Mazepin secures reverse-grid victory on his debut
Ricky Collard made it two wins from three BRDC British Formula 3 Championship partnered by Duo races at Snetterton this weekend (6/7 August) as he dominated the third and final encounter in Norfolk, extending his lead in the overall standings to 15 points in the process. In the reverse-grid race earlier in the day, it was Collard’s Carlin team-mate Nikita Mazepin, making his BRDC British F3 debut, who took the chequered flag first with the Force India development driver recording his maiden single-seater success.
The sunshine returned to Norfolk on Sunday, along with some slightly stronger winds, with the second of two days of BRDC British F3 racing getting underway with the partially reversed-grid race two. Owing to his eighth-place finish in race one on Saturday, Russian racer Nikita Mazepin started from pole position with Fortec Motorsports’ Tarun Reddy for company on the front-row.
As the lights went out, Reddy made a strong start and challenged Mazepin into the first turn at Riches. He was briefly able to pull ahead but the Russian held strong and turning into Wilson, was able to maintain the lead. Further back, Harrison Scott, making his second BRDC British F3 appearance of the year, made a great getaway and he was able to pass Douglas Motorsport’s Thomas Randle for third.
After the opening two laps, Mazepin built a lead of nearly one-second over Reddy, as the Indian began to come under pressure from Scott in third. Fastest laps were traded back and forth but Mazepin managed to maintain a comfortable gap as Scott struggled to get close enough to Reddy to attempt an overtake.
At the halfway point of the race, the order of the front five remained the same but sixth-placed man Aleksanteri Huovinen was coming under pressure from his Double R Racing team-mate Matheus Leist. On lap nine, the Brazilian found a way past the Finn and he took the position, with his title rival Ricky Collard in eighth. Collard however followed the example of Leist and on lap 11, he also overtook Huovinen to limit the damage done by his nemesis in the overall standings.
Up front, Mazepin opened his lead to nearly two seconds as Harrison Scott closed on the back of Reddy. On occasions it looked like he might be able to mount an attack but the HHC Motorsport man couldn’t quite manage it. Carlin’s Mazepin completed the final few laps without incident and after 16 tours of the Snetterton 300 circuit, took his first-ever single-seater win 1.976s clear of Reddy, with Scott rounding out the podium in third.
Mazepin said: “It is quite a big day for me! It has been a challenging weekend, starting off a little bit behind on Thursday. Most of the guys here are on their penultimate round so have a lot more experience so I have had to get my head together and really push. With reverse-grid pole I was able to pull away and I think I had strong pace anyway. It is a great experience, a great championship and a great track so I am just really happy at the moment.”
With just nine points separating Brit Ricky Collard from Brazilian Matheus Leist in the overall standings at that stage, it was set up perfectly for race three with the duo lining up on the front-row with the Carlin man on pole position by virtue of setting the fastest lap from across the first two races. Ben Hingeley started third for HHC Motorsport with his team-mate Harrison Scott alongside him on the second row.
As the lights went out, it was Leist who made the better getaway and Collard was forced to move to the inside to cover off the Double R Racing man. He managed to do so and maintain his lead as the field turned into Riches for the first time. Further back, Enaam Ahmed made a strong start in his Douglas Motorsport machine and he passed Scott to take fourth.
Collard opened up a sizeable lead of 1.344s on the opening lap but Leist reeled him back in on the second tour. Crossing the line separated by just 0.210s, it looked like the Brazilian would be able to attack for the lead but the Hampshire racer responded and re-opened the gap to nearly two seconds on the next circuit.
The race began to settle down at the front but race two winner Nikita Mazepin was busy making progress, as he overtook Tarun Reddy to claim eighth. At the halfway stage, Collard and Leist began trading fastest laps but the first-placed man was able to push the lead over two seconds and looked comfortable up front. Meanwhile, third-placed driver Ben Hingeley was beginning to fall into the clutches of Enaam Ahmed and with four laps to go, he had to look in his mirrors to cover the Douglas Motorsport driver.
Ahmed came close on occasions down the Bentley Straight to attempting a move, showing his nose to the HHC Motorsport man numerous times, but he couldn’t quite close up enough to make a bid for the final podium spot. Collard meanwhile was untroubled up front and completed the final few laps without incident to take his second BRDC British F3 win of the weekend and fifth of the season.
Behind Collard, Leist took second with Hingeley claiming his maiden BRDC British F3 podium in third.
After the race, Collard said: It’s been one of those weekends where everything has fallen into place perfectly. People have been asking how we’ve done it but there isn’t just one thing, it is an accumulation of things and both the team and I haven’t folded under the pressure.
“There is another weekend to go though and another three races so that is actually quite scary! Hopefully we can be there right at the end. I don’t know how I am going to keep calm until then but I am going on holiday tomorrow and I will spend my time, not being unfocused, but taking my mind off it for a little bit.”
With victory, Ricky Collard now holds a 15-point advantage over Matheus Leist as the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship heads to Donington Park for the final round of the year on September 10/11. Thomas Randle is now 51 points adrift of Collard in third, with Toby Sowery a further 11 points adrift in fourth.
BRDC British Formula 3 - Snetterton - Race Two Top-10
1. Nikita Mazepin, Carlin, 16 Laps2. Tarun Reddy, Fortec Motorsports, +1.976s3. Harrison Scott, HHC Motorsport, +2.293s4. Thomas Randle, Douglas Motorsport, +3.247s5. Toby Sowery, Lanan Racing, +4.010s6. Matheus Leist, Double R Racing, +6.638s7. Ricky Collard, Carlin, +9.258s8. Aleksanteri Huovinen, Double R Racing, +14.117s9. Enzo Bortoleto, Double R Racing, +18.286s10. Eugene Denyssen, Sean Walkinshaw Racing, +24.819s
BRDC British Formula 3 - Snetterton - Race Three Top-10
1. Ricky Collard, Carlin, 16 Laps2. Matheus Leist, Double R Racing, +1.533s3. Ben Hingeley, HHC Motorsport, +13.022s4. Enaam Ahmed, Douglas Motorsport, +13.282s5. Harrison Scott, HHC Motorsport, +13.817s6. Thomas Randle, Douglas Motorsport, +14.811s7. Toby Sowery, Lanan Racing, +15.467s8. Nikita Mazepin, Carlin, +16.050s9. Tarun Reddy, Fortec Motorsports, +17.003s10. Quinlan Lall, Chris Dittmann Racing, +17.781s
2016 BRDC British Formula 3 Standings after race 21 of 24
1. Ricky Collard, Carlin, 438 points2. Matheus Leist, Double R Racing, 423 points3. Thomas Randle, Douglas Motorsport, 387 points4. Toby Sowery, Lanan Racing, 376 points5. Enaam Ahmed, Douglas Motorsport, 288 points6. Lando Norris, Carlin, 247 points7. Tarun Reddy, Fortec Motorsports, 246 points8. Aleksanteri Huovinen, Double R Racing, 223 points9. Enzo Bortoleto, Double R Racing, 220 points10. Thomas Maxwell, Sean Walkinshaw Racing, 214 points