DRIVER NEWS: Sam Bird (20, Claygate) has retained his 6th place in the Lloyds TSB Insurance British International F3 series despite a very disappointing weekend at Donington Park.
Free practice last Thursday saw him in an unrepresentative 8th place, while his Carlin team-mates also struggled to get to grips with the set up for the Leicestershire circuit where Sam holds a lap record in Formula Renault.
“we had to change the set up in time for Saturday’s qualifying” said Sam “but we still didn’t get it right, so I qualified in 11th and 9th places for the races on Sunday”. In Formula 3, qualifying is critical as is getting a good start. “Fortunately, I seem to be quite quick off the line” said Sam “so I am hoping this will be the case and I can grab back a few places”.
In the first race, he did indeed make a good start, putting him up to 7th place, but another fast charger went wide, forcing Sam onto the grass. He recovered but was back into 12th. During the closing laps of the race, Sam was able to overtake two of these to claim a championship point for 10th place.
The second race saw a few drops of rain, but certainly not enough for the teams to swap to wet tyres, although the track was slippery. Again, from the start Sam progressed from his 9th slot, but a series of incidents included a clip on his rear tyre, spinning him 360 degrees and dropping him to 23rd! An amazing drive through the pack brought Sam back to where he started in 9th place by the end of the race.
“Naturally I’m disappointed not to have gone further up the order” he said afterwards “but at least I was able to salvage some points and prove that overtaking in F3 is possible. I found the pace and was determined to retain my position in the championship table, which I have done. I’m really looking forward to the next round, which is a street race in Bucharest in May. It will be my first street race and although some of my rivals have done several, it will be the first time at Bucharest for all of us, so it should be a level playing field”