Championship leader Enaam Ahmed continued his stunning start to the 2017 BRDC British Formula 3 campaign by taking his fifth and sixth wins of the season at Snetterton, surpassing last year’s best win tally in the process.
Returning to the scene of his 2016 British F3 Autumn Trophy triumph, the BRDC Rising Star claimed two dominant victories to make it six wins out of a possible nine so far this season. In scoring his sixth victory of the year, Ahmed has now recorded more wins after three meetings in 2017 than any driver managed throughout the entirety of last season.
Enaam also set a hat-trick of fastest laps over the course of the weekend – the second time he has achieved the feat this year – including the fastest-ever lap in race-trim around Snetterton in BRDC British F3 history, beating the previous lap time set by former Carlin driver Ricky Collard in 2016 by half a second. His strong weekend has extended his points advantage in the drivers’ championship standings, moving him onto a total of 241 points, 44 points clear of nearest rival and Carlin teammate Cameron Das.
The Carlin driver laid down his intentions by setting the pace around the 2.9-mile Norfolk circuit during Thursday and Friday testing, posting the outright fastest lap times on both days. Come qualifying on Saturday morning, a sudden downpour left the track drenched and made for treacherous conditions in the 30-minute shootout for pole position.
Ahmed set the pace early on and initially sat on provisional pole as he and Carlin stablemate James Pull traded fastest laps. Pull lowered the benchmark just before a red flag period was needed to recover Nick Worm’s stranded car. With the track rapidly drying, the battle for pole between the two drivers came down to a case of last man over the line. As a result, Pull, who was around half a lap behind Ahmed on track, was ultimately able to snatch the first spot on the grid. For Enaam, second place and his best qualifying result of the season thus far would have to do.
A rather uncharacteristic sluggish start in the opening race of the weekend meant Enaam lost out to Lanan Racing’s Toby Sowery heading into Riches for the first time, though he was able to gain the place back at the end of the lap with an opportunistic pass into the fast, sweeping right-hander of Coram in a move that once again highlighted his racecraft and overtaking prowess.
The 17-year-old stole the race lead on the following lap when he surged past Pull after his teammate ran wide heading onto the back straight. Having safely negotiated a safety car period to recover Omar Ismail’s missing Chris Dittmann Racing car, Ahmed pulled away to seal a comfortable victory as he crossed the line nearly 3s clear of Pull.
Lining up from eighth in Sunday’s partially reversed grid race, a fast start enabled Enaam to jump Pull and move up to seventh, before dispatching Double R Racing’s Jamie Chadwick of sixth soon after – a position he would hold to the finish. Ahmed dropped back from Sowery to find some clean air and focus on setting that all-important fastest lap. On the penultimate tour, Enaam posted a blistering time of 1:43.383s to smash the previous best set by Collard (1:43.884) by 0.5s and claim pole for the final race.
It was another commanding performance from the Briton in the weekend finale, as a great launch saw Ahmed maintain his lead into Riches. Enaam spent the first half of the race bedding in a new set of left-hand side tyres as Sowery remained in contention just 0.5s behind at mid-distance. A succession of fastest laps helped Ahmed ease clear as he expertly managed a 2s gap to extend his record of six wins from the opening nine races.
Speaking of his weekend, Enaam said: “We’ve had great pace here all weekend and I knew that it was going to be one of my strongest tracks of the season – so it’s good to capitalise on that with win number six. Toby [Sowery] was really quick, especially in the opening laps when it took me a little while to get my tyres in, so he pushed me in the first part of the race. It’s been a great season so far but we all have our strengths and weaknesses – this track is a strength for me so it will be interesting to see what happens elsewhere in the season.”
Ahmed returns to action in just under two weeks’ time, as the BRDC British F3 Championship reaches its halfway point for Rounds 10, 11, and 12 on June 10-11 at the home of British motorsport, Silverstone.
Press release by Lewis Larkam