It was business as usual in the picturesque Belgium countryside, with Championship leader Linus Lundqvist taking his fifth victory of the year, as the British F3 championship returned from a summer break…
The Swedish teenage-ace claimed victory by 0.495 seconds from pole sitter Tom Gamble with Krishnaraaj Mahadik seeing out the podium finishers. There was drama before we’d ever begun with 13th-placed Frenchman, Tristan Charpentier, having all his qualifying times annulled for not respecting Parc Ferme procedure. The Fortec driver was therefore demoted to the back of the grid for race one.
Manuel Maldonado held third for most the race before Mahadik’s late move, while championship challenger Nicolai Kjaergaard climbed from 12th on the grid to take fifth, the Dane continuing his dominance in overtaking. Billy Monger left it late to secure sixth place ahead of Kush Maini, with Jusuf Owega, Sun Yue Yang and Sasakorn Chaimongkol completing the rest of the top ten.
Maldonado made the best start to take the lead before quickly being passed by Gamble and then Lundqvist, the Swede fishing back from fourth after getting bogged down at the start. Gamble held a lead of just under four tenths crossing the line at the end of lap one, but Lundqvist found his way into the lead on the second lap. However, everyone’s hard work was undone as Douglas Motorsport’s new recruit Max Defourny crashed heavily at the top of Raidillon. Defourny had broken his wing towards the end of the previous lap and the resulting loss of downforce resulted in the accident. Thankfully he was able to walk away from the car unaided proving local knowledge counts for nothing in this game.
As the safety car was deployed straight away, Lundqvist lead Gamble and Maldonado, who was clinging onto third. The accident was dealt with quickly and racing resumed on lap four, with Lundqvist steaming away and leaving us in no doubt that he means to continue the second half of the season as he did the first. Gamble dipped and ducked behind the championship leader, claiming the fastest lap of the race in the process – but he wasn’t able to convert yesterday’s pole into a race victory. Lundqvist extends his lead at the top of the standings to 72 points over Kjaergaard.
Mahadik’s third place – his second podium of the year – was the result of a gutsy effort. The Indian star started seventh and passed Maldonado for third on lap six to secure his podium.
Billy Monger, who was never far from the action, claimed sixth and finished over two and a half seconds clear of Kush Maini who had to fend off Jusuf Owega in the closing stages.
Owega was another driver in the thick of it, starting from eighth and dropping to 12th on lap two. He made amends with a textbook move past Jamie Chadwick and struggling newcomer Ayrton Simmons on lap four. Sun Yue Yang was next on lap six and finally another newcomer, Jamie Caroline, on lap seven to claim eighth – back where he started the day…
The action wasn’t done there with Yang also going round the houses on his way to ninth, falling to 12th on lap one before fighting his way back up the grid. Jamie Caroline, who enjoyed spells in the top-10 before being passed by Chaimongkol on the penultimate lap, was the highest finishing newcomer.
Simmons started fourth and ran inside the top-10 in the early stages, doing a world of good for the new boy’s confidence. Sadly, he suffered damage on the restart lap while attempting to pass Caroline and was forced to pit for repairs.
Of his fifth victory of the year, Lundquvist said:
“We’re just over halfway through the season, so a lot of things can happen but I’m just focused on trying to get the best results possible. Today we could fight for the win and was able to get it. The car has been mega throughout and now to get the win, and give this one back to the boys who have been working very hard for this, feels very good.”
“Maldonado was actually leading out of turn one and Krishnaraaj was ahead of me going into Eau Rouge, but then I got a run on him through the middle of Eau Rouge and was then able to get past Maldonado at Les Combes. Then, the lap after, I was able to get the tow on Gamble down the Kemmel straight and took the lead, and was able to build a bit of a gap in sector two. I was very happy with it because I gave it my all and then the safety car came out and I was like, ‘Oh, man!’ But I got a decent restart and then it was like that with every lap, as he was getting the tow through sectors one and three,. I tried to pull a bit of a gap in sector two where he was lacking a bit of downforce that I had, and I’m very happy with the win.”
Race two of the weekend starts at 11:50 local time tomorrow.
BRDC British F3 Championship, Spa Francorchamps race one result:
1. Linus Lundqvist, Double R Racing, 8 laps
2. Tom Gamble, Fortec Motorsports, +0.495s
3. Krishnaraaj Mahadik, Double R Racing, +3.229s
4. Manuel Maldonado, Fortec Motorsports, +4.206s
5. Nicolai Kjaergaard, Carlin, +6.386s
6. Billy Monger, Carlin, +7.259s
7. Kush Maini, Lanan Racing, +9.924s
8. Jusuf Owega, Hillspeed, +10.331s
9. Sun Yue Yang, Carlin, +11.831s
10. Sasakorn Chaimongkol, Hillspeed, +12.647s
11. Jamie Caroline, Carlin, +12.754s
12. Jamie Chadwick, Douglas Motorsport, +14.901s
13. Pavan Ravishankar, Double R Racing, +15.037s
14. Josh Mason, Lanan Racing, +21.210s
15. Arvin Esmaeili, Douglas Motorsport, +21.591s
16. Tristan Charpentier, Fortec Motorsports, +1m02.868s
17. Ben Hurst, Hillspeed, +1m34.299s
18. Ayrton Simmons, Chris Dittmann Racing, +1m39.791s
DNF. Max Defourny, Douglas Motorsport, +7 laps