Avon Tyres British Formula Three Championship - Round 18,
Silverstone, Northamptonshire, August 13th/15th
© Stella-Maria Thomas and Lynne Waite
Weather: Windy. Warm.
Just as he had been in the first session, so Will Power (Alan
Docking Racing) was again out first for the second session
of the day, this one counting towards Round 18 of the series.
Clivio Piccione (Carlin Motorsport) was another one who was
out there early taking a good look at track conditions. He
wasn't looking a lot faster at this stage but it's hard to
tell as they all explore the track to see what difference
the presence of the LMES cars between the two F3 sessions
would make. It seemed to have improved things somewhat, the
rubber laid down by the Porsches and Audis leaving the track
in better condition than it had been in the morning.
Danny Watts (Promatecme F3) wasn't wasting any time, and was
soon at the top of the times, but Power took it right back,
and was joined on the provisional front row by Rob Austin
(Menu Motorsport), the pair of then in the 1.47s very quickly.
Adam Carroll (P1 Motorsport) on the other hand, was in the
pits, initially just for tyres, but then he hung around getting
all sorts of adjustments made to the car. Marko Asmer (Hitech
Racing) always seems to reach his peak early in the session,
and with him in 7th this looked like it would be the same
thing all over again. Piccione, meanwhile, was on the pace
and took a temporary run to 3rd place. It was just a question
of whether he could keep it. What was rather odd was the presence
of Marcus Marshall (Fortec Motorsport), the likeable Australian
a lot further up the order than usual in 6th. He probably
wouldn't get to stay there, but his parents were over and
there were rumours that this would be his last race, so let
him enjoy it while he could.
In the Scholarship Class it was all down to the battling duo
of Stephen Jelley (Performance Racing), and Ryan Lewis (T-Sport),
Lewis again getting the better of Jelley in the early stages
and looking set to stay ahead.
There was an early rush to the pits for new tyres going on,
and it looked as if we'd have another session where all the
interest would be crammed into the early part of the session,
and then we could all go off and watch paint dry
led the general rush to the pits, and was followed by most
of the rest of the field. Danilo Dirani (Carlin Motorsport)
was now 3rd, while Piccione was clinging on to 4th with grim
determination. He too wandered into the pits early though,
having got off line on both of his fastest laps. He wasn't
too happy with the situation, unsurprisingly perhaps. Austin,
meanwhile, was still 2nd and looking very strong.
And while all this was going on, Carroll was still in the
pits, biding his time perhaps, stewing in frustration more
like. Nelson A Piquet (Piquet Sports) was now out on the track
and looking ready to go for a time. If that was what you thought,
you weren't mistaken. He's been nowhere, but now he was on
pole, by six tenths of a second
It was impressive as
hell, and most people were probably shaking their heads and
wondering what they could do about the Brazilian teenager.
The answer turned out to be not very much, no matter how hard
they tried to convince themselves that it was simply that
he'd gone out on new tyres straight away. As it turned out,
he hadn't. It did nothing for the confidence of the rest of
them to know that.
Karun Chandhok (T-Sport) came back out on his new tyres, but
they didn't seem to do him any good at all. James Rossiter
(Fortec Motorsport) was again struggling to start with and
was now 10th, just behind Piccione who has slipped back to
9th. Meanwhile, the top four was Piquet, from Austin, Power
and Watts. Elsewhere, Jelley had gone agricultural and was
hacking across the grass, which wasn't doing his chances of
seeing off Lewis any good at all.
At the front, Piquet was piling on the pressure by going even
faster. Both Austin and Carroll attempted to respond, as did
Power. Carroll clawed his way up to 3rd, while Austin did
his best to hang on to 2nd, only to lose it to Power after
a wild but fast lap from the Australian. While Piquet put
in an even faster lap, Austin came straight back at Power
to reclaim a front row slot. Oddly, Andrew Thompson (Hitech
Racing) was also in the top ten, and was now 8th, while his
teammate Lucas di Grassi was 5th. But there was still half
the session left to run. Things could still change drastically.
Power clearly hadn't given up yet, that was for sure. The
next thing anyone knew, the Australian had edged back ahead
of Austin, while a little further down Chandhok was now 8th.
The weird thing was that the wind had shifted round as the
session got underway, and now there was a cross wind on the
main straight that was affecting handling and seemed to be
spooking some drivers worse than others. It was odd, because
afterwards some people complained about it and others claimed
not to have even noticed it.
Watts was now in the pits and had consequently slipped to
12th, while Rossiter leap-frogged up to 5th. The top four
were still swapping around (well, Piquet was staying right
where, he was while Carroll, Austin and Power fought for 2nd).
It was beginning to slow again though. While Lewis claimed
the Scholarship Class pole by half a second, and then pitted,
the main of the improvements seemed to be over.
With ten minutes left, Alvaro Parente (Carlin Motorsport)
wasn't exactly happy. He was only 11th, the only positive
thing to be said for it was that his team-mate Dirani was
slower than him - only just but you look for encouragement
where you cam find it in those sort of circumstances. Watts,
meanwhile, was on the way back up the order having recently
emerged from the pits. Di Grassi was another one improving,
and was now 5th. While all this was going on, Piquet had pitted,
a stone embedded in the front right tyre. He didn't really
need to go back out there, anyway, so he clambered out of
the car and watched the rest of the session from the pit wall.
He can't have found it very interesting, though Rossiter was
still on the move, gaining a place to go 5th. Asmer, meanwhile,
was skittering around on the marbles at Woodcote, but he wasn't
likely to go any faster now. There were slight improvements,
but no one was changing places. Di Grassi gave up with a little
under five minutes left, and he wasn't the only one.
Watts hadn't given up though. A late dash saw him grab 4th
place alongside Austin. Lars Sexton (Planet Racing), on the
other hand, was last of all again, and had now ground to a
halt out on the track. And really, that was about it, apart
from a last lap improvement from Rossiter to go back to 5th,
ahead of Power.
And so Piquet claimed another fine pole position, from Carroll,
Austin, Watts, Rossiter, Power, di Grassi, Piccione, Asmer
and Fairuz Fauzy (P1 Motorsport), who must be regretting leaving
Menu. 11th was Parente, from Dirani, Thompson, Marshall, Chandhok
and James Walker (Hitech Racing), the latter so scathing about
his own performance that the quote is unusable in public!
To no one's surprise, Lewis again claimed the Scholarship
Class pole, from Jelley, James Winslow (Reon Racing), Vasilije
Calasan (Promatecme F3), Ronayne O'Mahony (Performance Racing)