News 07 Jul 2024

Tough Weekend On Home Asphalt

Silverstone produced some dramatic motorsport upsets generally, due in no small part to the great British weather. Despite making a flying start to the event, Hitech’s Formula 3 challenge also ended up suffering a blow in a weekend that went from ecstasy to agony.

It was clear the conditions were going to prove something of a rollercoaster ride from Friday, when Practice required full wet tyres. Making his Formula 3 debut after stepping in for Martinius Stenshorne for this event, James Wharton made the most of the session with plenty of acclimatisation laps, along with Cian Shields. Conversely, Luke Browning elected to sit out the session and save it all for Qualifying, given that this is a track he knows like the back of his hand, wet or dry, thus conserving a set of tyres for Qualifying.

The weather had similarly decided to save it all for quali, and the first couple of flying laps had looked to be crucial as just a few minutes into the session the rain clouds let go. The conditions certainly added to the pressure for James, and for Cian, but none more so than Luke, for whom qualifying could have a big impact on his championship position. Miraculously, the track switched itself back on in the dying minutes of the session and the leader in the drivers’ standings delivered a perfect lap just when it counted most, to make it back-to-back pole positions. He would line up on the front row for the Feature Race.

Saturday’s 18-lap reversed-grid Sprint was the first wet race of the season and had to be rescheduled from early morning to early evening accordingly. Browning started P10, Cian 22nd, and James 27th. The track was very green after all the rain, and it was difficult to build tyre temperature. No sooner had the race resumed after an early safety car than disaster struck for Luke when contact from Tramnitz pushed him off track and an ensuing pit stop for damage saw him tumble down the order to 24th. James finished P13, gaining 14 places from his starting position, and Cian came home 17th.

All hopes rested on Sunday’s Feature Race, which ended up being one of Formula 3’s most fascinating to date, once again defined by the changing track conditions and safety cars. Light rain just prior to the race prompted 28 of the drivers to start with wet tyres, but on the formation lap several peeled into the pits to switch to the hard tyre prior to lights out, gambling with a potential incoming dry spell. Hitech kept Luke on wets, which was well-judged restraint as though he lost the lead temporarily, the rain started to fall again, and many drivers had to switch from their slicks. He retook position soon after. Meanwhile, in the melée James Wharton was moving into points contention, running as high as P8 at one stage.

A hoped-for shower later in the race never transpired and the drying track handed the advantage to those who had switched back to the hard tyre, again plunging Luke and James down the order to finish P8 and P20 respectively. Cian suffered a DNF early in the race.

It turned out to be a tumultuous home event that knocked Luke off the championship top spot and into third, nine points adrift of Mini, calling for another big comeback in the remaining three rounds.


Sprint Race Result – Saturday

Cian Shields – 17th

James Wharton – 18th

Luke Browning – 24th


Feature Race Result – Sunday

Luke Browning – 8th – 6 points (including 2 points for Feature Race Pole)

James Wharton – 20th

Cian Shields – DNF


Up next, Round 8 of the campaign takes the Formula 3 grid to Budapest’s Hungaroring (19-21 July)

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