Stunning Performance From Chaimongkol To Take Maiden British F3 Victory At Silverstone GP
Sasakorn ‘Cutter’ Chaimongkol achieved his long-held dream of becoming a race winner in the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship during round 19 at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit on Saturday, 17th August, with a superb lights-to-flag performance for Derbyshire squad Hillspeed.
Qualifying on the front of the row of the grid for the first of three races, only just missing pole position by a fraction, Thai 20-year-old Chaimongkol surged into the lead on the run into the first corner and soaked up huge pressure throughout the 10 laps to claim a memorable maiden success.
“It’s obviously amazing to take my first win”, said Chaimongkol, “We’re always super quick in testing and it's just been in qualifying, that one session where you need to be very quick and I couldn't pull it together. In the last few races I've been back on par with qualifying, though, and it makes it so much easier. Huge thank you to the guys at Hillspeed, we’ve all worked so hard towards this.”
Argentina’s Nico Varrone made a welcome return to action with Hillspeed this weekend after missing the previous event at Brands Hatch, and he impressed by racing to his second podium in only three British F3 events with a terrific second place in a very wet round 20 on Sunday, 18th August.
Reflecting on the weekend, Hillspeed team boss Richard Ollerenshaw said: “It’s obviously fantastic Cutter has finally done it. He drove very well in race one and deserves to be a winner in British F3. He’s heading home to Thailand now, so it’ll be wonderful to celebrate with his family and sponsors.
“We worked hard on a low downforce set-up when we tested at Silverstone recently, with the wet practice on Friday there was no chance for dry running and so we just bolted it on for qualifying and it worked well. We should really have had a pole or front row from Cutter for race three as well but, overall, it’s been a great weekend for him.”
Ollerenshaw added: “Nico missed the test last week as he was out of the country, so he only had three wet practice sessions on Friday. Qualifying was really a dry practice for him, so we got the car underneath him and for race two he did a great job to finish on the podium again. Everyone is looking forward to Donington next month now, we’ll go there aiming to end the season on a high.”
Superb second victory of British F3 season for Hillspeed
Qualifying on Saturday marked the first dry running of the weekend and in a very closely matched session Chaimongkol starred with the second fastest time of 1m55.962 seconds (113.63mph), beneath the previous qualifying lap record, to just miss out on pole position by a mere 0.1 seconds. Varrone, meanwhile, posted the 15th best time with a lap of 1m57.205 seconds (112.43mph).
Knowing the start to race one would be absolutely crucial, Chaimongkol launched from the line perfectly and managed to squeeze into the lead past pole qualifier Kiern Jewiss on the run into Copse. Opening a lead of around a second by the end of the first tour, the Thai’s advantage was almost halved by Jewiss but lap after lap Chaimongkol calmly handled the pressure.
With his lead reduced to just 0.4 seconds on lap seven, Chaimongkol wasn’t flustered and went on to claim victory on lap 10 by 0.8 seconds to spark incredible celebrations in the Hillspeed camp. He also only just missed out on the fastest lap of the race by a couple of tenths of a second.
Varrone maintained grid position on lap one before gaining places on the next two tours. Holding 13th spot for the remainder of the race, the South American driver wasn’t in a position to challenge for more with the lower order spreading out but he did pull three seconds clear of the chasing pack.
Rain returned to Silverstone ahead of round 20 on Sunday morning and from fourth on the grid Varrone made a great start to quickly battle his way through into the podium placings. Taking third position and running just over a second shy of Kris Wright, by the end of lap three the Hillspeed racer was within just 0.4 seconds of his rival and he duly pounced to grab second position.
With race leader Manuel Maldonado already 4.5 seconds up the road by that point, Varrone ensured he maintained the runner-up position during the remainder of the encounter to secure his second podium during only his eighth British F3 race.
Race one winner Chaimongkol, of course, had to start the ‘reverse grid’ contest from the back of the field but he made strong progress and by the start of lap four he was into 13th position. Much faster than Nazim Azman ahead, Chaimongkol was nonetheless bottled up behind his rival in the spray and lap after lap just a couple of tenths of a second separated them.
Making the breakthrough on lap eight, the Hillspeed racer immediately opened a huge gap of 1.4 seconds and closed onto the top 10 battle. Holding 12th position into the 10th and final lap, the Thai brilliantly passed both Lucas Petersson and Benjamin Pedersen and with a 10 second time penalty for Kaylen Frederick, Chaimongkol actually ended the race in a rewarding ninth position.
For the weekend finale on Sunday afternoon, Chaimongkol started the race fifth on the grid but hopes of a challenge for his second podium of the weekend were ended on lap one when contact from a rival at Maggotts cut one of his tyres and he had to limp back to the pits. Rejoining the race a lap down, he ultimately ended the encounter a frustrating 17th.
Varrone lined-up in 15th spot on the grid and gained two places on lap one, although it could have been more had he not been delayed by the incident involving Chaimongkol. Continuing his progress by moving into the top 12 on lap three, Varrone then grabbed 11th on lap five and stayed there to the flag but a five second penalty for track limits infringements meant he slipped to 13th spot.
Donington Park Grand Prix Circuit in the East Midlands, Hillspeed’s ‘home’ track, will host the final three races of the BRDC British F3 Championship season over the weekend 14th/15th September.
2019 British F3 Championship Standings (after Rd21)
9th Sasakorn Chaimongkol, 257pts; 16th Nico Varrone, 109pts