British F3: Snetterton Review

After three more races of the BRDC British F3, championship leader Enaam Ahmed was able to extend his lead in the standings with two race victories this weekend, but others had very impressive races too.

For race 1, it was Carlin’s James Pull on pole after setting the quickest time earlier in the day during a damp qualifying session. He was just under half-a-second quicker than the rest of the field, with teammate Enaam Ahmed lining up alongside him, with Sowery and O’Keefe on the second row.

At the start of the race, Pull got away from the line well as Ahmed tried to line up on the inside, leaving the door open for Sowery, who took to the outside and claimed 2nd. But Ahmed was able to reclaim the position at Murrays later on in the lap.

On lap two, the inter-Carlin fight for the lead was completed on the Bentley straight, with Ahmed able to overtake Pull for the race lead. Further back, Cameron Das was able to dispatch of Jamie Chadwich for 6th. The safety car was deployed on the same lap, with Omar Ismail spinning out at the esses.

On the restart, Ahmed continued to extend a lead over James Pull, who was occupied in defending against Toby Sowery and Callan O’Keeffe, who were battling for the final podium spot.

At the chequered flag, Enaam Ahmed crossed the line for his fifth win of the season, with a 3s lead over James Pull, who claimed another strong podium finish here too for Carlin. Sowery was once again on the pace for Lanan and completed the race 1 podium having fended off O’Keeffe, who finished 4th. Ben Hingeley was 5th for Fortec, with Cameron Das securing 6th.

After the race, Enaam Ahmed said,

“It was quite tough because I didn’t have that great a start; I usually have great starts, so I was quite surprised I had a bad one. Toby overtook me and he did a really good move around the outside into turn one and to be honest I didn’t think I’d be able to overtake him back. I thought I’d end up being third, but I had a run through Coram and I watched some BRDC F4 races from four years ago and I think I saw Will Palmer do the move into the last corner. I had a run on Toby so I thought I’d give it a try and it paid off, so I managed to pass him.

Then I caught James and he made an unlucky mistake coming onto the straight, so it enabled me to get the slipstream on him and pass him. Once I got into the lead all the main focus was because my engineer Mark keeps telling me to set the fastest lap, that’s all he really cares about in these races. I got my head down and I think I ended up doing that as well, so it was really good.”

– Enaam Ahmed

The British Formula 3 drivers weren’t finished at Snetterton yet, with two more races the next day.

Race 2 proved to be one of the stories of the weekend with a driver debut turning heads. At the start of the race, Jordan Cane made the most of his p1 start by getting a way cleanly in the Douglas Motorsport car. Fellow front-row starter Jamie Chadwick didn’t get away as well and the opportunistic Cameron Das overtook her for 2nd.

Das would put intense pressure onto Cane the leader for the opening five laps before the debut driver could start to pull away and get into his own rhythm. By this point, O’Keeffe was again at the sharp end of the pack in 3rd, followed closely by Fortec’s Ben Hingeley and the Lanan car of Toby Sowery.

James Pull suffered damage to one of his tyres after picking up debris, so he had to pit for a tyre change. Whilst race 2 wasn’t looking good, he did set a lap fast enough to get him onto the front-row for race three alongside his Carlin teammate Enaam Ahmed, who was having a quiet race 2 in 6th.

The Douglas Motorsport cars in the podium positions were working well in that O’Keeffe was keeping 2nd place Cameron Das honest, meaning the Carlin driver was having to focus of his defensive game, which gave Jordan Cane up ahead a bit of breathing space.

At the chequered flag, Jordan Cane claimed victory on his debut weekend, with Cameron Das securing 2nd and another podium for Carlin, With Callan O’Keeffe 3rd. Hingeley and Sowery were 4th and 5th, with Enaam Ahmed 6th.

After the race, Jordan Cane said,

“It’s amazing. We didn’t have a great day yesterday, because we knew our pace was quick in the dry, so we struggled in the wet in qualifying. I have to say thank you to the team because I only did one test for this team when they took me on, and my dad, because if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be here right now.

The first five laps Cameron was really putting pressure on me, especially into turn two, so it was kind of in that phase where do I defend or not, because if you defend you’re going to compromise your run out of the exit. We just managed to keep it there, keep it consistent, minimise mistakes and the second three-quarters of the race I started to pull a bit of a gap, and I was hoping these two [Cameron Das and Callan O’Keeffe] would fight a bit more, but I managed to get there in the end.”

– Jordan Cane

For the final race at Snetterton, it was an all-Carlin front-row, with Enaam Ahmed starting on pole with James Pull beside him. As the lights went out, Ahmed retained the lead after a good start, but Sowery flew off the line in 3rd and was able to get past James Pull, breaking up the Carlin monopoly.

 

From there, Ahmed was able to build a gap of 2s and set a fastest lap that was half-a-second quicker than the chasing pack. Sowery kept his lead over Pull, although this was a bit smaller than the gap ahead, and the second Carlin car on-track was keeping the Lanan driver in his crosshairs.

Behind this battle were the Douglas Motorsport cars of Jordan Cane and Callan O’Keeffe. The race 2 winner was consistent throughout the weekend and continued to fight near the front for race 3. O’Keeffe overtook Das at the start, the third Carlin driver was running in 6th. That order remained until the end.

Ahmed was able to claim his sixth victory of the season out of nine races. He showed title-winning form once again this weekend and extends his lead in the standings to 44-points over teammate Cameron Das, who had another consistent weekend. Toby Sowery’s Snetterton haul sees the Douglas Motorsport driver within touching distance of Ben Hingeley in the standings. The are 3rd and 4th, separated by only 6-points. Callan O’Keeffe in now only 4-points behind Hingeley’s Fortec with 5th overall, and James Pull is 6th.

After race 3, Enaam Ahmed said,

“It has been a really good weekend; I knew it was one of my strongest tracks, because the guys call me a Snetterton specialist. The car’s been faultless all weekend and as the heat increased, it suited our car more so it was really good.

Toby was genuinely quick at the very beginning, it took me a while to get my left side new tyres in, but once I did I was able to eke out the gap. He was really quick the whole race, genuinely, so it was really good.

It’s been good, but we’ve all had our strengths and weaknesses and our strong tracks. This is a strong track of mine, and I know others are better at other tracks, so we going to have to keep working. Toby’s really good around Silverstone and Spa, he was much quicker than us in testing, so he’ll give a good race there.”

– Enaam Ahmed

Next up on the BRDC British Formula 3 calendar is Silverstone, which gets underway June 10.