F3 Cup returns to Silverstone's National Circuit
F3 Cup heads to the fast Silverstone National circuit this weekend, for the first time since 2014.
F3 Cup heads to the fast Silverstone National circuit this weekend, for the first time since 2014. That September weekend sticks in the memory for one particular reason - current BRDC British Formula 3 star and multiple McLaren Autosport BRDC Award finalist Toby Sowery was crowned 2014 F3 Cup Champion with no fewer than three races to spare.
This weekend is the first of two consecutive visits to Northamptonshire, with the later July rounds tackling the iconic, full Grand Prix circuit. The competition will be no less fierce this weekend however, with these fast Formula 3 machines in full flight.
Last time out at Snetterton (13/14 May), tyre strategy was the name of the game. Bright sunshine after a sudden downpour before the first race encouraged nearly half the field to pit after the green flag lap to switch back to the Pirelli slick tyres. 2012 Champion Chris Dittmann, filling in for Phillip Jeans, held pole position but after sticking with the wet tyre option found himself losing pace on the drying track in the latter stages of the race. CF Racing's James Heffernan was one of those who made the switch back to the slicks, and his gamble paid off as he worked his way up through the entire field, to his maiden F3 Cup victory. He was joined on the podium by team mate Jacopo Sebastiani and Team Fox's Robbie Watts.
Chris Dittmann cleaned up in the following two races, with a pair of victories cementing his provenance as a Formula 3 driver after a long furlough. As the dust settled, University of Wolverhampton Race Team (UWR) driver Shane Kelly retained his lead of the championship standings, sitting 18 points clear of Sebastiani. Stuart Wiltshire currently holds the third spot, with Irishman Cian Carey and Team Fox's Tony Bishop close behind.
Silverstone always provides close racing, so expect the championship front runners to be in fine form. Heffernan will be keen to recapture his Snetterton form, as will Watts. 2016 Champion George Line has had a tougher run this year, but has broken into the top five twice, so will certainly be one to watch.
Among the 2017 newcomers, David Gillett and Phillip Jeans have settled in well and are making strong progress in their machines.
A number of old friends have returned to the championship this year, the latest being Gino Ussi who had a good weekend at Snetterton. Racing in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund (NMCF), Ussi returns after last racing in F3 Cup in 2012 and showed steady improvement in Norfolk, so expect the Italian driver to be in the mix again this weekend. Similarly, Mark Harrison, Richard Purcell and Malcolm Scott have all enjoyed close mid-field battles this year and will be keen to continue their influence on the Teams' Championship standings, where CF Racing lead from Chris Dittmann Racing, Team Fox and UWR. Wade Eastwood and Jeremy Timms also make welcome returns to the Championship this weekend.