DRIVER NEWS: Lightning Lando takes MSA Formula title

Report supplied by driver’s PR

DRIVER NEWS 12 OCTOBER, 2015 – Super Somerset driver Lando Norris claimed the inaugural MSA Formula Championship title – after another brilliant weekend’s racing. The 15-year-old Carlin racer notched up his eighth win of the season to become the FIA Formula 4 Champion of Great Britain with a race to spare at Brands Hatch.

Adding to the huge tally of titles to his name, he reaffirmed his status as one of the world’s most exciting young drivers. And the ADD Motorsports-supported driver was delighted to have finished the job a race early rather than rely on a nail-biting final outing. He said: “It feels really good to take the title, it’s a great Championship to win. Carlin has done a brilliant job in getting me to this point, along with my engineer Stefan de Groot and performance team ADD Motorsports.

“I drove really well to get the win I needed in the first race, but I was pretty nervous during the second race as I didn’t want to make a mistake and have it go down to the final day. But I made a bit of a risky move to make sure I got where I needed to be and took the title. It’s been another great season.”

Lando’s latest title win is certainly no fluke, coming on the back of several brilliant trophy-laden seasons. He signed off from his glittering karting career last year as the youngest ever World Championship winner when he took the CIK FIA KF crown, also finishing third in the Ginetta Junior Championship and taking the Rookie Cup. He also took the Formula Kart Stars series title in 2012 and won the WSK Euro Series, CIK FIA European Championship and CIK FIA Supercup a year later.

Lando went into the final weekend of the MSA Formula Championship 13 points ahead of closest rival Ricky Collard – as he looked to add another trophy to his cabinet. He made sure he gave himself the best possible chance of extending this lead by getting the fastest lap in qualifying, with his second fastest lap good enough to see him get pole for the final race as well.

Despite not getting off to the best of starts, the racer soon put some distance between himself and Carlin team-mate Colton Herta. By the end of the sixth lap he had a 1.7 second advantage, although Herta made Lando work hard for the victory at the end.

But it meant the teen needed to finish the second race no more than one place behind Collard to clinch the title early. He started the partial reverse grid in eighth, but soon found himself ninth and a few drivers away from where he needed to be. But half-way through the race, he saw an opportunity to overtake Dan Baybutt. It was a fast corner and a risky move, but he got in front and then spent the remainder of the race closing in on Collard ahead.

At the finish he found out his seventh place was enough to win the title – although he managed another second-place podium on Sunday in the third race for good measure. As well as taking the title, Lando also wins an F3 test with a European team and 10 FIA F1 Superlicence points.

He now plans on having a well-deserved break before hopefully moving on to Formula Renault next season on his quest to one-day move into F1.

A delighted Lando added: “It was the perfect way to finish the season off. I want to thank Trevor Carlin and the rest of the team for all their work this year, my sponsors and my parents for supporting me along the way. I’m looking forward to a short break before moving on to the next step in my career.”

Lando Norris: MSA Formula Champion in profile

BRANDS HATCH 11 OCTOBER, 2015 – A worthy champion with a bright future ahead of him in motor sport – that’s 15-year-old Lando Norris, who yesterday clinched the inaugural MSA Formula crown, and with it the coveted title FIA Formula 4 Champion of Great Britain.

Eight race wins and six second-place finishes at the wheel of his Ford EcoBoost-powered and Carlin-prepared car gave Lando the points he needed to claim the title with a race in hand, but the statistics are only part of the story. His cool, calm and collected demeanour at the wheel and impressive ability in testing and qualifying are the key elements to his success in the toughest junior single-seater series in the UK.

Somerset-based Norris was just four months past his 15th birthday when he claimed victory in the first MSA Formula race at Brands Hatch in April but he came to the championship with multiple karting titles to his name and useful race-winning experience in cars gained during the 2014 Ginetta Junior sports car series. Despite this, he says, he took time to settle into the new world of single-seaters: “It was quite a big jump for me, quite different to what I was used to. It took a bit of time to settle in and the team were a great help.

“Carlin have done a great job for me all year, right from the start. We’ve had fewer mechanical problems than the other teams and that’s basically because they’ve worked harder. In pre-season testing it was reliability that we really focused on – not making the car fast but making sure that we didn’t have any mechanical issues later on. After that we were able to really work on the speed of the car.

“We struggled a bit for pace at the start of the season compared with some teams but since the middle of the year we’ve really stepped up to the point where we’ve had a good advantage over the rest of the field.”

Following his twin wins at Brands Hatch at the start of the year, victories followed at Thruxton, Oulton Park, Knockhill, Rockingham, Silverstone and the Brands GP circuit, assisted greatly by Lando’s stellar performances in qualifying. He was quickest in qualifying at five of the 10 meetings – no other driver managed it more than once – and he never qualified lower than second.

“Qualifying has been good,” says Norris. “Being in the top two at every meeting has made the racing easier. It’s hard to overtake and overtaking is something I still need to work on, but my speed in qualifying has always been really good. I’ve always felt confident in the car right from the first time I jumped in it, and that is the key to how I have performed.”

He’s enjoyed driving the Mygale-designed MSA Formula chassis as well as the power provided by the Ford EcoBoost engine: “As a starter formula I think it’s good. It’s a difficult car to be really fast in but it’s quite forgiving. I am sure that next year there will be a lot of new young drivers coming into MSA Formula and it will be a good car for them to learn in.”

Norris paid this tribute to Ricky Collard, with whom he has tussled all year for the championship lead: “I knew he would be a contender and he’s improved quite a bit; he’s very consistent and has won quite a few of the races, but he’s been quite unlucky sometimes. He’s been a great competitor to race against and good fun, he’s pushed me hard.”

As for his future, and in particular the 2016 season, Lando says: “Nothing is confirmed yet but we are looking at Formula Renault. Formula 3 is a big step, but it is also a possibility. In five years time I’d like to think that I’ll be in Formula 1. Racing is my priority for the future. There’s no rush at the moment, but hopefully by 2020 I will be on the brink of F1 or already in it.”

His MSA Formula victory will certainly help Lando with his ambition, for in addition to the silverware he wins an F3 test with a top European team and also 10 valuable FIA F1 Superlicence points.

Carlin team boss Trevor Carlin paid tribute to the hard work put in by Norris and the whole team: “We’re absolutely delighted that Lando has won the first ever MSA Formula title. He took the first ever win in the championship and has put in some fantastic performances since then to rack up eight wins and win the championship against some great competition. The effort the team put into this new championship even before the first race of the season was extremely significant and I’m so proud of every team member and the hard work they’ve put in. It’s been a delight to have this team and driver line-up.”

Norris secures championship title as Ahmed claims maiden win

  • 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

Full times

Norris edges closer to title with Brands Hatch victory

  • MSA Formula win number 8 for Lando Norris
  • Takes Carlin’s 300th motorsport win and heads home Colton Herta for a team 1-2
  • Ricky Collard claims third to keep alive his championship ambitions

BRANDS HATCH 10 OCTOBER, 2015 – Lando Norris led almost all the way at Brands Hatch this afternoon to clinch his eighth victory of the Ford EcoBoost-powered MSA Formula season, heading home his team-mate Colton Herta for what was the Carlin team’s 300th win in international motorsport. In so doing, Norris increases his championship points lead over Ricky Collard – who finished third for TRS Arden – to 29 points.

Other than for the first few yards of the race, Norris was in complete control. His only error came as the lights were extinguished to start the race and Herta made a better getaway from P2 on the grid to draw level with pole-sitter Lando as they hurtled towards Paddock Hill Bend. Said Norris: “Colton got a really good start and I didn’t get such a good one – he managed to get all the way alongside me pretty much but I think he maybe then missed a gear and that cost him. It could have been a completely different story but for that.”

Norris dug in to lead Herta over the line at the end of the first lap by half a second, building his advantage to 1.7 seconds by the end of the sixth. Thereafter Herta bit back to make Norris work hard for his victory – at the line they were separated by just 0.478s. “Colton certainly kept me on my toes the whole race,” said Lando, who came to Brands Hatch just a week after a big crash at Hockenheim in German F4. “Pole, win and fastest lap – it couldn’t get any better, especially coming after my crash last weekend in Germany. Luckily I wasn’t injured but it was a bit of a worry coming into this weekend. My win means I will start from seventh in the reverse-grid race with Ricky ahead of me, and I will have to work hard to get as many points as I can.”

Like Norris, Collard was beaten off the line by his team-mate, Enaam Ahmed’s TRS Arden machine getting clean in front through Paddock before Ricky reasserted himself at the Druids hairpin to reclaim third position. That was as much as Collard could do, however, his car lacking the pace of the Carlin machinery ahead. “It was like F4 versus F3 – the Carlin cars were in a league of their own,” said Ricky. “We just didn’t have the pace… Enaam made a really good start to pass me but I managed to get him around the outside into the hairpin. There was nothing I could do about Norris and Herta, though.”

Ahmed shadowed Collard all the way to the line for fourth and a clear Rookie class win – his fourth of the season. Said Enaam: “I’m disappointed I couldn’t get a podium but my pace was very similar to Ricky’s and I couldn’t pass him. My only chance came at the start.”

Sennan Fielding held fifth in the early stages for JHR Developments but front wing damage picked up in the pack in the early laps saw him retire to the pits after four laps. SWB Motorsport’s Rafael Martins took up the position, initially under pressure from James Pull (Fortec) until a sixth-lap clash between Pull and his pursuer, MBM Motorsport man Toby Sowery, gave Martins the break he needed to secure a top-five finish and second spot in the Rookie class.

Sandy Mitchell (TRS Arden) profited from the Pull/Sowery clash to move up and finish sixth, completing the Rookie podium, ahead of JTR’s Dan Baybutt, Sowery, Carlin man Petru Florescu and Pull.

It was a dismal day for Double R, with Matheus Leist forced on to the grass and out of the race at Graham Hill Bend on the opening lap and his team-mate Tarun Reddy retiring to the pits after just two laps. Ameya Vaidyanathan (JTR) and Darius Karbaley (Falcon) were casualties also, leaving just 14 finishers. Louise Richardson headed home Jack Butel for 11th with the finishing order completed by Greg Holloway and Josh Smith, who slipped to the tail of the field after a 10th-lap incident.

Provisional results Round 28 Brands Hatch 10 October 2015
14 laps / 34.06 miles
1 Lando NORRIS / GBR / Carlin 20m 31.783s / 99.56mph
2 Colton HERTA / USA / Carlin +0.478s
3 Ricky COLLARD / GBR / TRS Arden +8.957s
4 Enaam AHMED / GBR / TRS Arden +9.977s
5 Rafael MARTINS / BRA / SWB +21.783s
6 Sandy MITCHELL / GBR / TRS Arden +22.803s
7 Daniel BAYBUTT / GBR / JTR +22.980s
8 Toby SOWERY / GBR / MBM +24.899s
9 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin +26.907s
10 James PULL / GBR / Fortec +27.745s etc
Fastest lap Norris 1m 26.797s / 100.92mph Est Rec

Rookie class 1 Ahmed; 2 Martins; 3 Mitchell; 4 Baybutt; 5 Florescu; 6 Josh SMITH / GBR / Fortec

Grid for Round 29 Baybutt – Mitchell – Martins – Ahmed – Collard – Herta – Norris – Sowery – Florescu – Pull etc

Provisional championship standings
1 Norris 388 points; 2 Collard 359; 3 Herta 319; 4 Sennan Fielding 286; 5 Matheus Leist 266; 6 Dan Ticktum 242; 7 Mitchell 173; 8 Ahmed 136; 9 Martins 98; 10 Florescu 97 etc
Rookie class 1 Ticktum 408; 2 Ahmed 389; 3 Mitchell 365; 4 Baybutt 339; 5 Florescu 329 etc

Full times

Further qualifying success for Norris at Brands Hatch

  • Lando Norris heads a Carlin qualifying 1-2 to extend his championship lead
  • Colton Herta second fastest with Norris’s chief title rival Ricky Collard P4

BRANDS HATCH 10 OCTOBER, 2015 – Championship leader Lando Norris underlined his qualifying supremacy this morning at Brands Hatch, topping the timesheets for the fifth time this season. Fifteen-year-old Lando led home his team-mate Colton Herta by four-tenths of a second to make it an all-Carlin front row for this afternoon’s 28th round of the Ford EcoBoost-powered MSA Formula Championship, and it will be a Norris-Herta 1-2 on the grid for tomorrow’s live-televised final race also.

Norris is the only driver this season to have topped qualifying on more than one occasion and he was rightly pleased with his performance: “Everything went pretty well. I was a bit tense half-way through when we had a red flag period; at that point Colton was fastest by quite a way. But we tried something different when we went out again and it all paid off.”

Lando’s quickest lap was, at 1m 25.848, quicker than his Friday testing best by 0.38s; he was the only driver to dip under the 1m 26s mark and his second-best time, 1m 26.154s, was quicker than any of his rivals’ best times also.

With five points going to the driver scoring the quickest qualifying lap, Norris extends his championship lead over Ricky Collard to 18 points. After sustaining serious damage to his TRS Arden car in testing yesterday, Collard did well to bounce back in qualifying to set fourth-best time behind Norris, Herta and JHR Developments driver Sennan Fielding, but Ricky was nonetheless downcast: “It was another poor qualifying performance, another disappointment. I feel fine after yesterday but this will make things hard in the races. We will just have to hope for a bit of misfortune for the others.” Collard will start round 30 tomorrow, the grid for which is established by the drivers’ second-best qualifying times, from P6.

Fielding’s third place was his best qualifying showing of the season.

Collard’s TRS Arden team-mate Enaam Ahmed was fifth quickest – equalling his season-best qualifying performance – and was the leading Rookie driver by very nearly half a second. Toby Sowery completed the qualifying top six for MBM Motorsport with James Pull seventh for Fortec.

Eighth-placed Matheus Leist set a blazing pace early on for Double R Racing but overcooked it at Sheene on a hot lap, hooking a wheel on the wet grass and going off, damaging his front wing and prompting a brief stoppage to the session. “I just went on the grass and off. It was a really good lap… It happens,” said the Brazilian. Leist’s was the second red-flag incident, Darius Karbaley having been tipped into the gravel at Druids after a clash of wheels with Josh Smith early on in the session.

Carlin’s Petru Florescu and SWB Motorsport man Rafael Martins completed the top-10 order this morning, ahead of Sandy Mitchell (TRS Arden) and Dan Baybutt (JTR).

The action steps up a gear this afternoon at Brands Hatch with race one at 1400 and the reverse-grid race following at 1655. Tomorrow afternoon’s final round is live on ITV4 at 1500.

Provisional qualifying times Brands Hatch GP 10 October 2015
1 Lando NORRIS / GBR / Carlin 1:25.848
2 Colton HERTA / USA / Carlin 1:26.286
3 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR 1:26.689
4 Ricky COLLARD / GBR / TRS Arden 1:26.699
5 Enaam AHMED / GBR / TRS Arden 1:26.708
6 Toby SOWERY / GBR / MBM 1:26.864
7 James PULL / GBR / Fortec 1:26.918
8 Matheus LEIST / BRA / Double R 1:27.060
9 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin 1:27.191
10 Rafael MARTINS / BRA / SWB 1:27.280 etc

Round 28 grid order Norris – Herta – Fielding – Collard – Ahmed – Pull – Leist – Florescu – Martins – Sandy MITCHELL / GBR / TRS Arden – Sowery (5-place penalty) etc

Round 30 grid order (based on second-fastest times) Norris – Herta – Fielding – Ahmed – Sowery – Collard – Pull – Daniel BAYBUTT / GBR / JTR – Mitchell – Josh SMITH / GBR / Fortec etc

Full times

Norris dispels the doubts to lead the way in Ford-powered Brands test

  • Lando lands testing top spot ahead of his Carlin team-mate Colton Herta
  • High-speed crash for Ricky Collard hinders Arden man’s challenge

BRANDS HATCH 9 OCTOBER, 2015 – MSA Formula Championship leader Lando Norris erased any worries over his race fitness today with a test session-topping performance at Brands Hatch ahead of the weekend’s deciding rounds. The 15-year-old Ford EcoBoost-powered racer ended the day 0.146s ahead of his Carlin team-mate Colton Herta and professed himself more than ready for his date with championship destiny.

Norris suffered a high-speed crash at Hockenheim last weekend in the German F4 series and, after feeling his way back into things in this morning’s session, he shot to the top of the timesheets this afternoon. Said Lando: “I spent the first session getting back into it after the crash, and getting used to my car again, and I was pleased to end the session P2. This afternoon I really pushed as hard as I could. The car felt really good and I’m in good shape for the weekend.”

Today it was the turn of his chief title rival Ricky Collard to suffer a blow, the TRS Arden driver crashing out after just 10 laps of the first session and extensively damaging his car. “You couldn’t script a more dramatic end to the championship,” said Collard. “Lando crashes last weekend and me today… I don’t really know what happened; it just got away from me…”

Ricky went off at the super-fast Hawthorns bend, a smashed gearbox and severe suspension damage the result. The team worked wonders to get Ricky back on track for session two. “They did an amazing job and I’m so grateful to them,” said Ricky. “The car didn’t feel perfect by any means but we know what needs to be done to fix it so I will not be going into qualifying with an untried car.” Despite the car’s problems, Ricky set 12th-best time in the second session, just 1.7 seconds off Norris’s pace.

Thirteen championship points separate Lando and Ricky going into the Brands Hatch triple-header and, with five points on offer to the quickest driver in qualifying, tomorrow morning’s pre-race practice session will assume greater importance than ever.

Herta, P2 today and still with a mathematical chance of the title should Norris and Collard falter, has his eyes on the prize: “I’m just a bit off Lando’s pace, but I’m sure we can make that up and be on the front row after qualifying,” said the Californian.

There was a strong showing in testing today from Collard’s TRS Arden team-mates Enaam Ahmed and Sandy Mitchell, both of whom are bidding for Rookie class honours. Ahmed wound up third fastest and Mitchell fifth. They sandwiched Double R driver Matheus Leist, the Brazilian teen the only man quicker than Norris in session one.

The final championship title contender, JHR Developments driver Sennan Fielding, completed the testing top six, ahead of Fortec’s top runner James Pull, Daniel Baybutt for JTR and SWB Motorsport star Rafa Martins. Toby Sowery completed the top 10 for MBM Motorsport.

The MSA Formula stars are back on track at 9am Saturday for qualifying, and face two races on Saturday afternoon ahead of Sunday’s live-televised final round.

Leading testing times Brands Hatch GP 9 October 2015 (am/pm)
1 Lando NORRIS / GBR / Carlin 1:27.235 / 1:26.230
2 Colton HERTA / USA / Carlin 1:27.823 / 1:26.376
3 Enaam AHMED / GBR / TRS Arden 1:28.058 / 1:26.709
4 Matheus LEIST / BRA / Double R 1:27.199 / 1:26.744
5 Sandy MITCHELL / GBR / TRS Arden 1:29.040 / 1:26.879
6 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR 1:27.780 / 1:27.095
7 James PULL / GBR / Fortec 1:29.425 / 1:27.114
8 Daniel BAYBUTT / GBR / JTR 1:29.036 / 1:27.173
9 Rafael MARTINS / BRA / SWB 1:29.113 / 1:27.244
10 Toby SOWERY / GBR / MBM 1:28.682 / 1:27.341 etc

Full times

Down to the wire for Ford-powered heroes

  • Four drivers, headed by Lando Norris and Ricky Collard, up for the cup at Brands Hatch
  • Final three MSA Formula races promise plenty of action and excitement

5 OCTOBER, 2015 – They have been exchanging the lead of the Ford EcoBoost-powered MSA Formula Championship all season long, and next weekend at Brands Hatch Lando Norris and Ricky Collard will go head to head to determine which of them will claim the title FIA Formula 4 Champion of Great Britain.

In fact there are four drivers with a mathematical chance of title glory, but it is 15-year-old Norris and Collard, 19, who have the best shot at securing the most coveted championship in British single-seater racing.

In the blue corner for Carlin is Somerset-based Norris, the winner of seven races so far this year, his maiden season in single-seaters. In the red corner for TRS Arden is Hampshire’s Collard, son of BTCC ace Rob, who came to MSA Formula after gaining a year’s experience in Formula Ford. Collard has six race victories under his belt and trails Norris by 13 points.

The other drivers with an eye on the title are Norris’s Carlin team-mate Colton Herta and JHR Developments driver Sennan Fielding. With 25 points on offer to the winner of each of the three Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit races, plus five points for fastest lap in qualifying and a point for fastest lap in each race, both Herta and Fielding have a shot but would need some serious misfortune to befall both Norris and Collard…

Last time at Brands Hatch – on the Indy circuit in April – Norris and Collard set the tone for their seasons, Lando qualifying on the front row and racing to victory in the first and third races of the weekend, while Collard qualified mid-grid and took top-six finishes in the regular races, accompanied by a win in the reverse-grid race.

Lando is the only driver this season to have set the quickest lap in qualifying on more than one occasion. In fact, he has done it four times (at Oulton Park, Croft, Knockhill and Rockingham) and has never qualified outside the top two. By contrast Collard has made the top four in qualifying only four times, and has never achieved top spot.

Collard last week received a boost with the news that he has been selected, alongside fellow MSA Formula driver Toby Sowery, as one of the six finalists for the £100,000 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award, but he knows that if he is to wrest the MSA Formula crown from Norris’s fingers then he must qualify well at Brands Hatch. “If I can do the business in qualifying then the rest should be easy,” says Ricky. “My qualifying hasn’t been good this year but my ability to overtake is what has saved me, and that is something which Autosport has picked up on in my nomination.

“I am training so hard at the moment. I’ll be doing as much as I can this week on the simulator, and I shall try everything I can to get a good qualifying, and likewise the team is doing the same. If we can get inside the top two rows of the grid I think we will be in with a good shout. Our race pace has always been better than our qualifying pace, and I think the Carlin car has been very much the opposite. We are two completely different drivers as well. Lando’s really quick and I have a lot of respect for him, but I think he struggles in the pack. Whereas I am the opposite – I thrive in that sort of situation.”

For their part, Norris and the Carlin team will be approaching the finale in the same methodical and calm fashion that has brought them such success all year. “It should be really good,” said Lando. “The Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit is one of my favourite tracks; I won there last year and my pace is always good there. I just need to concentrate on my own race, try to get pole and go for the wins.”

Lando was lucky to emerge unhurt from an accident on Saturday at the Hockenheimring in Germany, where he was competing in the final meeting of the ADAC German F4 Championship. Norris clipped the rear of the car driven by his Muecke Motorsport team-mate David Beckmann, was launched into the air and rolled twice before coming to rest upside down in a gravel trap. He was taken to hospital for precautionary checks and later given the all clear.

If Norris cannot achieve a win, then a couple of good finishes ahead of Collard could be enough for him to stay in front in the points table. Here Lando’s team-mate Herta could help, and Colton will be keen to end his impressive maiden season of European racing on a high. Colton was 15 years and five days old when he took part in the first round in April; he’s not much older now (and is still the youngest in the field) but the Californian has matured impressively in the second half of the season to net eight podium finishes from the last 12 races.

Meanwhile, JHR Developments driver Fielding has the experience to score when it matters, and would be higher up in the points table but for mechanical bad luck. And there are plenty more potential race winners in the Brands Hatch field, such as Double R’s Brazilian ace Matheus Leist, who returned to winning ways last time out at Silverstone.

Collard’s TRS Arden team-mates Sandy Mitchell and Enaam Ahmed will be worth keeping an eye on also as they dispute which of them will end the season ahead in the Rookie championship. Quick young Scot Mitchell has won the class four times this season and Ahmed thrice, while JTR’s Dan Baybutt picked up his maiden Rookie wins at Silverstone.

The Brands Hatch action begins on Friday with two pre-event test sessions ahead of a busy Saturday schedule of qualifying and two races. Sunday afternoon’s 30th and final round of the championship will be screened live, between the closing rounds of the British Touring Car Championship, on ITV4.

Brands Hatch timetable
Friday 9 October 0950 & 1350 Testing
Saturday 10 October 0900 Qualifying, 1400 Round 28, 1655 Round 29
Sunday 11 October 1500 Round 30

On TV ITV4, live Sunday 1500

Seventh heaven for Ford-powered Lando at Silverstone

  • Norris extends his championship lead with win number seven
  • Lando leads home a Carlin 1-2 ahead of Colton Herta
  • Toby Sowery third for MBM Motorsport’s maiden podium finish

SILVERSTONE 26 SEPTEMBER, 2015 – Lando Norris boosted his MSA Formula Championship title hopes in style this afternoon, the Ford EcoBoost-powered driver claiming his seventh win of the season to extend his points lead. Fifteen-year-old Lando’s Carlin-prepared car led all the way from the first turn despite intense pressure from his team-mate Colton Herta to win by four-tenths of a second.

Norris seized the advantage off the line, getting away more smartly from P2 than did Double R’s Matheus Leist, who was starting from the pole for the first time after showing Norris and the rest the way to tackle a qualifying lap on the 1.6-mile Silverstone National circuit. Worse was soon to come for Leist, who out-braked himself into Maggotts and slipped to fourth behind Herta and MBM Motorsport’s Toby Sowery.

By the end of the second lap and thanks to Leist’s error, Norris led Herta by nine-tenths of a second, but that was as comfortable an advantage as Lando would be allowed for the duration of the race as the American, the youngest in the field, posted fastest lap after fastest lap in his pursuit. By the end of the fifth lap Colton was a car’s length behind and looking to take advantage of any errors which Lando might make.

The long slipstream down Wellington straight offered Herta the chance to close in on his team-mate, and twice he tried to carry that momentum through with a challenge at Luffield. Norris was equal to the moves, however, and fended him off each time.

Said Norris from the podium after the second successive Carlin 1-2: “It was mainly down to the start and managing to get in front, and then I had Colton pressuring me for the whole race. There were a couple of times he had a good go at me; he did a good job. Winning today is good for my championship hopes; it will be hard for me in race two, and then hopefully race three tomorrow [from which Lando will start from pole] can be just like this…”

Added Herta: “It’s hard to pass here; I thought it would be easier. These are such fast corners. I had two or three goes at it but Luffield is really not a great passing place.”

After his first-lap error, Leist quickly composed himself to put pressure on third-placed Sowery but his pace faded as the race wore on, allowing Toby a relatively easy run to the MBM team’s maiden MSA Formula podium finish. “It was a bit of a dull way to get my first podium,” said Toby, “because I was on my own for most of the time. The start was quite hard and Matheus was close to me early on but then he dropped back. I’m really happy for the team to get their first podium.”

Norris’s closest championship rival, TRS Arden man Ricky Collard, started fifth and finished fifth, shadowing Leist to the line and finishing comfortably clear of Fortec driver Dan Ticktum in sixth. Ticktum was later excluded from the results of the Silverstone meeting.

JHR Developments driver Sennan Fielding made steady progress in the early laps after a troubled qualifying to improve to sixth from his 11th-place start slot but could do little about reeling in those in front. JTR’s Dan Baybutt collected seventh, his best finish since Oulton Park in June, ahead of TRS Arden man Sandy Mitchell; with Ticktum’s exclusion, Baybutt was the Rookie class winner, ahead of Mitchell.

James Pull battled through from 15th on the grid for Fortec to take ninth, ahead of Rafael Martins (SWB Motorsport), Enaam Ahmed (TRS Arden), Jack Butel (JHR), Petru Florescu (Carlin) and Louise Richardson (Richardson Racing).

With Double R’s perennially unlucky Tarun Reddy the only non-finisher after a seventh-lap retirement, the finishing order was completed by Falcon returnee Darius Karbaley; Josh Smith, whose Fortec car spun to last on the opening lap after contact from Ahmed; and Richardson Racing man Greg Holloway.

Amended provisional results Round 25 Silverstone 26 September 2015
21 laps / 34.45 miles
1 Lando NORRIS / GBR / Carlin 20m 00.491s / 103.30mph
2 Colton HERTA / USA / Carlin +0.403s
3 Toby SOWERY / GBR / MBM +3.929s
4 Matheus LEIST / BRA / Double R +6.144s
5 Ricky COLLARD / GBR / TRS Arden +6.415s
6 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR +14.878s
7 Daniel BAYBUTT / GBR / JTR +15.440s
8 Sandy MITCHELL / GBR / TRS Arden +15.595s
9 James PULL / GBR / Fortec +16.292s
10 Rafael MARTINS / BRA / SWB +19.002s etc
Fastest lap Herta 56.607s / 104.32mph Est Rec

Rookie class 1 Baybutt; 2 Mitchell; 3 Martins; 4 Enaam AHMED / GBR / TRS Arden; 5 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin; 6 Darius KARBALEY / GBR / Falcon; 7 Josh SMITH / GBR / Fortec

Grid for Round 26 Mitchell – Baybutt – Fielding – Daniel Ticktum – Collard – Leist – Sowery – Herta – Norris – Pull etc

Full times

 

Leist laps it up in Silverstone qualifying

  • First MSA Formula pole for Matheus Leist and Double R
  • Lando Norris shares the honours to take pole for tomorrow’s finale

SILVERSTONE 26 SEPTEMBER, 2015 – Double R’s Brazilian star Matheus Leist earned his maiden MSA Formula pole position this morning at Silverstone, the 17-year-old beating championship leader Lando Norris to top spot by three-hundredths of a second.

Leist, sixth fastest in yesterday’s test, threw down the gauntlet early on in the 20-minute qualifying session; he was the first man to beat the one-minute mark around the tight 1.6-mile Silverstone National circuit and steadily worked on his pace to lower the mark to 56.665s with seven minutes of the session to run. Norris improved his speed to find a tenth and take P2, but could not match Leist’s time.

Matheus will start from the pole in this afternoon’s 25th round of the Ford EcoBoost-powered championship, and is pinning his hopes on staying in front all the way to the chequered flag in a bid to secure his second victory of the season. “It’s really good,” said Leist, who celebrated his 17th birthday earlier this month. “I was in sixth position yesterday in testing and we made some changes to the car… It was a proper lap – I did everything perfectly and it all worked out. I like this circuit very much, it reminds me of Brazilian tracks, short and fast. Now I have to work hard to try to get my second race victory.”

Norris was three-tenths away from his test-topping Friday lap time, but had the consolation of setting the leading second-best qualifying time, a fraction ahead of Leist’s, to claim the pole for tomorrow afternoon’s live-televised third MSA Formula race. Said Lando: “Yesterday the car felt perfect, today not quite. It was hotter out there today and I think that affected things slightly. We’ll make some tweaks to the car and I think my race pace should be good.”

Norris leads Ricky Collard in the championship stakes by 17 points thanks to six race wins. TRS Arden driver Collard was fifth quickest in qualifying behind Leist, Norris, Carlin’s Colton Herta and Toby Sowery; it was Toby’s best qualifying result of the year and also the best showing by the MBM Motorsport team.

Dan Ticktum was the leading Rookie qualifier for Fortec, sixth fastest, ahead of JTR’s Dan Baybutt, Double R’s Tarun Reddy, eighth equalling his best qualifying result, and Fortec’s Josh Smith, the 16-year-old Racing Steps Foundation-backed driver scoring his maiden top-10 qualifying result. TRS Arden’s Sandy Mitchell completed the top 10.

Today’s race is due off the grid at 1510.

Provisional qualifying times Silverstone 26 September 2015
Grid order for Round 25
1 Matheus LEIST / BRA / Double R 56.665s
2 Lando NORRIS / GBR / Carlin 56.695s
3 Colton HERTA / USA / Carlin 56.795s
4 Toby SOWERY / GBR / MBM 56.928s
5 Ricky COLLARD / GBR / TRS Arden 56.967s
6 Daniel TICKTUM / GBR / Fortec 57.055s
7 Daniel BAYBUTT / GBR / JTR 57.099s
8 Tarun REDDY / IND / Double R 57.145s
9 Josh SMITH / GBR / Fortec 57.210s
10 Sandy MITCHELL / GBR / TRS Arden 57.214s etc

Round 26 grid order (based on second-fastest times) Norris – Leist – Herta – Sowery – Collard – Baybutt – Ticktum – Reddy – Mitchell – Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR etc

Full times

Ford-powered Norris sets a dominant pace in Silverstone tests

  • Championship leader Lando leaves the rest in his wake with a searing Silverstone test pace
  • Less than a second covers top 16 for what promises to be a super-close weekend of race action

SILVERSTONE 25 SEPTEMBER, 2015 – Championship leader Lando Norris laid down the gauntlet to his Ford EcoBoost-powered rivals in pre-event testing at Silverstone this afternoon, lapping the 1.6-mile Silverstone National circuit more than two-tenths faster than anyone else could achieve.

After setting fourth-best time in this morning’s MSA Formula Championship test session, 15-year-old Lando found more than three-tenths in the afternoon to top the timesheets for Carlin with a best lap of 56.373s. As in the championship points table, his closest rival in testing was TRS Arden driver Ricky Collard, who was 0.226s slower. To put Lando’s runaway pace into perspective, another 0.226s covered the drivers between second and seventh places today.

Norris takes a 17-point lead over Collard into the penultimate meeting of the MSA Formula season. “We know that we have really good pace in our car so we know that we can be competitive this weekend,” said Norris. “The aim is to be on the front row after qualifying and have three very consistent races this weekend bringing home some good points for our championship campaign.”

Less than half a second covered the top nine in testing today, with Norris’s Carlin team-mate Colton Herta third quickest and Fortec’s Dan Ticktum fourth. Ticktum was quickest of all in the morning session by four-hundredths but could not find the pace for an improvement in his time in the afternoon.

Toby Sowery was an excellent fifth quickest for the MBM team, ahead of Double R’s Matheus Leist, JHR Developments driver Sennan Fielding and Arden man Sandy Mitchell. JTR’s Dan Baybutt outpaced Fortec’s James Pull for ninth spot. Less than a second covered the top 16 today.

Tomorrow’s Silverstone proceedings kick off at 1030 with qualifying, with Round 25 of the championship due off at 1500 ahead of two further races on Sunday, the second of which will be screened live on ITV4 from 1510.

Leading testing times Silverstone 25 September 2015 (am/pm)
1 Lando NORRIS / GBR / Carlin 56.717 / 56.373
2 Ricky COLLARD / GBR / TRS Arden 56.669 / 56.599
3 Colton HERTA / USA / Carlin 56.655 / 56.607
4 Daniel TICKTUM / GBR / Fortec 56.612 / 56.632
5 Toby SOWERY / GBR / MBM 56.942 / 56.746
6 Matheus LEIST / BRA / Double R 56.810 / 56.759
7 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR 56.904 / 56.819
8 Sandy MITCHELL / GBR / TRS Arden 57.080 / 56.846
9 Daniel BAYBUTT / GBR / JTR 57.094 / 56.872
10 James PULL / GBR / Fortec 56.888 / 56.916 etc

Full times