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F3: Silverstone slipstream ‘more effective than anticipated’ but ‘bit tricky’

by Ida Wood

Photo: Formula Motorsport Ltd

FIA Formula 3 drivers have mixed feelings about the effectiveness and the impact of the slipstream at Silverstone this weekend.

The British track is the second fastest on the calendar in terms of average speed over the lap, and features several straights with overtaking opportunities.

Formula Scout asked the top three qualifiers if slipstreaming had come into play during Friday’s action, and what impact they anticipated for the races.

“Slipstream here is actually quite more effective than I anticipated,” replied Campos Racing’s Pepe Marti, who qualified third.

“In the first run of free practice I had no slipstreaming and I was losing up to 0.2, 0.3 [seconds] on a lap compared to my team-mate who was in a slipstream. So that was a bit of a surprise. Obviously you have clean air in sector two, so you kind of make it back up more or less in terms of downforce performance.

“But at the same time, it’s so difficult to predict downforce. And when you’re doing the push lap, you’re not really thinking about ‘if my gap’s four seconds [to the car in front], then I have more downforce and I can push more, and if it’s 1.5s I can push less’. You more or less throw it in and hope it sticks. So obviously it’s quite difficult.

“I think for the racing it’s going to be quite effective. Obviously this track is hard to overtake anyways because you have Maggotts and Becketts before the longer straight, so it’s going to make it tough. But I feel like we can get some good racing. A lot like we did last year.”

Trident’s poleman Leonardo Fornaroli added: “I think slipstream here is quite important. If you have the right gap to the car in front, you can take a good tow in the straights without any dirty air in the fast corners. On the race I think it would be a bit tricky because all the cars could be very close, so the dirty air will be high for me. So tyre management also will be very important for Sunday with this effect.

His team-mate Oliver Goethe, who qualified second, said he was in agreement.

“Slipstream here, there’s some really long straights so it can be effective. But if you get too close, then you can lose quite a lot, especially in the high-speed corners. And there’s quite a lot here like through Maggotts and Becketts, with the dirty air effect. So you need to manage it well, and it’s a bit of a risk to take one if you’re catching the car ahead, for example.”