Recently crowned 2011 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International SeriesChampion Felipe Nasr had one of his toughest events of the season at adrama-filled Donington Park Grand Prix Circuit over the weekend, 24th/25thSeptember.Blindingly quick as always, as proven by taking pole position duringqualifying on Saturday, the Carlin ace was on the receiving end of someserious misfortune at the 2.5-mile East Midlands track but, even so, hestill managed to break the 300 point barrier in the championship standings.Unfortunately, the weekend was marred for Felipe by contact with team-mateKevin Magnussen in two of the three races - most notably in Sundayafternoon's feature race, round 27, where the Dane punted Brazil's aspiringFormula One driver out of the lead on the opening lap.With the track already slippery due to prior rainfall, worsening conditionsahead of the 40-minute encounter resulted in pole-sitter Felipe and thoseimmediately behind him on the grid switching from slick tyres to treadedwet-weather rubber ahead of the green flag formation lap.Proving to be the correct choice as the rain continued, the 19-year-old ledaway at the start and aimed to smoothly bed his way into the conditions. Atthe second part of the Fogarty Esses though, Magnussen tagged the right-rearof the South American's car pitching him into a wild multiple spin.Thankfully avoided by those following immediately behind, Felipe retainedgreat composure and set off again - now down in 10th position. The remainderof the race proved difficult, with the Brasilia native having to battle backfrom a couple of other moments, but he took the chequered flag in 10thposition and this became ninth post-race when Harry Tincknell received apenalty."It's disappointing to lose the chance of another win", said the champion,"You need to be patient sometimes and Kevin wasn't. I was in the lead andhad the line for the chicane, there's one line through there, he didn't backoff and stayed to the outside. So at the second part, the right-hand turn,he kept his car there and hit my rear wheel and the sidepod - I spunstraightaway."Sunday's earlier race, round 26, required a monumental performance fromFelipe as he started from the back of the grid due to a non-finish inSaturday's encounter. Unsurprisingly he starred, rising from 21st place intothe top 10 and also posting the fastest lap of the race.Although the track was damp and slippery, Felipe choose to gamble on runningslick tyres from the off to try and get the bonus point for the fastest lap.It worked out well and, given another three or four laps, the improvedconditions would have enabled him to possibly mount a podium challenge.Early on he had to be extremely careful as the track favoured the bulk ofthe grid which started on wet-weather tyres. By lap 10, Felipe's slicks wereable to begin providing him with the grip needed and on the very next tourhe posted the fastest lap of the race before bettering it on lap 13 with atime of 1m30.482 seconds (98.96mph)."It was quite a good option to go with slicks", said Felipe, "We knew wewouldn't have a chance to do anything on wets from the back so I preferredto take slicks and try and get fastest lap which we managed to do. If therewere a few more laps, maybe a podium could have been there but it was agreat race anyway. I really enjoyed coming through and to get past 300points was a great moment."Saturday afternoon's encounter, round 25, took place in the dry and beganwith Felipe sixth on the grid. Making a good start, he wasted no time inmoving into the top five. Close behind Magnussen going into the hairpin onlap two, the champion moved to the inside to pass for fourth but as heheaded for the apex the door was slammed shut and the ensuing contact causeda puncture.Recovering to the pits, the Brazilian rejoined the race with a fresh tyreaiming to set the fastest lap, which he did, before parking the car in thegarage with no point in continuing being so far down the order.Unfortunately, his fastest lap was shaded - but that wasn't the biggestfrustration."I had a great car in the first race, I knew we could have a good result",he commented, "I tried to pass at the hairpin, I was on the inside but thenhe (Magnussen) locked the door when I was already there - what can I do?It's been a tough weekend but we had the pace, we just need to put this onebehind us and look forward to Silverstone"In other news, by taking pole position in qualifying Felipe also secured therequired points in the Sunoco Rolex 24 at Daytona Challenge to seal a prizedrive in the Daytona 24 Hours Race which will take place at the world-famousFlorida race track next January - a great bonus to add to the F3 title.
Just two weeks now remain until the final event of the British F3 season,rounds 28, 29 and 30, at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit in Northamptonshireover the weekend 8th/9th October.
Provisional 2011 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series Standings(after Rd27):CHAMPION - Felipe Nasr, 302pts