The BRDC British F3 season is nearly here with the championship starting at Brands Hatch this weekend. With new teams and drivers lining their cars up on the grid for the first race of the season, we look at what the year ahead could have in store.
It’s going to be hard not to mention the COVID-19 pandemic this season as it altered last year’s championship dramatically. With the start of the season being postponed to May, many wondered if we would be able to get back to the full race weekend experience. But finally, after a year-long wait, there will be crowds back at Brands Hatch this weekend watching the British F3 championship unfold. With 19 cars lining the grid, we have an exciting championship ahead of us.
A new year, a new grid of drivers:
2021 brings some promising drivers to the championship. With last year’s winner, Kaylen Frederick currently in FIA F3, there is promise for drivers finishing this season at the top. Over half of this year’s grid are rookies, looking to fight their way through the championship.
This season sees last year’s team champions, Carlin, with a full rookie lineup. Zac O’Sullivan joins the team as the 2020 British F4 runner up, standing on the podium 18 times last season. He will be joined by Australian driver Christian Mansell who also graduates from the British F4 championship and American driver Bryce Aron who will be hoping to follow in Kaylen Fredericks footsteps.
Whereas the British outfit, Chris Dittmann Racing have three returning drivers completing their lineup this year. With all three having raced for the team previously. Alex Fores is looking to perform to the best of his abilities in the opening stages of the season, as he has only been confirmed for the opening rounds of the championship due to funding. The brit raced with the team in the second half of the season in 2020 showing strong race pace in his first time in the car. He will be joining confirmed divers for the season, Max Marzorati and Ayrton Simmons who came third in the British F3 standings in 2019.
Speaking on the upcoming season, Alex has said: “I’m really looking forward to the Brands Hatch BRDC British F3 weekend with Chris Dittmann Racing, and I can’t wait to get going. My relationship with the team goes back to the end of 2019 and last year was really strong, so I’m hoping that can continue if I’m fortunate enough to secure funding for the full season.”
Image credit: @CDR_F3RaceTeam
Hitech GP is another team to have returning drivers in Bart Horsten and Reece Ushijima. Australian driver, Bart Horsten, previously raced with Lanan Racing and finished the championship in 10th place. Reece Ushijma will continue with the team for a second season after finishing in 11th. Their rookie driver, Sebastian Alvarez, finished the British F4 season with 19 podiums, three pole positions and five fastest laps.
This season also sees trailblazer, Reema Juffali, join the championship. Not only is she the only female to be announced for this year, but she is also the first-ever Saudi Arabian woman to hold a race licence to compete both at home and abroad. She has had a groundbreaking career so far competing in British F4, Formula 2000, F4 UAE and more. Juffali will compete alongside Brit Dexter Patterson with Douglas motorsport this year.
“I’m looking forward to taking this next step of my career with Douglas Motorsport. I felt right at home with the team during the test and really enjoyed driving the British F3 car. I can’t wait to get behind the wheel again.” said Reema on the announcement of her seat in British F3.
Image credit: @BRDCBritishF3
Elite Motorsport is another team to have a full rookie lineup with Brit Tom Lebbon who will race in an open-wheel championship for the first time after taking the Ginetta Junor Championship. He will be joined by Javier Sagrera Pont and Jose Garfias who will both race in the UK for the first time.
Fortec were the last team on the grid to announce all drivers for this season with Mikkel Grundtvig being announced on 17th May and Oliver Bearman on the 18th May. Bearman will be competing with the British based outfit alongside his commitments to Italian and German Formula 4. He is also the only driver this season not to take part in the Brands Hatch pre-season testing. They will race alongside Roberto Faria who was announced at the end of last season.
Out with the old, in with the new:
2020 has seen a few new teams join the British F3 paddocks. We said goodbye to Lanan Racing at the end of 2020 after selling their cars to Elite Motorsport.
However, they are not the only team to join the paddock this year, as Arden Motorsport also announced at the end of 2020 that they would be on the grid this year. They will contest two cars with a full British lineup of Frederick Lubin and Alex Connor. Both undertook the British F4 Championship last year with Alex Connor finishing the season in fourth and Frederick Lubin as runner up in the Rookie Cup.
Hitech GP has also made some steps forward as they expand into three cars for this years season. Arden and JHR are the only two teams to contest two cars, whereas all other teams will contest with three.
Image credit: @ArdenMotorsport
There were multiple tests in the pre-season this year with the main testing taking place at Brands Hatch on Tuesday 13th May. It was the first time that teams could properly see their competition for the season ahead. Last year’s team championship winners, Carlin, came out on top with Zac O’Sullivan setting the fastest time of testing with a 1m 21.039 seconds. Christian Mansell was 0.462s behind his teammate, finishing in third and Bryce Aron was just 0.690s away from O’Sullivan finishing the day in fourth.
It was Hitech GP’s Bart Horsten, however, who split the top two Carlin Cars. Horsten had set the fastest time of the day before O’Sullivan set two fast flying laps in the last part of the final session. Behind Carlin and Horsten, Arden showed promise as a rookie team in the championship. Finishing fifth with Frederick Lunin and sixth with Alex Connor.
Complete Testing Results:
- Zak O’Sullivan, Carlin, 1m21.039s
- Bart Horsten, Hitech GP, +0.384s
- Christian Mansell, Carlin, +0.462s
- Bryce Aron, Carlin, +0.690s
- Frederick Lubin, Arden, +0.887s
- Alex Connor, Arden, +0.938s
- Dexter Patterson, Douglas Motorsport, +0.949s
- Alex Fores, Chris Dittmann Racing, +1.247s
- Tom Lebbon, Elite Motorsport, +1.344s
- Javier Sagrera, Elite Motorsport, +1.378s
- Roberto Faria, Fortec Motorsports, +1.657s
- Ayrton Simmons, Chris Dittmann Racing, +1.708s
- Jose Garfias, Elite Motorsport, +2.150s
- Reece Ushijima, Hitech GP, +2.524s
- Sebastian Alvarez, Hitech GP, +2.739s
- Max Marzorati, Chris Dittmann Racing, +3.153s
- Reema Juffali, Douglas Motorsport, +3.284s
- Mikkel Grundtvig, Fortec Motorsports, +3.300s
Credit: BRDC British F3
Image credit: @JakobEbrey
With the first race of the season taking place this weekend, it’s our first chance to see who is in the fight for the championship. We could see Zac O’Sullivan and his teammates take Carlin to the top for another year. Or could this be Hitech GP’s year with Bart Horsten, Sebastian Alvarez and Reece Ushijma lining up on the grid. Or even CDR’s Ayrton Simmons who could use previous experience in the series to storm through the grid.
The BRDC British F3 season starts this weekend at Brands Hatch. And will then visit Silverstone, Donington Park, Spa, Snetterton 200 and Oulton Park throughout the season.