- Colton Herta builds the biggest victory margin of the season as he leads home champion Norris for a Carlin 1-2
- Enaam Ahmed claims third place and another Rookie class win
BRANDS HATCH 11 OCTOBER, 2015 – With Lando Norris having secured the inaugural MSA Formula Championship crown at Brands Hatch yesterday, this afternoon’s grand finale of the Ford EcoBoost-powered junior single-seater series provided Lando and his Carlin team-mate Colton Herta with the opportunity to stage a formation finish to a super-successful year for the team.
It was Herta who finished in front – by the season’s largest victory margin, 7.5 seconds – with title-winner Norris a far from disappointed second to make it Carlin’s second 1-2 of the Brands weekend and the fifth of the season.
Norris started from the pole and led his team-mate into Paddock Hill Bend and most of the way to the end of the opening lap, but the champion erred at the final turn, carrying too much speed into Clark Curve to allow Colton to nip past for the lead. By the end of lap two the Californian was a second clear of his pursuer. Though Lando held the gap steady for four laps he was powerless to prevent Herta, on fresher Hankook tyres, from extending his advantage thereafter. Colton then drove home his advantage by setting a series of fastest laps, breaking Lando’s day-old lap record on the seventh tour, to cruise to victory.
Norris was upbeat despite his defeat: “I just pushed a little too hard on cold tyres. It was a hard race and I struggled with my tyres mainly; I used my best tyres yesterday and Colton had newer ones… But to finish second to my team-mate in the final race is not too bad an end to the season.”
Herta, for whom it was a fourth race win of the season, confirming him as championship third-place man behind Norris and Ricky Collard, added: “I knew Lando’s tyres were a bit older than mine so I expected him to struggle a bit. He made a little bit of a mistake and I capitalised on it. I think this is my best win yet and it’s a great way to end the year.”
The battle for third place was the highlight of the race. The newly crowned Rookie Champion, Enaam Ahmed, slotted ahead of his TRS Arden team-mate Collard on the opening lap and clung tenaciously to third all the way to the line despite very worn tyres and heavy pressure from behind, first from JHR Developments driver Sennan Fielding and then from MBM Motorsport man Toby Sowery.
“I was struggling a bit with worn tyres,” said Enaam, “which was an immediate disadvantage. I don’t really know how I stayed in third; my speed was not that great but I just stayed pretty consistent and Sennan didn’t quite have enough to overtake me but he definitely gave me a run for my money. Then on the final lap I had a little nudge from Toby around the back of the circuit, which was quite scary but I managed to hold it. It’s really great to end the season on such a high.” It was Ahmed’s fourth overall podium finish of the season and his sixth Rookie class victory.
Fielding, no doubt irritated by the imposition of a five-place grid penalty following a race two incident, started from eighth on the grid and was on a mission from the outset, moving into fourth past James Pull (Fortec) and Collard on the second lap to latch on to Ahmed’s tail. A brave move from Sowery on the penultimate lap dropped Sennan to fifth at the flag.
Like Fielding, Sowery had a go at dislodging Ahmed from third, the pair making brief contact on the final lap. “I had a run on him but he either didn’t accelerate or hit the brakes coming out of the corner, so the pass didn’t work out,” said Toby.
Pull came home right behind Sowery and Fielding for sixth, equalling his best result from the season’s second half, with Double R’s Matheus Leist an excellent seventh after starting from 14th on the grid, a legacy of his qualifying crash. Another with spent tyres was Collard, who slid back to eighth by the end.
It was a disappointing end to a fine season for championship runner-up Collard, who now has his sights set on a strong showing in the forthcoming McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year final. “To lose the championship to someone like Lando is no disgrace,” said Collard. “He is a world-class driver and he’s going to go a long way. I tried my hardest, and I tried to drag every last hundredth of a second out of the car – maybe sometimes I’ve tried a little too hard and it’s cost me some points – but this year I feel I have matured a lot as a driver and I hope that people can see that.
“My focus now is to do as well as I can in the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award. I feel very lucky to have been given all the opportunities that I’ve had and I’m really thankful to all my sponsors and also to the TRS Arden team, who have tried so hard for me this year. We’ve won together and we’ve lost together and I can’t emphasise that enough. It’s a shame that we haven’t quite managed to tick the championship-winning box this year but the team and everyone in it have been absolutely incredible, very special, and I’m really grateful.” Collard finished the race just ahead of his team-mate Sandy Mitchell with SWB Motorsport’s Rafael Martins 10th overall and third in the Rookie class, behind Ahmed and Mitchell.
The second half of the finishing order saw JTR’s Dan Baybutt home for 11th ahead of Petru Florescu (Carlin), Tarun Reddy (Double R) and Jack Butel (JHR), with JTR driver Ameya Vaidyanathan completing the top 15. Poor Josh Smith endured a miserable end to his season, his Fortec-prepared Racing Steps Foundation car dumped out of 12th place on lap five after Reddy made an ill-judged exit from Graham Hill Bend which led to contact. Smith limped to the pits and finished 19th, a lap in arrears and Reddy was penalised with two penalty points on his racing licence.
Provisional results Round 30 Brands Hatch 11 October 2015
14 laps / 34.06 miles
1 Colton HERTA / USA / Carlin 20m 30.188s / 99.69mph
2 Lando NORRIS / GBR / Carlin +7.560s
3 Enaam AHMED / GBR / TRS Arden +11.404s
4 Toby SOWERY / GBR / MBM +11.901s
5 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR +12.133s
6 James PULL / GBR / Fortec +12.153s
7 Matheus LEIST / BRA / Double R +12.536s
8 Ricky COLLARD / GBR / TRS Arden +24.663s
9 Sandy MITCHELL / GBR / TRS Arden +25.211s
10 Rafael MARTINS / BRA / SWB +25.928s etc
Fastest lap Herta 1m 26.778s / 100.94mph Rec
Rookie class 1 Ahmed; 2 Mitchell; 3 Martins; 4 Daniel BAYBUTT / GBR / JTR; 5 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin; 6 Ameya VAIDYANATHAN / IND / JTR; 7 Darius KARBALEY / GBR / Falcon; 8 Josh SMITH / GBR / Fortec
Provisional final championship standings
1 Norris 413 points; 2 Collard 371; 3 Herta 355; 4 Fielding 300; 5 Leist 273; 6 Dan Ticktum 242; 7 Mitchell 193; 8 Ahmed 176; 9 Martins 114; 10 Pull 104 etc
Rookie class 1 Ahmed 440; 2 Ticktum 408; 3 Mitchell 401; 4 Baybutt 363; 5 Florescu 350; 6 Martins 325; 7 Smith 290; 8 Karbaley 142; 9 Vaidyanathan 110