2007 has already seen the British F3 lap records at Oulton Park and Donington Park smashed and, if the recent test times are anything to go by, Richard Antinucci’s four year Snetterton lap record is set to go the same way when the world’s leading Formula 3 Championship visit the Norfolk circuit on Sunday 3rd June.
Improvements have been made in the 2007 Formula 3 chassis the teams use but the main difference is the new tyres that Avon has developed this season. In Round 1 at Oulton Park at Easter reigning UK Formula Renault Champion Sebastian Hohenthal (#5 Fortec Motorsport) set the fastest lap with a time of 1m29.491s, 0.438 seconds faster than Nelson Piquet Jnr’s 2004 lap. In the second race of the day Jonathan Kennard (#2 Raikkonen Robertson Racing) equalled Hohenthal’s time to the thousandth of a second.
Two weeks later at Donington Park Marko Asmer (#7 Hitech Racing) set the fastest lap of the weekend with a 1m01.594, 1.098 seconds faster than Ryan Lewis’ 2005 lap. Race 2 was slower than the first, but Sebastian Hohenthal was still 0.399 seconds inside the previous best lap on the 1.95 mile Donington National circuit.
David Hayle, Hitech Racing Team Principle: “Obviously the new Avon tyre is faster; everywhere we go we have seen faster lap times than we did last year. Avon have done a really good job with the tyre; had we have left it with their original spec it would probably be even better than it is now. Unfortunately we did have to change but the new tyre is more durable and the window of opportunity for doing a lap time is greater. One of the significant things is with the old tyre if you started a run and had to interrupt it, the tyre never came back as fast as it was, you would always lose one or two tenths. With this tyre you can just run and run and if you have an enforced delay you’ve still got a chance of doing a lap time. The new tyre is very different and is a huge improvement.”
Richard Dutton, Fortec Motorsport Team Principle: “We’re finding the tyre is quicker. Depending on the circuit but most probably three tenths of the time is down to the tyre. The tyre is lasting a lot longer and is more consistent; so Avon has improved the whole nature of the tyre and, while it is on the car, it is working better. The cars have also been developed over the winter, so the cars are going to be a little bit quicker as well. So I wouldn’t put everything down to the tyre but I would say the improvement in the lap times is around 70% down to the new Avon rubber.”
Julian Baldwin, Avon Tyres motorsport chief, and managing director of Avon’s parent company, Cooper Tire Europe: “The 2007 season is a major landmark for our association with the British F3 championship, which has produced drivers of the calibre of Ayrton Senna, Mika Hakkinen and Jenson Button. “But the searing pace that the series’ drivers have set in the first race meetings of the season show that we are by no means getting complacent with our development process. We strive every day to develop our racing tyres further, giving competitors the kind of quality and grip they need to produce stunning performances like this.”
In a recent test at Snetterton 24 of 31 drivers posted a time that was faster than the existing Formula 3 lap record for the Norfolk track. Championship leader Marko Asmer set the quickest time of the 2-day test with a 60.643 second lap, 1.769 seconds inside Richard Antinucci’s existing record.
Rounds 7 and 8 of the 2007 Lloyds TSB Insurance British F3 International Series will take place at Snetterton on Sunday 3rd June. The event will also feature Round 5 of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship, as well as full support race package.