It was a busy weekend for British racing drivers, with no fewer than 76 in action over the course of the weekend. The majority were in action over in the Dubai 24 Hours, but there were many quality performances in a host of series.
The second round of the FIA Formula E Championship, on that obscure half-street, half-static circuit, saw two Brits looking dominant even though neither came away with the win. Sam Bird looked to be in imperious form in practice and duly converted his efforts with an electrifying pole lap, despite sporting car damage. He led the race initially before succumbing to the Andretti BMWs of Antonio Felix da Costa and Alexander Sims.
It looked like a cakewalk for the men from Munich until both drivers locked up in the latter stages, causing a collision that ruled out da Costa and cost Sims victory. In a remarkable show of teamwork afterwards, team boss Roger Griffiths and the drivers fronted up to Nicki Shields on live television, with the Portuguese driver claiming responsibility. In some respects, it was fair comment, as Sims looked the quicker of the two and da Costa admitted he could have let him past earlier. However, the team must surely be at fault for not clarifying any instructions or orders clearly to their drivers.
Regardless of losing a 1-2, Andretti BMW look to be in a strong position to challenge for Season 5 honours. For Sims to put in a performance like that in only his second FE race highlights what a phenomenal performance it was and what a talent he is.
Bird was one of the beneficiaries of the accident as it led to him claiming the final podium spot. Of the other Brits, Nissan’s Oliver Rowland was always on the cusp of the top ten before fading towards the end to finish 15th. He was closely followed by Nio’s Oliver Turvey, another who had a quiet weekend. Gary Paffett must wish he could have a quiet weekend in Formula E. Race commentator Jack Nicholls called it right when he pointed out that Paffett’s HWA team are in desperate need of track time. Both cars – including that of teammate Stoffel Vandoorne – clashed on the opening lap and failed to complete four laps between them, with Paffett retiring after three laps with damage.
Sunday also saw a stacked rookie test, with no fewer than six Brits participating. James Rossiter proved once again what an asset he is to DS Techeetah by finishing the test in second, while Nissan stalwart Jann Mardenborough ended up fifth. There was also a notable run for Audi DTM veteran Jamie Green, who was testing a single-seater for the first time in 15 years. Harry Tincknell, Jake Hughes and Jamie Chadwick also took part in the test.
Asian Formula 3 Winter Series
It appears the ugly side of Dan Ticktum has come to the fore again. With the widely-held consensus being that he would walk the Asian F3 Winter Series and claim thosefinal, valuable Super License points needed, his three-race weekend was anything but. Who would have thought that talents such as Yifei Ye and Rinus VeeKay would also be in with a shout?
Ticktum returned from the opening weekend at Buriram with a single podium to his name and, as the interview highlights, it was everybody else’s fault. For a man who Red Bull are keen to get into Formula 1 – sooner rather than later – this was just the latest sour grapes-laden whinge. Ticktum only has himself to blame for the fact that he must race through the winter, as he would no doubt have the magic 40 points had he not had to serve a one-year suspension for teen-tinged hot-headedness.
Whoever is advising him needs to put him on a crash-course in PR at the very least.
Brits dominated the LMP2 category of the 4 Hours of Buriram, with the United Autosports pairing of Paul di Resta and Phil Hanson relying on their combined racecraft skills and slick pit work to score a dominant victory. Harrison Newey came home in second, while Darren Burke finished 4th.
In LMP3 there was a victory for Chris Buncombe and Wayne Boyd, who both put in incredible closing stints, with Boyd bringing it home with a fine drive. The Ecurie Ecosse pairing of Tony Wells and Colin Noble finished on the podium while in GTE, there was another win for works Ferrari driver James Calado.
24 Hour Series
It was a quiet, albeit long, weekend for the Brits over in Dubai for the opening round of the wonderfully varied Creventic series. The likes of Oliver Jarvis, Adam Christodoulou and Finlay Hutchison were in action, but the headline Brit ended up being Jake Rattenbury, who was part of the winning quartet in the SPX category. In total, 49 British drivers took part in the race – a quantity unlikely to be topped in an international race this season.
A shout-out must go to Nigel Greensall, the only British racer in action last weekend. Greensall finished 11th in the IMSA Prototype Challenge race at Daytona that formed part of the Roar Before the 24 event.
Brit Pack Driver of the Weekend Nominations
Sam Bird – a classy pole position was followed by 4th in the Marrakesh E-Prix for the 32-year-old southerner.
Alexander Sims –he may well have lost a podium following the intra-team collision with Antonio Felix da Costa, but it was a stunning performance from Sims, in only his second Formula E race.
Paul di Resta –The former Formula 1 star was consistently the top performer in the Asian LMS event at Buriram and is proving to be an inspired signing by United Autosports.
Phil Hanson – The youngster continues to improve on a race-by-race basis and his back-to-the-wall drive under pressure from the Algarve Pro Racing cars in the Asian LMS was first rate.
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