With a double race win at Silverstone Marko Asmer has one hand firmly gripped onto the 2007 Lloyds TSB Insurance British F3 International Series title and a good points haul this weekend at Thruxton could see the young Estonian join the ranks of Ayrton Senna, Jackie Stewart and Mika Hakkinen as British F3 Champion.
Marko Asmer, with nine wins from sixteen starts, has been the dominant force this season but the 23-year-old from Tallinn has not had everything his own way, with a rare mistake in practice at Spa giving his rivals a glimmer of hope that he could be caught before the seasons end. However with a perfect weekend of two poles, two wins and two fastest laps at Silverstone, the Hitech Racing star driver has reasserted his authority.
Carlin Motorsport’s Maro Engel is the nearest championship rival but the German driver is currently 84 points adrift of Asmer. Wins at Oulton Park and Monza, along with four further podium finishes, have demonstrated that Engel has a bright future as he progresses through the motorsport ranks but inconsistent points scoring has hampered his overall championship charge.
Engel’s Carlin team mate, Sam Bird has been one the star ‘finds’ during the 2007 season. The Formula Renault graduate has taken wins on the streets of Bucharest and at Spa and six further podium finishes. Bird has consistently put drivers with a lot more racing experience in the shade, with the driver from Claygate scoring points in every round bar one this year.
Stephen Jelley is a man on a mission, looking to score his first British F3 win before the season ends next month. The driver from Leicester has proved his speed, scoring podium finishes, pole positions and fastest laps in 2007 but the top step has just eluded him. Perhaps Thruxton will be the place where he breaks his duck.
Jelley’s Raikkonen Robertson Racing team mate Jonathan Kennard already knows what the view is like from the top of the podium, scoring his first win in the rain from pole position at Spa. A new lap record for the newly configured Spa Francorchamps circuit went to the driver from Kent and he will be looking to make up for a poor points haul from Silverstone two weeks ago.
Reigning UK Formula BMW Champion Niall Breen has surprised everyone with the way he has quickly adapted to Formula 3. A race win at Snetterton and two further second places were the reward for his hard work and like his Carlin team mate Sam Bird, the Irish driver has been a consistent points scorer in his rookie season. Expect him to be on the pace at Thruxton where he was a double race winner in Formula BMW last year.
2005 South American F3 Champion Alberto Valerio has had a bit of a ‘topsy-turvy’ season. With four podiums in five races at Bucharest, Snetterton and Monza the 21-year-old Brazilian seemed to be finding his feet within the Carlin Motorsport family. However a combination of mechanical problems and bad luck on track has cost him dearly but a 5th place in the last race at Silverstone helped put the smile back on Alberto’s face.
Reigning UK Formula Renault Champion Sebastian Hohenthal has adapted to the more powerful Formula 3 car with ease, breaking the F3 lap record at Oulton Park and winning at Brands Hatch after a race long battle with Marko Asmer and Atte Mustonen. However the Swede hasn’t faired so well in the last four races and will be looking to put things right on the ultra fast Thruxton circuit.
Finland’s Atte Mustonen has been quick right from the start of the year but it is only in the last few races that the 18-year-old has been able to translate his pace into podium finishes.
The final driver in the top 10 is Greg Mansell, the younger son of F1 World Champion Nigel Mansell. Greg, and older brother Leo, who are only in their second full season of racing, have been steadily gaining experience throughout the year but it is Greg who has shown the way with a podium finish in only his 5th Formula 3 race and a second podium at Silverstone last time out. The Mansell boys made their British F3 debut at Thruxton last year, so expect to see them translate this knowledge into good grid and finishing positions.
Just outside the top ten is the Ultimate Mygale of Michael Devaney. The Mygale F3 chassis is brand new this year and in the hands of the Irish A1GP racer, and his Argentine team mate Esteban Guerrieri, it has been developed into a consistent points scorer. Fastest lap in Bucharest and a top three grid slot at Silverstone for Devaney has demonstrated the team’s potential and a podium finish surely beckons.
In the National Class for older Formula 3 chassis the battle for the title is a lot closer than the overall honours. T Sport’s Sergio Perez has taken the initiative with a double race win at Silverstone two weeks ago and now holds a 37 point advantage over rival ‘Frankie’ Cheng. However circuit knowledge at Thruxton may help the Chinese driver get back on terms with Perez. Bahrain’s Hamad Al Fardan has been a regular visitor to the podium, while Michael Meadows and Viktor Jensen have both been on the top step of podium in 2007.
Thruxton is a firm favourite with all the drivers and the low downforce circuit provides plenty of opportunity to overtake, especially into the final corner, which provided so much racing action in 2006.
For all the latest news, results, TV schedule and post race press conference interviews for the Lloyds TSB British F3 International Series visit the championship website at www.britishf3international.com