Italian teenager Antonio Giovinazzi secured his fourth and fifth podium finishes of the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit over the weekend, 10th/11th August, to remain in the coveted championship top three for Double R Racing.
Finishing in third position during round seven on Saturday afternoon, before adding an excellent runner-up spot in round eight on Sunday, the rapid Dallara-Mercedes driver made it a happy return to home territory for Anthony ‘Boyo’ Hieatt’s Woking-based team.
Although qualifying fifth fastest for the weekend’s opening encounter, round seven, Giovinazzi was able to begin the race from the second row of the grid due to a penalty from the previous event for Jann Mardenborough.
Even though making a good getaway, the Double R man was leap-frogged by the false-starting Will Buller but his rival’s subsequent penalty didn’t matter as Giovinazzi was able to sling-shot past into Paddock Hill Bend to grab third place regardless. Ending the opening lap within 1.1 seconds of the top two, Giovinazzi produced an impressively competitive drive to claim his fourth British F3 podium.
Team-mate Sean Gelael started the race in seventh position and had managed to climb into the top six on the opening lap, before an unfortunate spin at Sheene Curve on the second tour ended the Indonesian’s race on the spot.
Tatiana Calderón, meanwhile, held eighth place off the start and climbed as high as sixth position on lap five before eventually slipping back to eighth – passed by Felipe Guimaraes and the recovering Buller after his drive-through penalty.
For round eight on Sunday morning Calderón started on pole position on the ‘reverse grid’ as a result of her eighth place finish the day before, with Giovinazzi sixth and the unfortunate Gelael in 14th position after his race one excursion.
The Colombian wasn’t, though, able to make the clean getaway she’d planned from pole and slipped down to seventh place on the opening lap. Giovinazzi managed to make his way through into the top four as Gelael worked his way past some of the National Class cars at the tail of the field.
On lap four Giovinazzi moved into third when Buller, after making another jump-start, had to serve a drive-through penalty once again. Pressuring Mardenborough for second place, Giovinazzi’s attention paid off on lap 12 when he forced his rival into a mistake and the Double R man gladly took the runner-up spot – bagging podium number five more than 10 seconds clear of the chasing pack.
Gelael continued to make progress through the order and eventually passed team-mate Calderón for eighth on lap 13, before pulling 10 seconds clear. Penalties for Buller and Nicholas Latifi elevated Gelael and Calderón into sixth and seventh but post-race they were rescinded, putting the Double R duo back into eighth and ninth on the final classification.
Beginning the final race of the weekend, round nine, from fifth on the grid, Giovinazzi’s involvement only lasted to lap two at Druids when contact with Buller resulted in damaged front-right suspension on the Italian rookie’s car.
Gelael and Calderón, starting eighth and ninth respectively, fared better and after the tangle at Druids they were able to assume sixth and seventh where they remained to the conclusion on lap 23 to secure valuable championship points.
“We’re delighted with two podiums for Antonio”, said team principal Hieatt, “He’s been mega quick again and it’s just a shame he got tangled up early on in race three, otherwise it could have been a hat-trick. The pace and racecraft are getting better every weekend.
“Sean and Tatiana had a tougher time of things but they raced well, picked up some valuable points and continued to learn. Overall I’m pleased with how the weekend has gone in the main, we always enjoy being at Brands and to come away with some trophies makes it all the more enjoyable!”
Germany’s world-famous Nurburgring will host the season finale of the 2013 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series six weeks from now on 21st/22nd September. Before then, Double R Racing will be back in action in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship next weekend, 17th/18th August, with rounds 19, 20 and 21 of its season also taking place at the Nurburgring.
Provisional 2013 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series Standings (after Rd9)
3rd Antonio Giovinazzi, 100pts; 7th Sean Gelael, 69pts; 8th Tatiana Calderón, 64pts