Round 22 - Donington Park
Jaime Alguersuari took his third win in a row to become the first Spanish driver to become the 2008 British F3 International Series Champion. The 18-year-old, who is also youngest ever British F3 Champion, overtook pole position holder Oli Oakes at the start and led to the flag in dominant style. His title rival Oliver Turvey climbed up the field from 20th on the first lap to 8th finishing his season parked next to the track three laps from home. Nick Tandy took his best finish of the year in second place ahead of Sergio Perez. Jay Bridger finished his championship year with a win ahead of Henry Surtees and Steven Guererro.
As the lights went to begin the final race of the year, and the last to run on Avon Tyres before the switch to Cooper Tires in 2009, Jaime Alguersuari lept off the line to get ahead of Oli Oakes into the first corner and head down the Craner Curves in the lead. Sergio Perez also got a good start off the line to get alongside Oakes into Redgate and the Mexican moved up a place. Brendon Hartley also got a good start from 6th on the grid and he also moved ahead of Marcus Ericsson and Nick Tandy before also demoting Oakes before the end of the lap. Oakes lost another place to Tandy before the cars crossed the line at the end of lap one.
Oliver Turvey's championship hopes were dealt another blow when he slipped back to 20th on the opening lap and had to begin the long hard slog back through the field.
Alguersuari started to pull away from Perez as Hartley put pressure on the Mexican, who also had Tandy's JTR Mygale snapping at his heals. On lap 8 Hartley went around the outside of Perez into Redgate and the two cars were side by side down the Craner Curves into the Old Hairpin, but Perez was not going to yield the position. Hartley was now at a disadvantage and Tandy saw an opportunity under Starky's Bridge and swept past the Red Bull car as the New Zealander struggled to maintain momentum after his aborted attempt to overtake Perez.
A couple of laps later Hartley came into the pits for a new tyre after a puncture slowed his progress. Meanwhile Oliver Turvey's progress up the field was continuing and was 9th at the half way point of the race.
Nick Tandy had also got the run on Sergio Perez, passing the Mexican on lap 13. A lap later Oli Oakes lost another place to Sam Abay and the Australian set about trying to pass Perez closing right up behind the Mexican, forcing Perez to go defensive at Redgate on lap 18. Sixth placed Marcus Ericsson was also having to defend his position from his new Fortec teammate Dean Smith and the Swede and Oli Oakes lost out at the Chicane as Smith went ahead of both cars at the end of lap 20.
In the National Class Jay Bridger was having a better time of it having got a decent start and found himself with a comfortable gap to second placed Henry Surtees after Steven Guerrero had dropped back at the start.
Jaime Alguersuari was almost cruising to the British F3 title, the Spaniard holding a seven second lead over Tandy, who in turn maintained a three second gap to Perez who was dealing with the attentions of Sam Abay. Tandy then started to eat into Alguersuari's lead as the race entered the final few laps but the reduction in the gap wasn't going to be enough to put Tandy into a challenging position before the end of the race.
Oliver Turvey was still in the move, passing Oli Oakes and then challenging Marcus Ericsson under Starky's Bridge. However Turvey's race was soon to be over as the cars touched and the Racing Steps Foundation Dallara spun and ended up facing the wrong way on the grass while Ericsson was able to keep going after losing one place to Oakes. Oliver Turvey walked away with his head down knowing his championship dreams were over unless Alguersuari failed to finish the race.
Sam Abay made one final attempt to pass Perez to claim his first podium finish of the year but the Australian went in too deep into Redgate and ran wide on the exit allowing Dean Smith the opportunity to move ahead and claim his secodn 4th place finish of the day.
Jaime Alguersuari's Red Bull Dallara kept circulating around the Donington Park circuit and when the chequered flag came out at the end of lap 29 there was no disguising his joy as he took the applause of his Carlin Motorsport team lining the pitwall and claimed the title of 2008 British F3 International Series Champion, the first rookie driver to win the Series since Antonio Pizzonia in 2000.
Reflecting on his achievement, Alguersuari said, “I just can’t believe that I’ve won the title. The odds were stacked against me coming to Donington, but the team and my engineer have done a fantastic job. It’s been a very close year of racing and very competitive, so it makes it even more special to win this year against such good drivers.”
The season finale from Donington Park can be seen again on Channel 4 in the UK and on Motors TV across Europe starting from Sunday 19 October. Click Here to the full TV schedule.
CLICK HERE to see the final championship positions
Round 22: result
1 - 4 - INT - Jaime ALGUERSUARI - ESP - 30:21.986 - 29 laps
2 - 28 - INT - Nick TANDY - GBR - +4.171s
3 - 9 - INT - Sergio PEREZ - MEX - +12.032s
4 - 7 - INT - Dean SMITH - GBR - +12.968s
5 - 18 - INT - Sam ABAY - AUS - +13.300s
6 - 85 - INV - Oliver OAKES - GBR - +14.879s
7 - 8 - INT - Marcus ERICSSON - SWE - +19.973s
8 - 50 - NAT - Jay BRIDGER - GBR - +22.909s
9 - 42 - NAT - Henry SURTEES - GBR - +24.984s
10 - 6 - INT - Henry ARUNDEL - GBR - +25.567s
11 - 1 - INT - Max CHILTON - GBR - +25.933s
12 - 24 - INT - John MARTIN - AUS - +39.627s
13 - 53 - NAT - Steven GUERRERO - COL - +40.341s
14 - 43 - NAT - Adriano BUZAID - BRA - +40.593s
15 - 51 - NAT - Stefan WILSON - GBR - +41.420s
16 - 52 - NAT - Hywel LLOYD - GBR - +45.615s
17 - 14 - INT - Philip MAJOR - CAN - +46.246s
18 - 26 - INT - Atte MUSTONEN - FIN - +53.369s
19 - 84 - INV - Clemente FARIA Jnr - BRA - +1 lap
20 - 2 - INT - Walter GRUBMULLER - AUT - +3 laps
21 - 61 - NAT - Jonathan LEGRIS - GBR - +6 laps
DNF - 17 - INT - Oliver TURVEY - GBR - +3 laps
DNF - 3 - INT - Brendon HARTLEY - NZL - +7 laps
DNF - 57 - NAT - Callum MacLEOD - GBR - +14 laps
3 - INT - Brendon HARTLEY - NZL - 1:01.721 - 114.16mph - 183.73kph
57 - NAT - Callum MacLEOD - GBR - 1:02.848 - 112.11mph - 180.43kph
85 - INV - Oliver OAKES - GBR - 1:02.531 - 112.68mph - 181.35kph