Yesterday saw nothing but beeming sunshine at Silverstone, but today brought rain for the 2023 British F3 Sprint Race. Rain started to fall before the start of the first Formula 3 race this weekend on Saturday morning, and the drivers changed from slick to wet weather tyres.
The thirty Formula 3 drivers lined up on the grid with Sebastian Montoya on reverse grid pole after qualifying in twelfth yesterday. Leonardo Fornaroli started in P12 after heading a Trident 1-2 in qualifying yesterday. All the drivers bar one changed back to dry weather tyres before the start, but the circuit was still damp and slippery.
2023 British F3 Sprint Race
Montoya led us away for the start of 18 laps around Silverstone. A few drivers ran wide in the first few corners, but the F3 boys and girl were well behaved despite the conditions. The Campos drivers of Christian Mansell and Pepe Marti had an excellent battle through Copse and Maggotts-Becketts-Chapel, but the Brit stayed ahead.
Jonny Edgar was having a poor home race, slipping down from the front row to outside the points by the end of Lap 2. Taylor Barnard was doing a sterling job in P2, keeping Franco Colapinto at bay as DRS was activated by the stewards. After his engine troubles yesterday, Dino Beganovic was up to P20 from the back (thirtieth) on Lap 3.
The rain was stop/start as we headed towards the halfway point of the race. Onto Lap 8, the gaps at the front started to close up as the rain began to intensify and DRS was disabled. As the cars headed towards the back end of the track, a Safety Car was called for rain.
British weather strikes
Drivers towards the back of the field gambled on wet tyres, as those further up missed the chance to dive into the pits straight away. Beganovic, Floresch and others boxed as ten brave drivers stayed out, including most of the leaders. The track started to dry as we remained under Safety Car until the end of Lap 12.
Beganovic was up 19 places into P11 as the leading wet tyre runner, but were these the correct compound for the conditions? Taylor Barnard was all over the back of Montoya at the restart and punted the Colombian off into Turn 1. The pair plummeted down the field as Colapinto swooped in to take the lead.
The cars with the wet tyres had a huge advantage over the slick runners, they could fire their tyres up much quicker, but would they last the distance. Beganovic climbed the order to P6, but his performance advantage was beginning to wane. Colapinto was showing that the slicks were the tyre to be on, but if you left the racing line, you were in trouble.
The wet-shod drivers started to struggle in the final few laps, so much so that Montoya, despite his crash, made it back into the points. It turned out, in hindsight, that the no-stopper was the fastest way to complete this race, as the entire top nine never went into the pits for new tyres.
Mansell had an excellent battle with Caio Collet for the final spot on the podium, but it was the Brit who claimed his first F3 podium. At the front, Colapinto was comfortable in the end who finished ahead of Gabriel Bortoleto by almost four seconds.