Felipe Nasr - Snetterton 300Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series championship leader Felipe Nasr continues to hold a tight grip at the head of the driver standings following the conclusion of the third event of the season at Snetterton 300 Circuit on Sunday (15 May).

Off the back of a strong second place finish in round seven on Saturday, his sixth podium of 2011, the 18-year-old Brazilian had a less straightforward time on day two with matters out of his control working against him in round nine. Even so, the Carlin driver remains well clear of his rivals in the title race – 43 points to be exact. He also posted a new outright circuit lap record in round nine.

Lining up ninth on the ‘reverse grid’ for the round eight sprint race, by virtue of finishing second in Saturday’s encounter, Felipe made a superb start and by the time he exited only the fourth turn, Agostini, he was up into the top six.

Running eighth as he entered turn three, Felipe produced a stunning piece of overtaking to pass two cars in one move on the run to Agostini to grab sixth place. No additional gains were possible for the duration of the 11-lapper though with further passing at a premium on the 2.97-mile track.

Starting the longer 40-minute ninth round from pole position, having dominated qualifying, Felipe made a sensational getaway to lead comfortably through the first corner, Riches. As on Saturday though, his early advantage was eroded when the Safety Car was deployed in time for lap two due to a start-line incident which accounted for two cars.

At the re-start on lap four, Felipe’s planned break was compromised when he had to back-off to avoid catching the Safety Car at the final turn. This gave Kevin Magnussen the opportunity to get a great tow along Senna Straight and there was nothing Felipe could do to prevent the pass.

Running in second place and intent on re-challenging the new leader, Felipe suddenly started to lose pace and it eventually became clear a slow puncture to his right-front tyre was the problem. Having lost a number of positions, the South American teenager pitted at the end of his 13th lap.

Rejoining a long way down the order, further insult was added to injury when race officials decreed he contravened the rules at the re-start. Shortly after he put the power down to make his break, the Safety Car slowed at the last corner and Felipe felt he had no choice but to back off – sufficient for him to receive a drive-through penalty.

After serving the penalty, Felipe displayed impeccable character and set about salvaging as much as he could from the race – in this instance the bonus point for the fastest lap. Posting quicker and quicker times during the final third of the race, he set a new outright record for the circuit with a time of 1m39.933 seconds (106.95mph) – a full 0.5 seconds quicker than anyone. He finished 17th.

“Going for the fastest lap was as much as I could do”, said Felipe, “We’re still not sure what caused the puncture but there was a problem with the sidewall – we’re still looking into it. Anyway, we showed this weekend we’re the quickest here with two poles and the lap record by a big way.

“Unfortunately we had the problem with the Safety Car. They said I gave too much space to it and then when I committed to my start, the Safety Car was stopped at the final corner so I had to back off. Then I got the drive-through but all I was trying to do was to avoid the Safety Car!

“I’ve never had this problem before but these things do happen in racing sometimes. The main thing is we still lead the championship by a good amount and we know we’ve been the quickest again this weekend. Now we look forward to the next rounds at Brands Hatch, it’s a great track.”

Felipe now has a five-week sojourn from action with rounds 10, 11 and 12 of the 2011 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series set to take place on 18th/19th June at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit in Kent, UK.

Provisional 2011 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series Standings (after Rd9):
1st Felipe Nasr, 114pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.