With the BRDC British F3 Media Day on Thursday, the cars were already in action at Donington Park as the F4 British Championship were also on display for their official test day.
Once again, it was Kiern Jewiss topping the time sheets in F4, with the Ginetta Junior Rookie Class champion still yet to be officially signed (though has an announcement due Wednesday morning). His performance has left him as the clear title favourite though with F4’s own Media Day approaching.
Unlike their counterpart, no times were released to the public for British F3, with it being an opportunity for the drivers to get accustom to their new teams before they hit the track in front of the public on Thursday.
As the rain came down during the Tuesday morning, times would not be entirely representative, but with Johnathan Hoggard putting in a lap during the closing minutes, going 0.352sec quicker than the opposition, the Fortec driver will take great solace in knowing he would set the initial benchmark. Hoggard remained in the top four all day, finishing third quickest overall.
While Jewiss comes out of the test as the most notable name, he was not leading a charge throughout it, as some might have expected. Seventh during the rainy session and last of the timed runners in the early afternoon will concern some, but these will likely be seen as anomalies, finishing second and first in the remaining two tests.
His teammates at Double R have both been confirmed recently, with Paavo Tonteri eighth of the thirteen runners, while Sebastian Alvarez had a tougher time, skipping the third session and ending tenth fastest.
Skipping sessions seemed perfectly normal to a number of drivers, with Jamie Sharp, who finished fourth at the Brands tests, barely putting in a representative time. The same could be said of Patrik Pasma who was again back out in the Arden, but second slowest, not putting in the performance of the front-runner we saw last season.
Another familiar face has returned to the paddock though, with JHR Developments fielding two drivers in the form of Manuel Sulaiman and Ayrton Simmons. The Mexican drove for them last season, having his season cut short due to commitments to the Mexican F4 Championship, where he won the rookie class, while Simmons could be entering his third season.
Should Simmons join the team, he may be an instant championship favourite, but questions will be raised should the series be won by such an experienced face. He was second overall behind Jewiss.
Meanwhile at the rest of Arden, Dennis Hauger finished as their best performing driver, even topping the middle two sessions. After a quiet opening test at Brands, the Red Bull backed driver might finally be coming into his own and could be a serious contender, though fellow RBJT member Jack Doohan skipped the final session having also announced yesterday he’ll be racing in the German and Italian Formula 4 Championships alongside his British campaign.
After a strong showing at Brands though, the biggest disappointment has been Seb Priaulx, the young Brit has shown little of what he’s capable of. The same assessment could also be made of Hampus Ericsson, though it’s likely both drivers were not focusing on fast lap times as they prepare for the season opener.
Rounding out the grid was Lucca Allen, who continues to get a grip with his new Fortec team after a car issue hampered his running.
BRDC British F3
With no official times posted, it’s impossible to tell what sort of pace the drivers were running, though Carlin, Fortec and Double R all appeared with 3 cars to showcase their progress and compare telemetry.
The biggest story of the day lies down at Carlin, with Billy Monger once again out in force. Monger’s continued involvement with the team raises questions on Carlin’s plan for the year ahead.
The team themselves have announced both Sun Yue Yang and Nicolai Kjaergaard, though during an interview with FormulaScout, Clement Novalak revealed he would fill the third seat at rounds which did not clash with his Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 commitments.
With Monger seeking a full-time return, filling in for the two clashing rounds would seem unrewarding, while Carlin, like all the British F3 teams should be limited to three cars per weekend.
With Novalak not shown to be present, this would suggest either a full-time drive has not materialised for him or one of his teammates, or Carlin will run a fourth car in 2018.
Last week the team were shown to be in control of at least four Tatuus-Cosworth’s.
— Carlin (@CarlinRacing) February 20, 2018
Though with only a limited number of Tatuus-Cosworth MSV F4-016’s ever produced, the latter opens up questions on whether other teams would be allowed, potentially stifling the smaller outfits of Stratton Motorsport and Chris Dittmann Racing, both of which have not signed a driver yet.
Elsewhere, pictures from the circuit show that Fortec, alongside Tristan Charpentier and Manuel Maldonado, gave an outing to Tom Gamble of Ginetta Junior fame.
— BRDC British F3 (@BRDCBritishF3) March 6, 2018
At Double R, the team was also fielding another car, though Motorsport Radio does not know the identity of the third driver, it is believed to be Krishnaraaj Mahadik, who won a race for them last season. Linus Lundqvist and Dev Gore were also out in action.
— BRDC British F3 (@BRDCBritishF3) March 6, 2018
In total, 15 cars were on track for the BRDC British F3 Championship, two more than British F4, though the former has its opening round beforehand, taking place at Oulton Park during Easter weekend.
Hillspeed, Lanan Racing and Douglas Motorsport were also present at the event, with all three teams having announced two drivers so far. Championship returnee, Jamie Chadwick, spoke after her run on Tuesday.
“It’s been really good, Donington is one of my favourite circuits in the F3 car. We don’t normally get to come here until the very end of the season but it’s always good to get out on a test day like this.
“It’s early days in terms of my time at Douglas but every bit of seat time I’m really enjoying and we’ve finished off quite quick as well so I’m really happy. I’ve settled into the team really well and I feel I’ve picked up from where I left off last year which is really important.” – Jamie Chadwick.
British F3 Media Day will take place on Thursday with free entry to Donington Park.