F3: Max Chilton wins the season’s final race
By LJ Hutchins
Monday, September 21st, 2009
A strong weekend from Max Chilton saw him take a second place, a victory and a driver of the weekend award as well as the trophy for the top British entrant.
And the Surrey 18-year-old, who has spent the year with Carlin Motorsport, says his next goal will be success in the upcoming GP2 Asia series.
Rounds 19 and 20 of the championship, held at Brands Hatch, saw series winner Daniel Ricciardo dominate. But his team-mate Chilton did not give him an easy ride.
To see how the weekend played out, read on:
Practice: Ricciardo bests previous polesitter’s time
Ricciardo, who took the season title last weekend, lapped the 2.3-mile Grand Prix circuit six-tenths of a second faster than anyone else on the field with a time of 1:17.259. By doing so he ran faster than last year’s polesitter, his predecessor at Carlin and as champion, Jaime Alguersuari.
Raikkonen Robertson’s Daisuke Nakajima came closest to his time and the two were among five drivers to put in sub-1:18 laps. The others were Chilton, Fortec’s Riki Christodoulou and T-Sport’s Adriano Buzaid.
Qualifying 1: Carlin dominate for Ricciardo’s fifth pole
Ricciardo kept up the good work in qualifying, taking his fifth pole position of the season for Round 19 and beating Chilton by three-tenths of a second. His pole time was 1.17.207s around eight-hundredths of a second inside the 2008 pole set by Alguersuari.
Christodoulou bagged third on the grid for Fortec Motorsport, just ahead of Raikkonen Robertson trio Marcus Ericsson, Carlos Huertas and Nakajima. A spin from the latter at Paddock Hill Bend caused a red flag half-way through the session but the Japanese driver emerged unscathed from the incident.
Qualifying 2: Ricciardo makes it a double
Ricciardo went on to score another pole position for round 20, shaving five-hundredths of a second off his earlier time and beating Chilton by just 0.045 seconds. Christodoulou was once again third fastest and Ericsson fourth-best for Raikkonen Robertson.
Race one: Ricciardo streets ahead of the field
With Carlin clearly the team on the pace this weekend, Ricciardo translated his slate of practice and qualifying fastest laps into race success with a virtuoso display in round 19 of the championship.
The 20-year-old Australian, who is backed by Red Bull, led from pole and lowered the lap record twice as well as claiming the biggest victory margin of the season on his way to his seventh win.
He also succeeded in extending his lead over pursuing team-mate Chilton on every lap bar one – when he encountered lapped traffic – and reached the finish line more than 15 seconds clear.
Ricciardo, who was boosted pre-race by a visit from David Brabham, the last Australian to win the British F3 title, said: “From the start I just got away and focused on my job and didn’t have to worry once about what was going on behind me.
“Carlin prepared an amazing car which was suited just perfectly to the conditions, which made my job quite easy. David Brabham wished me all the best and congratulated me on the title win; it’s great to see him here supporting us young kids.”
Chilton, unfazed by smoke from his brake pads at the end of the warm-up lap, made a good start from the front row to slot into second at the lights but had no chance of catching Ricciardo. He said: “I was struggling under braking the whole race, so second is a good result.”
Christodoulou and Ericsson made good starts and held station all the way to the end for third and fourth. Hitech’s Walter Grubmuller making up a couple of places away from the line to net himself fifth. Huertas held sixth throughout, ahead of Henry Arundel.
Wayne Boyd made the best of a dramatic opening lap, making up three places but suffering front wing damage in the process which led to T-Sport calling him into the pits for repairs.Team-mate Buzaid profited from Boyd’s pit stop, inheriting eighth.
Race two: Chilton claims Carlin’s ninth season victory
Chilton led the final round from start to finish to claim his first season win after taking advantage of a rare startline error from Ricciardo to grab an early lead.
He survived a safety car period, brought about by a crash involving the car of Max Snegirev, before bringing his car home to win from Christodoulou by a one-second margin and being named as the driver of the weekend.
He said after the race: “That meant a lot for me because my win in Portugal wasn’t an outright victory and didn’t make the headlines. This will, and that’s a big relief.
“I loved every minute of it. It was a pretty standard F3 race around here: try to make places up at the start and, once I had done that, I knew it would be hard for anyone to pass me. The safety car was a bit of a worry but I managed to pull out a good lead after that as well.”
Ericsson also got past Ricciardo at the start to slot into third, the position he held to the chequered flag, with the new champion recovering from his startline wobble to claim fourth. Arundel finished fifth but was later docked 20 seconds for a start infringement, which moved Grubmuller up a place.
The Austrian netted enough points from the weekend to displace his absent Hitech team-mate, Renger van der Zande, from the championship runner-up position.
Nakajima claimed sixth ahead of Boyd, who beat Buzaid to into eighth, Huertas in ninth, Victor Garcia, National Class winner Gabriel Dias and the final point-scorer, Jay Bridger. Arundel ended up 14th.
Chilton is Challenge Cup victor
During the weekend Chilton was confirmed as the winner of the Challenge Cup, the prize for the top British driver in the series. The 18-year-old’s second-place finish and final-round win was enough to secure the cup by a handsome margin.
He said: “It’s great to be recognised as the top Brit. To be top in your nation means you are going to get a lot of support from people. It’s good to do it and I’m thankful for it.”
This season was Chilton’s third in the championship, and his most successful: “This has been my favourite season because I’ve been doing so well. It’s still only my third year in single-seaters, which people forget.
“Most drivers do a couple of years in other things before they go into F3. So I think I’ve done pretty well: I’ve had a lot of pole positions, eventually got my first race win. It’s been a very enjoyable season with Carlin, and it’s a shame it’s ended but my career has to move on and I have to step up to bigger things.”
Chilton says that his next goal is success in the GP2 Asia series.