They form half of Carlin’s International Class team, and represent different sides of the globe in their first season in the British F3 International Series. But what is it that brings young drivers such as Jaime Alguersuari and Sam Abay from all over the world to British F3 and to Carlin Motorsport? Speaking to the F3 rookies after testing at Silverstone, it’s clear that Carlin’s British F3 squad has a lot to offer…..
Are you looking forward to any track in particular this season?
Abay - Donington. I’m looking forward to Donington, but it’s the last race of the season unfortunately! And Spa will be incredible.
Alguersuari – Yeah Spa will be good. Have you been there?
Abay – No. Only on Playstation!
Alguersuari – Yeah Spa is really nice. I think Oulton Park will be good too, I’ve been there with Carlin in testing, and it’s a really nice circuit, going up hill and down hill.
Abay – You like Oulton?
Alguersuari – Yeah, it’s the kind of circuit I like, it’s almost like Spa.
Abay – Brands is ok. I’ve never driven on the Grand Prix circuit though, just the Indy circuit.
Alguersuari – We’re going to be driving on the Grand Prix circuit.
Abay – No we’re not. Are we?
Alguersuari – Yeah, we are. I was looking at the circuit map with Gaz [Carlin Team Manager] and it is the GP circuit.
Abay – Oh that will be good!
Why do drivers come to the UK to race?
Alguersuari – For me it’s quite special. The English tracks are quite different to the European ones. We have a lot of space and wide tracks and places where you can overtake. And if you go off you don’t hit anything. Here, it’s quite dangerous sometimes if you go off. I really liked Oulton Park - you’re racing so near the wall. You have to find the limit but you can’t really push a lot. It’s a nice feeling.
Abay – Yeah on the UK tracks you have to pick your overtaking manoeuvres. You can’t just pass anywhere. That’s why it’s better racing here than it is anywhere else in Europe. The tracks here have a lot of hidden cambers and different surface changes, bumps and you don’t really get that anywhere else.
Alguersuari – I think it’s a really good experience. In England, all the circuits are different; you learn a lot and have a lot of experiences in just one country. The tracks are quite difficult. One of the main reasons I came here was because it’s a good championships, and also because of the tracks. It’s very competitive.
You’ve both moved up from Formula Renault and Formula BMW. What do you think of the F3 cars?
Abay – The cars are fantastic. It’s a proper little race car. It is such a good category for drivers and for engineers as well. You can really experiment with the cars and make them your own.
Alguersuari – Yeah for me it’s really useful, because it’s very different from Formula Renault, as you can’t do much with the cars there. Even the driving style is different, here you have to cut into the corner very fast, the car has a lot of downforce, especially in the fast corners. You have to drive very smoothly and as Sam was saying you can work on set up much more than in most series. It’s much freer in terms of the set up changes you can make than championships of a similar level.
Abay – Yeah, there’s much more things to learn from, that’s why so many drivers choose to do F3. And of course Carlin has a wind tunnel as well. I’d like to learn a bit more about that.
Alguersuari –I think we can be really fast this year. For sure we still need to learn a lot, but I’m really looking forward to the first few races.
Abay- This year my aim is to learn as much as I possibly can, to prepare myself. If I can come out of this year knowing 20 per cent more than I do now, that’s a big achievement as there’s a lot to learn on these cars.
There’s a lot of talented drivers this year in British F3. Who do you see as your main competition?
Abay- There’s a lot of first year drivers, such as me, Jaime, Brendon, Oliver and Marcus [Ericsson], the second year drivers aren’t necessarily always ahead of us. That’s a good sign of how competitive the season is this year.
Alguersuari – I think the field is very young this year. Last year everyone had a lot of experience, a lot of races under their belt. This year, everyone has less experience but is still very fast. That’s why it will be a good championship. I think you will see more variety in races this year, more drivers winning. The podiums will not be the same every race. I think it will make a nice championship.
Abay – Even last year in Formula BMW there were so many different winners. I think it will be the same in British F3 this year.
Carlin probably has one of the strongest driver line-ups in the series this year, do you all get on or is it very competitive within the team?
Abay – We’re mates off the track but on track we’re racing against each other.
Alguersuari – You learn something from everyone. You see different styles of driving, different philosophy, and you always learn something. Every test I do in England – I’m learning something new. It’s a steep learning curve and testing has been very competitive in terms of lap times, and that’s also why it will be a big challenge this year. For me it’s important to have a team where you can learn so much. That’s quite important.
Abay – And we’ve all been quickest at some stage throughout testing.
Alguersuari – Yeah all four Carlin international cars have been quickest.
Abay – It’s not always been one driver. Amongst the Carlin drivers it’s been like, Oliver is quick there, but Jaime is quick there, and putting it all together we all have the opportunity to learn something. Maybe we’ll have some 1-2-3-4 finishes this season!
Alguersuari – I see the other teams, and you don’t know what they’re doing with their cars in testing, some are fast one day, but the next day they’re nowhere. It’s important to be consistent. There’s a long season ahead of us. There’s a lot of testing to do, a lot of racing, I think its going to be a good year.