Sensational Pace But Scant Reward For Chaimongkol At Snetterton
Outstanding race pace from Hillspeed driver Sasakorn ‘Cutter’ Chaimongkol went unrewarded at Snetterton 300 Circuit over the weekend, 18th/19th May, during a bruising and frustrating second event of the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship season.
Thai 19-year-old Chaimongkol started the race meeting in fine style with searing pace during two days of pre-event practice, lapping second quickest overall, but traffic problems in qualifying and then incidents in two of the weekend’s three races seriously restricted his points scoring ability.
In the end, the second year British F3 driver took away a best result of ninth position from the opening encounter on Saturday afternoon and although neither of Sunday’s races went according to plan, second fastest race lap in round five certainly proved the point of what might have been...
“It’s been a very tough weekend, unexpectedly so as we had some of the best preparation we’ve ever enjoyed on the test days, with Cutter right up there throughout”, said team principal Richard Ollerenshaw, “Qualifying didn’t work for us, traffic did cause some problems, but there was still good potential for the races.
“It’s a shame how it all turned out, especially with all the hard work everyone has put in, but we’re determined to be back in the fight for the podium at Silverstone in a few weeks. Cutter raced well once again this weekend, it’s just unfortunate a couple of incidents ended up having the biggest say in the outcome as the true pace was clear for everyone to see.”
During the two pre-event practice days, Chaimongkol was in very impressive form. Ending the opening day third quickest overall, the Hillspeed driver was never outside the top four all day and was as high as second fastest in session two.
On day two, Chaimongkol then produced a searing time of 1m42.435 seconds in the morning which was the fastest ever lap for a BRDC British F3 car at that point around the 2.97-mile 300 Circuit. Later in the day, during the fourth and final session, the Thai racer went quicker still and only just missed out on the fastest time of all by a mere 0.018 seconds.
With hopes justifiably high going into qualifying on Saturday morning, the session didn’t deliver the results expected with traffic having a negative impact on Chaimongkol’s run – meaning he had to settle for 10th on the grid for the first of the weekend’s three encounters.
Moving up into ninth position on the first lap, Chaimongkol then spent the remainder of the 10 lap race close behind Manuel Maldonado. With never more than a few tenths of a second splitting the two drivers, the Hillspeed racer applied maximum pressure to his rival and tried everything to make a pass – Maldonado having the added benefit of four new tyres – but he had to settle for ninth.
For round five on Sunday, Chaimongkol lined-up eighth on the ‘reverse grid’ and after a great launch from the line he was well placed to challenge for the top six after taking seventh on the run to Riches. Contact through the corner, however, from Ulysse De Pauw resulted in a broken front wing for the Thai and he slipped down the order before pitting for a new nose cone and a switch of tyres.
When the Safety Car was deployed soon after as a result of another incident on track, it lucklessly worked against Hillspeed. Chaimongkol rejoined the race a lap down with older tyres now fitted, a decision taken with his race having already been compromised, and so spent the remainder of the contest bottled up at the back of the pack.
Even so, he served notice of his true pace with the second fastest lap, a time of 1m44.284 seconds, on his way to an eventual result of 14th – impressive speed on older rubber. Chaimongkol’s pace was much quicker than those drivers he was behind, and he was obviously very keen to try and un-lap himself and make progress, but an unfortunate tangle led to a grid penalty for race three.
Starting from the back of the grid in 16th place, he charged though the pack at the beginning and avoided a multi-car tangle into the hairpin to climb into the top 10 before the Safety Car was called ahead of lap two. Racing re-started on lap five and Chaimongkol continued his excellent progression, taking ninth and then grabbing eighth soon after.
Showcasing great race-craft, he pressured Lucas Petersson and edged ahead of the Swedish driver on lap eight, but subsequent contact from his rival resulted in a puncture for the Thai. After an enforced pit-stop he ended the encounter in 13th but, post-race, Petersson was disqualified and so Chaimongkol was credited with 12th place to take some vital additional championship points.
British F3 now heads into a three-week break with rounds seven, eight and nine of the 2019 season taking place over the weekend 8th/9th June at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit in Northamptonshire.
2019 British F3 Championship Standings (after Rd6)
12th Sasakorn Chaimongkol, 60pts