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BRDC British Formula 3 2017 season review

by Ida Wood

Photos: Jakob Ebrey Photography

British Formula 3 has had a very complicated history since its inception in 1951. At one point there were four national championships, and the British Racing Drivers Club ran its own championship throughout the 1970s.

There was a successful unification ahead of 1979, and a single championship ran from then until its demise in 2014.

The BRDC British Formula 4 championship then took over the name in 2016, with Matheus Leist winning the title.

Enaam Ahmed finished fifth, and vowed to return in 2017 for a title campaign. One of his other aims was the outright record for wins in a season, set by Jan Magnussen in 1992, rather than the record set by Ricky Collard and Toby Sowery in 2016.

This meant Ahmed needed to win 15 of the 24 races, but he was up against the returning Sowery and Ben Hingeley, and F4 graduates James Pull and Cameron Das, both at Carlin as his team-mates.

Enaam Ahmed ENGLAND Carlin
1st in standings, 654 points (13 wins, 8 poles, 13 fastest laps)


Ahmed got off to a blinding start, winning the first four races and demonstrating impressive levels of racecraft. This wasn’t all positive though, as Carlin team-mate Cameron Das beat Ahmed to pole on three of the first four occasions, and self-inflicted mistakes meant he finished in eighth twice at Rockingham.

His self-determination to improve meant he was back on top at Snetterton, winning twice there, as well as at Spa-Francorchamps, Brands Hatch and the second visit to Snetterton.

At the season finale at Brands Hatch, having already wrapped up the title, he only won once, and he failed to match even that at Silverstone. The British Grand Prix circuit was Ahmed’s weakest of the season, and although he finished on the podium twice, he was convincingly beaten by Toby Sowery.

Ahmed was the pacesetter at six of the eight rounds, and tops the 2017 supergrid. His average of 100.020% across the season was 0.266% ahead of Sowery, his closest rival on pace.

Ahmed’s tally of 13 wins was 12 more than in 2016, and he attributes that partly to Roberto Streit, his new-for-2017 driver coach.

“He?s one of the best driver coaches out there. He has a lot of experience in the business. He’s one of the only coaches to really transfer his experience into improving your driving. He?s one of the coaches that gives you a thing to think about and believes I can do it.”

Ahmed’s 2016 season was riddled with inconsistency, and it was one of the main things the Briton worked on during the off season. As well as driving for Carlin, he also worked every week in the workshop, truly immersing himself in the team.

“Carlin had a really strong package,?I had the experience and am being more mature,” Ahmed reflects.

“Definitely more experience, and just getting older, I guess. My experience has shown in helping my team-mates.”

“This season I?ve been pushing myself. I?ve been competing against myself and working really hard in the areas I wanted to improve on.”

Toby Sowery ENGLAND Lanan Racing
4th in standings, 432 points (2 wins, 2 poles, 6 fastest laps)


Sowery should rightfully have finished second in the standings, and the reason he didn’t was one the Lanan Racing driver should be happy with.

Already a champion in the MSV F3 Cup and MRF Challenge, Sowery was ideally placed to win the 2017 British F3 championship, having finished third the season before.

He won four races last year, and although he only topped the podium twice this year, he was a better all-round driver, and lost a third victory in scrutineering.

The beginning of the season did’t quite go to plan, with Lanan down on pace, but after the team shed its second car and all energy was focused on Sowery, it came alight.

Sowery was in control at Silverstone, and was on the podium in six of the next nine races.

In the second race at Brands Hatch, Sowery drove brilliantly to pass, and then pull away from Krishnaraaj Mahadik to win, but was then disqualified after his car failed to meet the eligibility criteria.

The 25 points that went missing would’ve put him third in the standings, all the more impressive because Sowery wasn’t present during the final round of the season.

Sowery had a top seat in Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia, and had become one of the most impressive drivers in the category.

Clashing dates meant Sowery had to prioritise one over the other, and with a potential long-term future with the iconic Italian supercar brand, the 21-year-old from Cambridgeshire chose to forego the F3 finale.

Ben Hingeley?ENGLAND Fortec
3rd in standings, 444 points (4 wins, 1 pole, 1 fastest lap)

Hingeley had a breakout season in 2017, his second in BRDC British F3.

He was very rarely the outright fastest, coming in fifth on the 2017 supergrid, but won four times, second only to Ahmed, and was in contention for second in the standings.

Errors at Brands Hatch meant he failed to finish two of the races, and the points lost there explained most of the gap to Pull.

His racecraft was often brilliant to watch, and like Ahmed did in 2016, a part-season in Euroformula Open with Fortec gained him some valuable experience and exposure.

Hingeley set top 10 pace for Jenzer Motorsport in the post-season GP3 test at Abu Dhabi, and looks set for European F3 with Hitech GP.

James Pull?ENGLAND?Carlin
2nd in standings, 490 points (1 pole)

Pull, like Ahmed, is in his third year of car racing, and it was remarkable that he went the whole of the 2017 season without winning a race.

The Singapore-born British Malaysian finished second seven times, with a further seven podiums coming his way across the season. This tally was only bettered by Ahmed, and on four occasions it was the champion who was the only man preventing Pull from finishing on the top step of the podium.

Pull was the third fastest driver across the season, taking his only pole in the wet, and finished second in the standings thanks to the non-presence of Toby Sowery in the season finale.

Regardless it was an impressive season, finishing all but one race and finishing in the top 10 in all but three.

Although he was convincingly beaten by Ahmed, he established himself against the highly rated Cameron Das, who also drove for Carlin. The pair were close on pace, but Pull’s racecraft meant he finished ahead of the American more often than not, although Das was able to win a race.

Pull will start his 2018 season with an attack on the Toyota Racing Series title.

Cameron Das?USA Carlin
5th in standings, 425 points (1 win, 4 poles, 4 fastest laps)

Cameron Das

American F4 champion Das learnt a lot this year, and he learnt quick.

Having Ahmed as a benchmark proved to be a great tool for Das, and he beat Ahmed to three of the first four poles.

He only took pole on one other occasion, and overall the results from the second half of the season didn’t match the first.

A 10 race run without a podium dropped him from second in the standings at Snetterton to fifth, and although he was a step above the remaining drivers in the standings, and on talent, he was the third Carlin man at the races most of the time.

Das did win a race though, in the fifth race of the season, and it was one of the most accomplished victory drives by anybody.

The American’s raw pace was superb, and he was neck-and-neck with Carlin team-mate Pull for third on the 2017 supergrid.

Prior to the Donington Park season finale, Das signed a deal with Campos Racing to race in EF Open. He finished in the points on four occasions, and ended the season in 15th, four places and 31 points behind Hingeley, who contested the same events.

Jordan Cane ENGLAND Douglas Motorsport
8th in standings, 288 points (3 wins)

Cane is a talent to watch, and proved that his under par USF2000 season in 2016 was a one-off.

The 16-year-old contested practice for the opening round of the season at Oulton Park, but didn’t make his debut till the third round at Snetterton, having not previously been old enough to race.

He immediately made an impact, winning on his second attempt, and was a consistent threat throughout the rest of the season.

Cane won twice more, both times in reversed grid races, and finished four of the last five races on the podium.

For 2018, he will be driving in the Formula Renault Eurocup with Fortec, having shown strongly in the official 2017 post-season test.

Callan O’Keeffe SOUTH AFRICA Douglas Motorsport
6th in standings, 373 points


O’Keeffe could probably have skipped the final round of the season and still finished a clear sixth in the standings, but with his single-seater experience he would have been expected to finish higher.

In the first half of the season he was on the podium three times, and was only outside of the top five twice. But as the rest of the grid started gaining from their time in the Tatuus British F3 car he slipped down the pecking order, and didn’t visit the podium again.

He was a consistent scorer though, and only ended four races across the whole season outside of the top ten.

For all his European pedigree, he was new to most of the British circuits, and his Douglas Motorsport car was not the quickest, but Cane showed the sort of performances that may have been possible.

He obviously has an affinity to the Tatuus chassis used though, as he was third fastest in the Chris Griffis Memorial Test in the USF2000 variant of the car for BN Racing, having made his debut in the championship at the beginning of the year. A full-time move there could be possible in 2018.

Chase Owen USA Hillspeed with Cliff Dempsey Racing
7th in standings, 302 points (1 fastest lap)

FF1600 frontrunner Owen made a big step up in 2017, and did so with the assistance of the team that ran him in FF1600.

Owen was the BRSCC Northern champion in 2016, and runner-up in the National championship with Cliff Dempsey Racing.

The successful FF1600 team stepped up to British F3 this year in a short-lived partnership with Hillspeed, with Owen occupying the only full-time seat.

Both parties initially struggled, with Owen only breaking into the top 10 four times in the first 12 races.

A breakthrough came at Silverstone, and Owen was in the top 10 for the next eight races. He even broke into the top five at Silverstone, finishing fourth after benefiting from mistakes from those ahead.

He didn’t repeat that feat until the final round of the season, where he finished second in the reversed grid race and very well could’ve won. Donington Park was his most convincing display of the season, and showed how much he improved throughout his first season in winged machinery.

Owen also dabbled in sportscars this year, driving prototype and GT4 machinery.

Jamie Chadwick ENGLAND Double R
9th in standings, 264 points

2015 British GT4 champion Chadwick made her single-seater debut in 2017, and by no means embarrassed herself.

Although on average she was one of the slower drivers, coming in in 17th on the supergrid, she benefited from being an experienced and composed racer, and finished in the top ten 13 times.

At Rockingham, an eighth place in the first race meant she started the second race from pole, and she did well to hold on for a podium. Lap one contact meant she received a grid penalty for the next race, costing her a potential top five finish.

Rockingham proved to be her strongest weekend, as her rate of progress was matched, if not bettered, by those around her.

She still finished ninth in the standings though, better than Hingeley achieved in his first year in the championship, and ended her season with a successful cameo in the Walter Hayes Trophy.

The rest

Nicolai Kjaergaard stepped up from British F4 as a midfielder, and maintained that reputation in F3. Of the drivers who contested the majority of the season, he was around 10th fastest, and this was reflected in his race results, with 13 instances where he finished between eighth and 12th position.

Eighteen-year-old Omar Ismail has been racing in the championship since the days it was known as BRDC F4, and has not recaptured the form he showed back in 2015. This year he did finish on the podium, but finished outside of the top 10 more often than not, and ended his season early.

Manuel Maldonado is on an upwards projectory. In 2016, the younger cousin of grand prix winner Pastor was a backmarker in Italian F4, but showed he was capable of more than that at the end of the year when he entered MRF Challenge.

He repeated that kind of midfield form in F3, finishing in the top 10 nine times, but was was towards the back of the field on pace. He’s improving though, as his recent MRF Challenge results have shown.

Guilherme Samaia was a rare case of a driver whose race results failed to match his superior qualifying speed. The Brazilian was the 12th fastest on pace, but taking away part-timers like Alex Quinn and Linus Lundqvist meant he was on average the ninth fastest man in the field.

He finished in the top 10 nine times, and quite tellingly, two of those occasions resulted in podiums.

His finishing record was the worst on the grid, with seven non-finishes to his name, and as shown by his championship winning F3 campaign at home, Samaia should have achieved a lot more.


Jeremy Wahome was almost the twice the man he was in 2016, and achieved considerably more success. He finished sixth twice, and picked up 67 more points than he did last year, despite competing in three less races.

German karting graduate Nick Worm was near enough the slowest driver in the field, but stuck by the ‘Keep Fighting’ mantra and foundation he promoted, and ending up closing the gap to Ahmed on relative pace by 2% by season’s end. The similarly inexperienced?Aaron di Comberti?also impressed, finishing in the top 10 five times during his half-season.

Krishnaraaj Mahadik contested almost the entirety of the 2016 season with Chris Dittmann Racing, and only troubled the top 10 once.

For 2017 he scaled back his programme to a two round run with Double R Racing, and left with two eighths, a sixth, two fifths and a win. If he had contested the whole season and maintained that level of results, he would’ve finished sixth in the standings.

After a British F4 season that was asking for more, Alex Quinn stepped up a class for the final round of the season.

Replacing the absent Toby Sowery at Lanan Racing, he was immediately at top ten pace, and improved over the weekend as he got more experience.?The third and final of his three race sojourn resulted in a podium, and he was a remarkable sixth on the supergrid, above drivers like O’Keeffe, Cane and Owen.

Double R’s British F4 driver Linus Lundqvist?made an an appearance for their British F3 team at?Spa-Francorchamps, and he didn’t disappoint. The laid back Swede finished seventh in the third race, and like British F4 rival Quinn, showed a tremendous level of pace that left him ninth on the supergrid come the end of the year.

A planned duel campaign in EF Open and British F3 only lasted one round for Petru Florescu, although a top ten finish at his first attempt and 11th on the supergrid indicates that had it continued, the Romanian may have been a threat at the front.

Florescu is talented, but his 2017 season has just been too broken up to properly showcase that.

F4 race-winners?Tristan Charpentier?and Harry Hayek?both scored strongly during their short stint in the championship, while Asian Formula Renault race-winner Pavan Ravishankar finished 10th twice in his sole appearance.

Further reading
Why Enaam Ahmed feels ready to win a single-seater title
The man who unearthed Britain’s latest single-seater champion