Alex Lynn starred in the European Formula 3 Open Winter Series at Paul Ricard in France by finishing on the podium in both races on his F3 debut.
Lynn, the reigning Formula Renault UK champion, charged from seventh on the grid to second in his very first F3 race. He then backed that up with third place later in the day to become the only driver to finish on the podium in both races.
The 18-year-old from Essex is contesting this year’s British Formula 3 International Series with Fortec Motorsport, and elected to compete in the European F3 Open Winter Series with Team West-Tec in order to gain competitive track time and get experience of the Paul Ricard circuit, which is on this year’s British F3 schedule.
The opening round of the Winter Series was supposed to take place in mid-February at the Algarve circuit, but after Lynn had qualified seventh the race was postponed due to technical problems.
The grid positions were deferred to Paul Ricard, and Alex wasted little time in making up places. “It was pandemonium!” he said. “There was a lot of fun and games and loads of overtaking. I was on very low-downforce settings, while some others had bigger wings, so people were quicker in different parts of the track. Because of that, you really had to think hard in your racing.
“I was just towing people left, right and centre to get ahead, picked up the pieces from incidents in front of me, and moved up to second. I got to within about a second of the leader but then the safety car came out and that ruined it for me – he was able to pull out a gap at the restart.”
Lynn took second on the grid for the other race after a strong day of testing on Friday and an impressive qualifying session on Saturday morning.
“During testing we really concentrated on getting the car right before putting on new tyres – we didn’t bother paying any attention to what anyone else was doing,” he said. “That really paid off because we ended up with a really good set-up for qualifying.
“Unfortunately I made a really bad start and dropped to sixth, but it was a really hectic race and I caught the three who were battling for the lead. Then at halfway the rear tyres really started going away.”
Lynn was delighted with the weekend in general: “I’m over the moon. We came here to learn the track and get back into the rhythm. You always want to win races and although that didn’t happen I’m really happy with what I’ve learned. I got two very solid results. It's going to be a tough season this year and I want to prepare as thoroughly as possible – these races have been a great experience. I'd like to say a big Thank You to everyone at West-Tec for all their hard work over the last two events."
Fortec engineer Russell Dixon, who accompanied Lynn to the event, said: “It was good to work together with Alex for the first time on an F3 race weekend after our success in Formula Renault last year.
“The races were really good and it was nice to be battling. He had pressure from behind, and he also did a lot of pressurising and overtaking. It’s all good experience and this level of racing is where you need to learn all that. It’s been a good weekend.”
Alex now sets his sights on his British F3 pre-season testing programme with Fortec, which kicks off at Snetterton this week. The opening round of the championship is over the Easter weekend at Oulton Park in Cheshire.
Lynn was also recently selected for the second year running as part of the Team UK talent scheme of British motorsport’s governing body, the MSA. This represents another feather in his cap, which also includes his place on the FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy, as well as the British Racing Drivers Club’s SuperStars programme.