- Seventh place enough for Lando to put his points tally out of reach with a race in hand
- Enaam Ahmed takes his first outright race win and Rookie class championship honours
BRANDS HATCH 10 OCTOBER, 2015 – A breathtaking penultimate round of the Ford EcoBoost-powered MSA Formula Championship saw Lando Norris set the seal on a brilliantly successful season, the Somerset 15-year-old securing championship victory with a seventh-place finish, right on the tail of his chief title rival Ricky Collard. Meanwhile at the front of the field, another 15-year-old, Londoner Enaam Ahmed, took his maiden outright race win in the series and with it the Rookie class championship title.
Norris needed to finish no more than one place behind Collard to earn enough points to put his tally beyond Ricky’s reach ahead of tomorrow’s final round and that’s exactly what the Carlin man achieved despite Collard’s best efforts to pull clear of his tenacious pursuer.
Lando succeeded despite a late start to the race caused by lengthy pre-event track repairs, which led to badly fading light, to emerge as the FIA Formula 4 Champion of Great Britain. He was delighted and relieved in equal measure: “It was a tough race and I’m really relieved to have got through it. It was getting so dark out there and at one stage I had to pass Dan Baybutt around the outside so that I get on to Ricky’s tail; it was pretty scary. It was tough out there and hard to see. But I finished where I finished and the job is done, and now I can go out tomorrow in the final race and enjoy myself.”
The race was a cracker from the outset, with Collard’s TRS Arden team-mates Sandy Mitchell and Ahmed getting storming starts from second and fourth on the grid. Mitchell overcame pole-sitter Baybutt (JTR) through Paddock Hill Bend to take command of the race, with Ahmed relieving SWB Motorsport man Rafael Martins of second place on lap two. Mitchell and Ahmed then circulated nose-to-tail for the whole race, with Sandy ahead by a whisker and equal to his team-mate’s many challenges.
But a slight error from Mitchell – by now suffering from a badly steamed-up visor – on the final lap gave Ahmed the inch he needed to launch an attack around the outside at Hawthorns, one of the quickest corners on the Brands Grand Prix circuit. It was a brave manoeuvre but it paid off for Enaam, who finished the final lap 1.1s clear of Sandy for his first MSA Formula win. “I got a run on Sandy at Surtees and carried the momentum down the hill,” said Enaam. “I got alongside him and thought ‘it’s the last lap – go for it’ and I kept it flat. Usually it’s not flat! I slid and we touched but I got through… Mad!”
Added a disappointed Sandy: “I was a bit slow out of Surtees, and my visor was steamed up – I wouldn’t blame it on that but it didn’t help. It was all a bit unfortunate. We were both lucky to finish to be honest because we clipped wheels…”
Martins drove his most convincing race since his Thruxton podium finish to keep tabs on the frontrunners throughout, and held off the much more experienced Toby Sowery (MBM Motorsport) to the end to make it an all-rookie podium 1-2-3, the first of the season.
But all eyes were on the battle for fifth, which position was held from mid-distance onwards by Carlin’s Colton Herta. The American, struggling with tyre wear, had Collard in his mirrors all the way to the line, Ricky well aware that if he could put another car between himself and his pursuer Norris, he might be able to carry the championship battle down to the wire tomorrow.
Herta held steady to the end for fifth, however, with Collard and Norris in line astern, just six-tenths separating them at the flag. Sennan Fielding (JHR), James Pull (Fortec) and Baybutt completed the top 10, ahead of Carlin’s Petru Florescu and Fortec man Josh Smith.
Provisional results Round 29 Brands Hatch 10 October 2015
14 laps / 34.06 miles
1 Enaam AHMED / GBR / TRS Arden 20m 48.766s / 98.20mph
2 Sandy MITCHELL / GBR / TRS Arden +1.177s
3 Rafael MARTINS / BRA / SWB +1.470s
4 Toby SOWERY / GBR / MBM +1.507s
5 Colton HERTA / USA / Carlin +3.793s
6 Ricky COLLARD / GBR / TRS Arden +4.005s
7 Lando NORRIS / GBR / Carlin +4.443s
8 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR +6.743s
9 James PULL / GBR / Fortec +10.541s
10 Daniel BAYBUTT / GBR / JTR +12.026s etc
Fastest lap Norris 1m 27.165s / 100.49mph
Rookie class 1 Ahmed; 2 Mitchell; 3 Martins; 4 Baybutt; 5 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin; 6 Josh SMITH / GBR / Fortec; 7 Darius KARBALEY / GBR / Falcon; 8 Ameya VAIDYANATHAN / IND / JTR
Provisional championship standings
1 Norris 395 points; 2 Collard 367; 3 Herta 329; 4 Fielding 290; 5 Leist 267; 6 Dan Ticktum 242; 7 Mitchell 191; 8 Ahmed 161; 9 Martins 113; 10 Florescu 98 etc
Rookie class 1 Ahmed 414; 2 Ticktum 408; 3 Mitchell 383; 4 Baybutt 351; 5 Florescu 340 etc