to a one-second lead over Sainz by the end of the following lap. At the chequered flag Serralles was the victor by five-and-a-half seconds. His thoughts are not yet on the championship, he says: “Not really. I have nothing to lose. This is only my first year of British F3; I go race by race and will fight to the end. We will see then.”
It was not Sainz who followed Serralles home, however: FIA European F3 title hopeful Daniel Juncadella (Prema) followed Felix’ example at Les Combes on lap five to pass his Spanish countryman Sainz and secure second place overall. “Yesterday we struggled for pace in qualifying,” said Daniel, “today the car was not so bad but we are still trying to get on top of the best set-up.”
Sainz was third on the road and a confidence-boosting second among the British F3 men, his best result since Pau in May. “At the start I did exactly what I had been planning all night to do, and it worked out, so I can be really happy with my first two laps. After that, I didn’t have the best pace and it was a case of trying to survive with the tyre degradation.”
Championship leader Jack Harvey endured a difficult day yesterday, missing most of the first practice session with an engine misfire and crashing out of qualifying after a collision with the car of Hannes van Asseldonk. The Racing Steps Foundation driver started 10th and made up four spots on the opening lap, then moved into fifth ahead of Alex Lynn on lap five.
Jack then chased down his title rival and Carlin team-mate Jazeman Jaafar, snatching fourth overall – and third in championship terms – from the Malaysian on the final lap. “Yesterday was not a great day but today, fourth from 10th is pretty good,” says Jack.
Jaafar placed fifth ahead of Fortec’s Lynn, with the British championship top 10 completed by Pipo Derani, Harry Tincknell – who lost out at the start with a slow getaway – Geoff Uhrhane (Double R), Pietro Fantin and T-Sport’s Nick McBride.
Double R’s Duvashen Padayachee led the four-car National class battle from start to finish, the 22-year-old Australian collecting his fifth class win of the year ahead of CF Racing’s Adderly Fong and T-Sport duo Spike Goddard and Pedro Pablo Calbimonte. “I didn’t know where I was in relation to the other guys,” said Duvashen. “I was in a pack of International cars and it was a free-for-all. I just tried to stay with them and my race pace was great.”
The 40-minute Spa finale is scheduled for 1205 local time (1105 UK) Saturday.
Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series
Round 18, Spa-Francorchamps (BEL) 27/07/2012
13 laps / 56.58 miles
Provisional results British International & *FIA Euro classes
1 Felix SERRALLES / PUR, Fortec Dallara-Mercedes 29m 45.219s / 114.08mph
2 *Daniel JUNCADELLA / ESP, Prema Dallara-Mercedes +5.657s
3 (2) Carlos SAINZ / ESP, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen +10.462s
4 (3) Jack HARVEY / GBR, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen +12.678s
5 (4) Jazeman JAAFAR / MAS, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen +14.364s
6 (5) Alex LYNN / GBR, Fortec Dallara-Mercedes +14.515s
7 *Michael LEWIS / USA, Prema Dallara-Mercedes +16.009s
8 (6) Pipo DERANI / BRA, Fortec Dallara-Mercedes +16.776s
9 *Felix ROSENQVIST / SWE, Mücke Dallara-Mercedes +18.081s
10 *Tom BLOMQVIST / GBR, ma-con Dallara-Volkswagen +20.037s
13 (7) Harry TINCKNELL / GBR, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen +27.009s
15 (8) Geoff UHRHANE / AUS, Double R Dallara-Mercedes +29.233s
16 (9) Pietro FANTIN / BRA, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen +31.052s
18 (10) Nick McBRIDE / AUS, T-Sport Dallara-Nissan +33.004s
21 (11) Fahmi ILYAS / MAS, Double R Dallara-Mercedes +38.501s
23 (12) Hannes VAN ASSELDONK / NED, Fortec Dallara-Mercedes +45.415s
1 Duvashen PADAYACHEE / AUS, Double R Dallara-Mugen Honda +54.785s
2 Adderly FONG / CHI, CF Racing Dallara-Mugen Honda +1m 01.814s
3 Spike GODDARD / AUS, T-Sport Dallara-Mugen Honda +1m 01.912s
4 Pedro Pablo CALBIMONTE / BOL, T-Sport Dallara-Mugen Honda +1m 03.490s
Fastest lap Serralles 2m 16.123s / 115.08mph
Provisional championship standings
1 Harvey 198 points; 2 Serralles 197; 3 Jaafar 192; 4 Sainz 155; 5 Lynn 152; 6 Fantin 139 etc
National class: 1 Goddard 282; 2 Padayachee 253; 3 Fong 77; 4 Calbimonte 10.