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22 SEPTEMBER 28 2011 motorsport-news.co.uk

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F3/GT REPORT: DONINGTON PARK

Rob Ladbrook watched Kevin Magnussen take a controversial win

IN BRIEF

Nasr’s prize lap Felipe Nasr left it late to secure pole position for the feature race at Donington Park. The Brazilian’s time of 1m 23.012s (107.86mph) was set on his penultimate flying lap and only just edged out Carlin team-mate Jack Harvey. The Englishman came close to stealing top spot late on but Kotaro Sakurai crashed at the Old Hairpin late in the session and brought out the red flags. Nasr’s time also established the series’ lap record for the remodelled Donington Park GP loop and netted Nasr the Sunoco Daytona Challenge prize (see Racing News) for the season.

Bottas is back Newly crowned GP3 Series champion Valtteri Bottas returned to Formula Three at Donington Park last weekend with the Double R team. Bottas contested the races at the Derbyshire track as a warm-up for the annual Macau GP in November, where he finished third last season. “I love driving F3 cars much more than GP3 cars, they’re more fun through the corners,” said Bottas. “They lack pace on the straights but they have so much more downforce that you can carry so much speed into turns, so they’re very aggressive. I’m desperate to do Macau again because I want to win it. The deal is almost there, but not quite yet.” Bottas won the reversed-grid second race in his first outing at Donington since his Formula Renault Winter Series run in 2007.

Idafar put back Menasheh Idafar was slapped with a time penalty following the opening race at Donington Park for avoidable contact. The British-born Bahraini was fighting with Pipo Derani for eighth when he tipped the Brazilian into a spin with an ill-judged move at the Melbourne Hairpin. Idafar crossed the line seventh but was handed a 3.5second penalty, which dropped him to 11th- one place behind Derani.

Carlin’s rivals Carlin head Trevor Carlin played down the rivalry between champion Felipe Nasr and Kevin Magnussen after their controversial clashes at Donington Park. Nasr and Magnussen collided in races one and three. Carlin said: “We’ve got two extremely fast, talented drivers in the team who have had contrasting fortunes and each think they have a point to prove. If it had been anyone other than Kevin, Felipe probably wouldn’t have tried that move in race one and perhaps Kevin’s move was a little bit of tit for tat. There’s no bad blood between them, each just wants to be the fastest driver in the team.”

Rookie no class Kotaro Sakurai was crowned as the British F3 Rookie Class champion, despite only finishing one race at Donington Park. Sakurai was the sole entrant into the class after Bart Hylkema’s graduation to the International section and Luca Orlandi withdrawing after one round. Sakurai finished race one in 19th and last place. He then crashed out of the final two outings.

Sims no show Alexander Sims will not join the British Formula Three International Series grid at Silverstone on October 8/9. The Briton, who has been a title challenger in the GP3 Series with the Status Grand Prix team, was close to a deal to race for the Sino Vision team but talks have fallen through.

A GREAT DANE INBRITISH

Donington Park should have been a weekend of celebration for Felipe Nasr. After clinching the British F3 title last time out at Rockingham, the triple-header in Derbyshire would have made a dream lap of honour for the new champion. But it turned out to bemore of a nightmare.

Two altercations with team-mate Kevin Magnussen and a poor tyre choice meant that Nasr picked up only a handful of points from the three races. The Brazilian’s misfortune meant that others got the chance to shine. Rupert Svendsen-Cook picked up his second win of the year, while Valtteri Bottas grabbed awin on his return to the series andMagnussen took a controversial victory in the longer race three.

return for a handful of flying laps. He stayed out just long enough to dip under Nasr’s benchmark to claim the bonus point for fastest lap before he too threw in the towel. Unsurprisingly, he didn’t agree with Nasr’s version of events. Ahead, Svendsen-Cook was in complete control. He gradually edged clear of Huertas to take the win. “The car was supreme,” he said. “I had complete confidence in it for the whole race and was in total control. It was the perfect way to win a race.” Harvey regrouped to latch onto Huertas mid-race but struggled to get close enough to make amove in the Colombian’s dirty air. He eventually faded back into the clutches of Pye, who thrived once hewas released by Magnussen’s misfortune. The Australian thought he had the pace for pole, were it not for a self-inflicted mistake at the chicane on his final flying lap. He comfortably shook off Jazeman Jaafar in fifth, but couldn’t find away past Harvey to make it onto the podium.

F3 DONINGT ON PA RK RO UNDS 25,26,27

Race one Svendsen-Cook was one of the stars of qualifying and topped the timesheets for the second-best lap time. Hemade the most of the pole position during the first race to take his second win of the year with a comfortable lights-to-flag drive.

The Brit leapt off the line to lead the pack through Redgate. Behind Svendsen-Cook, both fourth-placed Carlos Huertas and sixth placed Scott Pye got blinding starts and both bore down onMagnussen, whose getaway wasn’t quite as fluid. Magnussen jinked right to block Pye, but in doing so opened the door for Huertas to sneak past both himself and Jack Harvey into turn one. Huertas emerged in second place ahead of Harvey, Magnussen and newly crowned champe Nasr, who had vaulted past Pye after the Australian was forced to lift to avoid hitting Magnussen’s Dallara.

Ironically, Magnussen’s defence against Pye provided one of the highlights of the race as it pitched him into an early battle with Nasr, whose second fastest time was only good enough for sixth. Nasr andMagnussen have had contrasting years: both have been closely matched on pace, but while things have gone swimmingly for the Brazilian, Magnussen’s season has been blighted with technical issues and plain ill fortune. Magnussen defended solidly from Nasr for the opening lap, before Nasr launched a late braking move into the Melbourne Hairpin on lap two, which was perhaps a little too late...

“I had a run on Kevin and braked later than him and he came across me trying to defend, even though I was on the inside,” said Nasr after clipping the rearright corner of Magnussen and skating through the gravel.

That left Nasr nursing a left-front puncture, which he pitted to correct at the end of the lap. It left him stone last, but he rejoined for one flying lap to set the fastest lap of the race before returning to the pits to retire.

Things weren’t much better for Magnussen. The contact deflated his rear-right Cooper and he too pitted, only to

Magnussen survived Nasr hit in race three

Race two F3 returnee Valtteri Bottas was a solid if low-key sixth in race one, but the wet conditions of the reversed-grid sprint race gave him the chance to shine.

The GP3 Series champion felt that the Carlin team’s set-up gave its cars a distinct edge in dry conditions, but when a shower soaked the grid before race two, Bottas showed that Double R’s cars are more than amatch in the wet.

Bottas got a great start from third on the grid to scythe between both Harry Tincknell and poleman William Buller, and immediately pulled out a one-second lead by the time the pack reached the Old Hairpin. With Bottas romping clear out front, Buller was left with his mirrors full of Bottas’ team-mate Pye. Double R’s set-up was kinder on its wet Coopers and when Fortec pilot Buller began searching out the wet lines in an effort to not overheat his rubber, Pyemade his move.

Pye dived up the inside of Buller into the Melbourne Hairpin on lap seven, delaying both cars in the process. Tincknell had kept awatching brief on the pair and took the chance to slip past for second as they struggled for traction out of the corner, but Buller regrouped to snatch second again into Redgate.

The order was shuffled further when Pye clipped Tincknell into McLeans while fighting for third. Tincknell slid sideways but recovered to fifth, but Pye was forced to pit for a deflating left-front tyre. “It’s irritating because I knowwe had the pace in the wet,” said Pye. “If I’d have got past Will we definitely could have had a one-two for Double R.”

The contact opened the door for Menasheh Idafar to slip into third. The T-Sport racer excelled in the wet conditions to surge up from 11th on the grid to snatch the final podium place, and he ended the race almost alongside

Buller for second. But neither managed to match the relentless

Bottas sw ept ri va ls aside in damp spr int ra ce

Svendsen-Cook stormed to race one win from pole pace of Bottas, whowonby the length of the pit straight. “I pushed hard at the start and the fighting behind let me escape,” he said. “It was easy after that. I looked for a few wet patches to cool the tyres in the final laps but they still felt fine. I was just being cautious.”

Things weren’t so straightforward for Nasr andMagnussen. Nasr gambled on slicks at the start and climbed from the back of the grid to tenth place, setting the fastest lap when a dry line finally emerged. Magnussen swapped to wets for the formation lap, but then changed his mind and started on slicks from the pitlane and finished way back in 16th.

Race three The final outing should have been Nasr’s chance to clean up. After two torrid races, Nasr lined up in his familiar pole position for the 40-minute wet encounter. A light shower started as the cars formed up and the top six opted to start on wets: a good call as the rain intensified during the green flag lap. Half the field peeled into the pits to switch for wets, leaving only ten cars to start the race from the grid. Magnussen got the best start to grab second place from Harvey into Redgate. That put Magnussen behind Nasr, and again prompted fireworks. Magnussen drafted up to the rear of Nasr into the Fogarty Esses and as the two ran together into the corner there was contact and Nasr was sent spinning. “There wasn’t much vision with the spray,” said Magnussen. “We went into the corner together, touched, and he spun across me.”

While Magnussen recovered to chase new leader Harvey and second-placed Svendsen-Cook, Nasr plummeted down the order to tenth. That incident would be the first of many for Nasr and he suffered two more unaided spins in the slippery conditions. At the front, Magnussen reeled in Harvey, eventually grabbing the top spot when Svendsen-Cook ran off the road at Goddards and Harvey left the door open into the Esses on lap nine.

From then on Magnussen was untouchable and streaked clear for the win. “There was a lot of standing water, which made things difficult,” he said. “My main aim is wins. I want to be the most winning driver – it means more to me than second in the points.” Harvey was pitched into a fight for second with Pipo Derani, who was again displaying Double R’s impressive wet weather pace. Derani piled the pressure onto the Racing Steps driver, but a battle ended prematurely when Harvey’s engine let go with four laps to run. “I got a warning light on the dash and it lost power so I parked it, I’m gutted,” said Harvey after stepping from his stricken car. Derani took second, his best British F3 result to date, ahead of SvendsenCook, Carlos Huertas and Pye. Nasr, meanwhile, was left to rue what could have been as he trailed home in ninth to complete a weekend to forget. Having already sealed the title, perhaps getting it in the bag at Rockingham could prove to have been a much wiser move than was first thought... ■