Brands Hatch GP circuit provides entertaining first day

F3 Cup's now annual visit to the iconic Brands Hatch GP circuit got underway yesterday (15 August) in great style

F3 Cup's now annual visit to the iconic Brands Hatch GP circuit got underway yesterday (15 August) in great style, supporting the Lotus Festival at the Kent circuit. This year's rounds see the championship join forces with the 2000, 1800 and Dtec classes of the Monoposto championship, resulting in a grid some 33 cars strong.

Qualifying kicked off at midday, with all of the championship leaders quickly settling into a rhythm with lap times in the low 1:20s. Carlin's Zach Claman de Melo clearly revelled in mastering the challenging circuit, but regulars Louis Hamilton-Smith, Stuart Wiltshire and Aaron Steele certainly weren't lagging behind. Despite the large grid, the F3 Cup drivers all posted good times, with Claman de Melo ultimately taking overall pole position with a 1:20.774. Of the championship runners, Louis Hamilton-Smith excelled - as he often does at Brands Hatch - and took the top spot with a 1:21.856, ahead of Wiltshire and Steele. Henry Chart and Daniel Tapinos completed the top five. Adrian Holey's sole Trophy Class car had no trouble holding its own against the Mono competition, while Geoffrey Hoodless and newcomer Graham Read also posted strong times.

The weekend's first race was also the last of the day; and as the start lights went out in the late evening sun it was Zach Claman de Melo who made the most of his pole position, storming off towards Paddock Hill. Louis Hamilton-Smith also made a fantastic start, but sadly an incident on that first lap was to end his race prematurely. Aaron Steele took full advantage, launching himself up to second place by the end of the first lap, ahead of Stuart Wiltshire and Daniel Tapinos.

A collision between some Mono runners brought the safety car out while the cars were recovered which allowed Wiltshire and Steele to close the gap to Claman de Melo again. At the restart the Carlin driver couldn't quite make the jump on his rivals, and the three of them headed into Paddock Hill in close succession. Tapinos, Chart and Sebastiani followed, enjoying their own battle for fourth place.

Shortly after, Chart and Tapinos had an unfortunate coming together as they headed onto the GP loop, putting them both out of the running. This promoted Sebastiani to fourth, followed by Read and Hoodless further down the pack. The incident ultimately resulted in a red flag being called, which brought the race to an early close.

Today brings a fresh start, with qualifying at 13:20 ahead of the weekend's second race at 16:25. Live updates will be available on Twitter as usual, with live timing via the F3 Cup website.


F3 Cup - Brands Hatch GP, 15/16 August - Qualifying One results

  1. Zach Claman de Melo (Inv) - Dallara F308 - 1:20.774
  2. Louis Hamilton-Smith (Cup) - Dallara F307 - 1:21.856
  3. Stuart Wiltshire (Cup) - Dallara F308 - 1:22.708
  4. Aaron Steele (Cup) - Dallara F307 - 1:22.922
  5. Henry Chart (Cup) - Dallara F305 - 1:22.941
  6. Daniel Tapinos (Cup) - Dallara F311 - 1:25.376
  7. Jacopo Sebastiani (Cup) - Dallara F311 - 1:26.312
  8. Adrian Holey (Trophy) - Dallara F300 - 1:28.244
  9. Graham Read (Inv) - Dallara F306 - 1:34.572
  10. Geoffrey Hoodless (Inv) - Ralt RT1 - 1:39.618


F3 Cup - Brands Hatch GP, 15/16 August - Race One results

  1. Zach Claman de Melo (Inv) - Dallara F308 - 6 laps
  2. Aaron Steele (Cup) - Dallara F307 + 9.240
  3. Stuart Wiltshire (Cup) - Dallara F308 +11.540
  4. Jacopo Sebastiani (Cup) - Dallara F311 - +19.339
  5. Adrian Holey (Trophy) - Dallara F300 +39.792
  6. Graham Read (Inv) - Dallara F306 +54.245
  7. Geoffrey Hoodless (Inv) - Ralt RT1 +1:23.213
  8. Daniel Tapinos (Cup) - Dallara F311 - DNF
  9. Henry Chart (Cup) - Dallara F305 - DNF
  10. Louis Hamilton-Smith (Cup) - Dallara F307 - DNF