Santino Ferrucci dominated the first race of the British Formula 3 Championship weekend at Brands Hatch to take a pole-to-flag win.
The American, having a one-off outing with Fortec Motorsport during the break in the European F3 calendar, used the set of tyres he saved from qualifying, in which he made only one run.
Ferrucci made a great start to take the lead from fellow front-row man Martin Cao, and instantly pulled out a comfortable gap.
“I did a practice start, which I completely botched so bad,” said the 16-year-old.
“But I got a really good start when it mattered and we’d got the car right on – the tyres helped at the start, I pulled out a gap and then I just had to be consistent.”
In second place, Cao’s Fortec machine pulled out a cavernous gap on the rest of the field, which was initially headed by Peter Li.
Matt Rao’s pressure paid off on the fifth lap when he dived down the inside of the Chinese racer at Clearways, and on the following lap Dan Wells and Max Marshall both found a way past Li on the Grand Prix circuit loop.
Third place for Rao would have been enough for him to cling onto the championship lead by one point from Cao, but with just under three laps remaining he looped his Fortec car into a spin at Druids.
That promoted the Double R Racing car of Wells to third. Although a charging Rao did his best to repass Wells, the F3 race debutant held on by setting his personal fastest lap on the final tour.
The bitter pill of losing the points advantage to Cao was sweetened when Rao was drawn on pole position for Sunday’s reversed-grid race, with Wells alongside on the front row.
Camren Kaminsky also managed to find a way past Li and the American then moved onto the tail of the sister Double R car of Max Marshall, but the American couldn’t get close enough to make a move, allowing former drifting ace Marshall to take fifth.
Results - 23 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Santino Ferrucci Fortec Dallara-Merc 31m07.362s 2. Martin Cao Fortec Dallara-Merc +3.250s 3. Dan Wells Double R Dallara-Merc +24.345s 4. Matt Rao Fortec Dallara-Merc +24.522s 5. Max Marshall Double R Dallara-Merc +37.267s 6. Camren Kaminsky Double R Dallara-Merc +37.447s 7. Peter Li Carlin Dallara-VW +44.626s