Daniel Ricciardo and Max ChiltonDaniel Ricciardo became the 2009 British F3 champion today, following a strong outing at the Portimao circuit in Portugal. Team mate Max Chilton took his first victory in the British F3 International class to top off a fantastic weekend for the Carlin team.

In a chaotic second race, Chilton and Ricciardo started on the front row, but both were passed into the first corner by flying F3 Euro Series racer Sam Bird. Ricciardo then found himself battling with F3 Euro Series points leader Jules Bianchi, when contact between the duo resulted in a damaged front wing for Ricciardo. From then on the Carlin racer struggled to hold his position, dropping further down the field due to a lack of front grip and crossed the line seventh on the road, but was fourth of the British F3 runners – enough to seal the championship. Just behind Ricciardo was Henry Arundel in eighth – fifth of the British F3 drivers, while Philip Major had to retire with damage after contact with Wayne Boyd.

Chilton meanwhile had fought his way up to third on the road which was first in the British F3 championship class, and crossed the line to take his first victory in the series. It was a well earned win for the 18 year-old British racer, who has been blighted by bad luck so far this season, but had been the quickest and most consistent driver in qualifying in Portugal.

Ricciardo’s rise to the 2009 title came after a stunning rookie season which saw the Red Bull racer head the standings from the first race of the year at Oulton Park. From 18 races so far, Ricciardo has claimed six wins, 11 podiums and leaves Portimao with an unbeatable lead in the championship standings. Ricciardo follows in the footsteps of 2008 F3 champion and now F1 driver Jaime Alguersuari.

Ricciardo’s success in the British F3 Series also marks a return to winning ways for Volkswagen in the first year of the manufacturer’s return to the British Series. The German manufacturer last won the British F3 championship in 1989. Incidentally, that too was with an Australian driver, David Brabham, who was run by now Carlin Commercial Director Steve Hollman’s Bowman Team, with Trevor Carlin as Team Manager.

Speaking about winning the title, Ricciardo said, “It’s an unbelievable feeling to have won the title and a big relief. It’s great when you have worked so hard for something when it pays off. A big thank you to every one at Carlin and my engineer Mike has worked so hard this season. It’s good to be able to head to the last round at Brands with nothing to lose and everything to gain, so I’m just going to go out there for the wins with no pressure at all.”

Team Principal Trevor Carlin said, “I am absolutely delighted for Daniel, who has worked so hard and has never taken the possibility of winning this championship for granted. He has worked brilliantly with his engineer Mike Lugg, who has also just completed his first season in British F3. A huge thank you must go to the whole team, our chief engineer Mark Owen and our development team at Chessington who have continued to push the team forwards. Max thoroughly deserved this win in the British F3 championship class and I think this will really open the floodgates for him now.”