Consistent Weekend At Silverstone For Chaimongkol Plus Star Showing From Debutant Varrone
Derbyshire BRDC British Formula 3 Championship team Hillspeed again confirmed its front-running potential during the third race meeting of the season at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit over the weekend, 8th/9th June, with Sasakorn ‘Cutter’ Chaimongkol and new team-mate Nicolás Varrone.
Marking a return to two cars for the first time since 2018, the Hathersage squad showcased podium challenging pace with debutant Varrone impressing on his way to a weekend best of fourth place in round eight on Sunday morning.
Chaimongkol, meanwhile, raced to a best of sixth place in a wet opener on Saturday following a strong drive from ninth on the grid. While race two wasn’t as fruitful for the Thai driver, in round nine he finished seventh with a best lap just a tenth of a second shy of the fastest of all.
“It’s been another weekend with a huge amount of potential, some good results but also some things out of our control which certainly cost us the chance of a podium”, said Hillspeed team principal Richard Ollerenshaw, “The pace is there with Cutter, we all know that, and he’s a very fair driver as well – he treats others how he wants to be treated but that’s not always reciprocated!
“Race one went quite well, but in race two he was brake-tested throughout as he tried to make progress which is disappointing to have seen from an experienced rival. The positives, though, are the consistency, the pace and the racecraft and we’ll take that forward to Donington.”
Ollerenshaw added: “It was a pleasure to welcome Nico to the team, he did a fantastic job and a podium wasn’t very far away at all which would’ve been incredible on his debut in such a tough and competitive championship. From difficult conditions in testing, he learnt the car, the track and the tyres very impressively. There aren’t a lot of drivers capable of doing that as well as he did on their debuts.”
Chaimongkol and Varrone confirm Hillspeed competitiveness
After embarking on his first ever mileage in his Hillspeed British F3 car on Thursday, 6th June, at Silverstone, during the official test on Friday, 7th June, Varrone made heads turn with the seventh quickest lap in a wet opening session – lapping within 0.4 seconds of Chaimongkol who was a strong fifth quickest in the first run of the day. In session two, Varrone then improved to fifth.
Qualifying on Saturday was also wet, and it was Chaimongkol who emerged fastest of the Hillspeed drivers with the 10th quickest lap while Varrone was 11th fastest. As a result of a penalty for a rival, though, Chaimongkol and Varrone were elevated into ninth and 10th on the round seven grid.
Race one later in the afternoon began very well indeed for Argentinian newcomer Varrone who moved up into ninth ahead of his team-mate. Frustratingly, though, the good news was short-lived when contact from another car necessitated a pit visit for a fresh tyre. Despite great work by the team to get the car back on track as quickly as possible, he ultimately ended the race in 17th spot.
Chaimongkol, with his customary speed and determination, made excellent progress and by the end of lap two he was into eighth place. Holding position during the mid-point of the 10 lap encounter, on the final tour the Thai was able to move through into a top six finish after picking his way through the aftermath of a tangle for Hampus Ericsson and Kiern Jewiss at The Loop.
Round eight on Sunday morning, the ‘reversed grid’ race, started with Varrone on the front row for only his second ever British F3 contest while Chaimongkol lined-up in 13th position. When the lights went out, Varrone – with only three new tyres on his car as a result of the race one puncture – made a good launch but out of Copse he was edged back to third by Pavan Ravishankar.
Remaining very close behind the Singaporean driver, Varrone lapped with impressive speed and consolidated his top three placing. From mid-distance, though, Johnathan Hoggard began to close in and on lap six the Briton went through at The Loop to edge Varrone to fourth where he stayed to the finish, keeping Ayrton Simmons at bay to secure an excellent result.
Chaimongkol had a less fortunate outing, slipping to the tail of the field on a busy and robust opening lap. When an attempt to pass a couple of cars around the outside at The Loop didn’t work out, the Hillspeed driver having to go wide over the exit kerbs, he rejoined the track in 17th place but managed to rise through to 13th position in the end during a very frustrating contest.
Round nine later in the day began with Chaimongkol seventh on the grid and after a good start he was able to maintain his placing until two thirds of the way around the opening lap, when able to pass Ericsson for sixth position at Aintree. Ericsson hit back on lap three at Stowe, so the Thai was edged to seventh again and remained there for the rest of the 10 lap encounter.
Producing expectedly strong pace, Chaimongkol’s best lap of the race was only a tenth of a second shy of the quickest and more than a match for podium performance. Silverstone, like Oulton Park and Snetterton this year, was very much a case of what might have been in terms of silverware.
From 11th place on the grid Varrone certainly had the capability to challenge for another great finish but, after being bundled back to 14th place on a very hectic opening lap, he slipped to 16th late on before taking the chequered flag on lap 10 back inside the top 15.
Next on the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship calendar is the first of two visits this season to Donington Park Grand Prix Circuit in the East Midlands, Hillspeed’s ‘home’ track, for rounds 10, 11 and 12 over the weekend 22nd/23rd June.
2019 British F3 Championship Standings (after Rd9)
12th Sasakorn Chaimongkol, 95pts; 17th Nicolás Varrone, 23pts