From left, Jazeman Jaafar, Jack Harvey & Felix Serralles
After a season of excitement spanning 26 races on Grand Prix circuits across England and in Italy, France, Germany and Belgium, the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series goes down to the wire next weekend (29/30 Sep) at Donington Park.
And what a battle is in prospect with the top two in the championship table – Jazeman Jaafar and Felix Serralles – separated by just six points and with Jack Harvey in third place only 17 points further behind. The points table is so tight that the championship certainly will not be decided in Saturday’s race and, like as not, will go down to the last corner of the last lap of the last race.
All the action from Donington is to be brought to fans’ TV screens on the same weekend as the track action, with the three races being shown “delayed live” on Motors TV in the UK and across Europe.
Events at Silverstone earlier this month show how unpredictable Formula 3 can be: Jaafar arrived there third in the championship, 20 points adrift, and left Northamptonshire in command of the points table. The Malaysian Carlin driver has enjoyed a brilliantly consistent season, claiming three podium finishes from the opening four races and following that up with his first wins, at Pau and Rockingham.
Podiums followed for Jazeman at Brands Hatch, Spa and Snetterton, and at Silverstone he chimed in when it counted with a hat-trick of podium finishes: a win and two seconds. If he can maintain that sort of scoring rate, his title rivals will have their work cut out.
Jaafar says he will not approach the event in any way differently: “I am going to go to Donington like it was any other race weekend, really: push hard and race hard. I am sure that my competitors are going to do the same. Let’s hope for the best. I am not particularly worried; I will just try to get as many points as I can and stay out of trouble.”
Whatever the outcome, Jazeman has enjoyed his three-season stint in British F3: “To get where I am today has involved a great journey and I have really enjoyed the process of learning and developing as a driver and the hard work that Carlin and I have done together. I think the mileage that I have covered has been very beneficial to me and will definitely help me in my future career.”
Puerto Rico’s Serralles is the only Formula 3 rookie of the title-bidders, but he has not let his relative inexperience get in the way. He took his first win for Fortec Motorsport in only his third race, at Oulton Park, won again at Monza, Norisring and Spa, and claimed his fifth win, to equal Harvey’s tally, at Silverstone. And he has made eight additional visits to the podium.
A heavy landing in the final race at Silverstone left him in considerable pain from a bruised coccyx, but Felix is unconcerned: “My back feels OK now, it wasn’t a problem in testing and I don’t think it will be for the weekend.”
He is untroubled also by the pressures of the coming weekend: “I feel the same as if it was just another race. My plan is to do just what I have done since the first race at Oulton Park and do my very best. I don’t have the same pressure as everyone else as this is my first year in British Formula 3 and as always I will be concentrating on keeping focused and driving the best I can.”
For Jack Harvey, the Silverstone races were a character-building affair. He was penalised for a jump start in the first, handed a 30-second penalty in the second after a collision and, on well-worn tyres, struggled around in race three to salvage eighth place. An appeal into the race two penalty has yet to be heard.
It’s been an impressive season for the Racing Steps Foundation-backed Carlin driver. He began it with a win at Oulton Park, added another at Rockingham, and at Brands Hatch won two of the three races. A further victory at Snetterton, plus another seven podiums, looked to have set him up well for his title bid.
Harvey topped the times in testing last week at Donington, which boosted his confidence: “We will fight to the end whatever happens,” he said. “If we get our points back