Mathieu MaurageMathieu Maurage made an impressive Team West-Tec debut as British F3 visited the fabulous new Algarve circuit in Portugal on the weekend of 11th to 13th September.

Mathieu, 19, was making his Formula 3 race debut as well as having his first races of 2009. The graduate from the 2008 Auto Sport Academy Series, impressed the team from the off in free practice, before taking fourth place on the National Class grid in both qualifying sessions, pipping team regular Max Snegirev in the process, with Max qualifying in a competitive fifth place both times.

For race one, confusion with the red lights going out only a fraction of after coming on, made for a frenetic start. Mathieu made a great start and was up to second, and challenging Dias for the lead, before unfortunately being hit in the rear at the second corner, with the damage sustained leading to an early end to his race. Max had made a less good getaway, with car immediately in front of him stalling, but pulled of an early great overtaking move to go around two cars on the outside at the hairpin, however one of those cars then bumped him, buckling a rear wheel and badly affecting the set up of the Russian’s Dallara. Although able to continue, the handling of the car was ruined and Max settled down to a steady drive to finish in a solid fifth place.

For race two, both drivers made good getaways with Mathieu again jumping up to run second and Max moving up to a racy fourth position.

Matheiu was soon involved in a ferocious scrap with Daniel McKenzie, now the new champion, and Victor Correa and was demoted to fourth before cementing the final podium position with a stunning outbraking manoeuvre on Correa.

Max was also doing a good job, catching that battle although he was less lucky when trying to pass Correa, as the two cars touched and Max spun on to the grass. By the time he had recovered to the track, he had little option but to again settle for fifth place, which retained his fourth place in the Championship.

Mathieu Maurage: This was actually my first ever podium and I am so happy. The team did a great job on the car between the races and I made another good start. I passed Correa after the safety car and I knew it was then or never. To be on the podium is amazing and I must thank my sponsors for their support.

Gavin Wills, Co-Team Principal: Mathieu did a great job in his first ever F3 race weekend. He made a stunning start to race one and was unlucky, but drove very well in race two to take the final podium position.

Max Snegirev: This is a really great circuit and enjoyable to race on. I moved up in race one so it was disappointing to be hit from behind and in race two I got together with Correa which ended any realistic podium chances.

John Miller, Co-Team Principal: Max raced well here and made a great pass in race one and was unfortunate to lose out because of it. He was in contention for a podium in race two until the contact and resultant spin. We are racing at Brands Hatch next week, where Max tested very well back in the summer, and so I really hope he can finish the season as he started it – back on the podium!