Carlos Sainz jnr. claimed a superb victory in treacherous conditions, winning race 1 at Monza in the Cooper Tyres British Formula 3 series. The 17-year-old Spaniard looked to be in a class of his own in the Carlin Motorsports Dallara Volkswagen as he raced away from a very confused start and was never threatened. The win gives him a one-point lead in the title chase.
Fastest in qualifying he lined up on the grid in 2nd place due to the regulations that use the driver's 2nd fastest time for race 1. The grid meant nothing though as the rain fell while the drivers were out on their warm-up lap. The race had already been declared wet because of some damp patches in a few places but everyone had gone to the grid with slicks.
So instead of returning to the grid at the end of the warm-up lap everyone was in the pits changing tyres. The race then started from pit lane and in the order that their teams had got their men changed. “The Carlin guys did a magnificent job,” said Sainz after the race. “They made half the race win there, I lined up first to leave the pit lane.”
When the pit lain light turned green the pack shot out, slithering on cold rain tyres. Sainz led across the line at the end of lap one from Fahmi Ilyas and Pietro Fantin by 7 tenths. By the end of the 2nd lap he had opened the gap to 1.3 seconds. Pipo Derani was up to 4th ahead of Nick McBride and Jazeman Jaafar and while they were lapping quickly Sainz extended his lead to 3 seconds over Ilyas at the end of lap 3.
There were plenty of mistakes but the Red Bull Junior was in a class of his own. 4.3 seconds at the end of lap 4 with Derani up to 3rd but not making ground on Sainz. The action was frantic, everywhere but out front.
At the end of lap 5 Derani was 2nd but 4.7 seconds behind Sainz. The next lap, Derani's first with a clear road ahead would show if he was any threat. He was fractionally slower but could concentrate on chasing Sainz as Fantin and Jaafar were well behind in 3rd and 4th.
Sainz continued to creep away as Jaafar passed Fantin on lap 7 and Tinknell took 5th and Harvey 6th. By the end of lap 9 Derani seemed to accept defeat but Sainz was enjoying the conditions and now lapping a full second quicker than the Brazilian at 2m 0.741 seconds, with Derani in the 2m 01s and everyone else slower.
With his advantage a handsome 6.3 seconds Sainz eased back on lap 10 with 8 minutes of the race still to run. Derani did start to close but Sainz responded and put in one of only 2 laps under 2 minutes on lap 12. “I knew that my lead might be under threat because I was making mistakes,” said Sainz. “The brake bias was almost full wet, you can change it a little from within the car but not enough so it is too much on the front and I think everyone was in trouble on the brakes.”
The only concern now was the drying track and the shredded rain tyres but Sainz only eased the pace slightly, relaxing into the 2 minute bracket, still extending his lead steadily. Even easing off to waive to his crew as he crossed the line gave him the win by 9.889 seconds. “It was getting dry towards the end but not too bad there was still quite a lot of wet track so we were never really in trouble with the tyres,” concluded Sainz.
Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series
Round 4, Monza (ITA) 14/4/2012
15 laps / 53.994 miles
1 Carlos SAINZ / ESP, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 30m 32.179s / 106.07mph
2 Pipo DERANI / BRA, Fortec Dallara-Mercedes +9.889s
3 Jazeman JAAFAR / MAS, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen +12.509s
4 Hannes VAN ASSELDONK / NED, Fortec Dallara-Mercedes +17.418s
5 Jack HARVEY / GBR, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen +18.608s
6 Alex LYNN / GBR, Fortec Dallara-Mercedes +18.892s
7 Pietro FANTIN / BRA, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen +20.575s
8 Nick McBRIDE / AUS, T-Sport Dallara-Nissan +34.042s
9 Fahmi ILYAS / MAS, Double R Dallara-Mercedes +43.095s
10 Felix SERRALLES / PUR, Fortec Dallara-Mercedes +1m 01.445s
11 Geoff UHRHANE / AUS, Double R Dallara-Mercedes 12 laps
R Harry TINCKNELL / GBR, Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen 11 laps
Fastest lap Lynn 1m 59.933s / 108.06mph
Provisional championship standings
1 Sainz 50 points; 2 Harvey 49; 3 Jaafar 47; 4 Derani 38; 5 Tincknell 32; 6 Serralles 30 etc.