The GB3 Championship reaches half-distance at Snetterton this weekend (25/26 June), with intriguing fights up and down the order in both the Drivers’ and Teams’ Championships.
The Checkered Flag takes a short view back to the past, and looks forward to another chapter in the developing title battle in Norfolk.
Last time at Snetterton
Though the fifth round of the 2021 season, the last visit to Snetterton was the first competitive action in the newly-rebranded GB3 Championship.
The FIA’s directive meaning only its own FIA Formula 3 Championship could use the Formula 3 name, meant domestic F3-level series’ such as the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship had to forge a new identity for themselves.
The GB3 name stuck quite quickly, though, and part-time entrant Oliver Bearman won the first race of the ‘new’ era on the Saturday.
The Fortec Motorsports driver only competed in three of the eight GB3 rounds last year, but took that win and a further three podiums in just 12 races alongside an unprecedented joint Italian F4 and ADAC F4 title-winning campaign.
He was picked up by the Ferrari Driver Academy and Prema Racing to compete in FIA F3 this year, and had a maiden win taken away for track limits infringements in his first race in Bahrain.
Then-Fortec team-mate Roberto Faria and Arden Motorsport‘s Roman Bilinski joined him on the podium, the latter wasting no time in finding his feet in GB3 having stepped up from the F4 British Championship at Donington Park two rounds prior and taking his first win at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.
Bilinski was on the podium again on Sunday morning, taking third behind Sebastian Alvarez (Hitech GP) and eventual champion Zak O’Sullivan (Carlin).
Bearman had led from the first corner after jumping polesitter Alvarez, but retired with an engine issue halfway through the race.
Arden’s mid-season arrival got his second win in the reverse-grid Race 3, and incredibly secured a podium in all three races, while O’Sullivan and Faria took their second respective podiums of the weekend.
The Snetterton circuit was originally much more straightforward, both literally and figuratively, the infield section only being added for the 2011 season.
The new additions increased the lap length by about 33 per cent and added five distinctly-challenging corners.
Riches and Montreal remained intact after the facelift, with the off-camber Palmer inviting moves around the outside at every opportunity to end the first sector.
Agostini is one of the simpler corners added 11 years ago, a hairpin leading into a short shoot before Hamilton, a tricky left-hander which tightens on the exit with no run-off.
Oggies is a tighter right where Palmer goes left, with kinder camber leading into Williams, where a good exit is crucial leading onto the Bentley Straight.
The third sector is likely the most challenging for drivers, as they trail-brake through the left of Brundle and risk locking up into Nelson or going across the grass.
A sausage kerb on the inside of the tight right-hander will preclude too much corner-cutting, with drivers also running the risk of damaging the front wing or floor if they try to take too many liberties to straighten out the run into Bomb Hole.
Bomb Hole and Coram are two of the quickest corners on the circuit, the latter demanding bravery and precision in equal measure as, like Brundle’s mirror-image, drivers have to trail-brake through the right into the left of Murrays to end the lap on the Senna Straight, named for the 1983 British Formula Three champion.
What to look out for this weekend
Fortec will hope for more Snetterton success this weekend, as Joel Granfors narrowly leads the Drivers’ standings by a single point from Hitech’s Luke Browning.
Max Esterson‘s stellar Donington last time out brought two podiums and his first GB3 win, lifting the Douglas Motorsport driver above Carlin’s Roberto Faria, twice a podium-finisher in Norfolk last year.
Callum Voisin profited from a first-lap collision between Granfors and Matthew Rees to win Race 1 at Donington, and solid results in the remaining races have taken him above Tom Lebbon, who marks his and Elite Motorsport‘s home race this weekend.
Completing Elite’s line-up, John Bennett and James Hedley make the Norfolk outfit the only three-car team to have its full complement in the top ten of the Drivers’ standings after three rounds.
Hedley is level on 97 points with Arden’s Alex Connor and McKenzy Cresswell, the former having missed Snetterton last year as part of what turned out to be a three-round campaign.
The Dubai-based British driver’s 2022 has steadily improved after mechanical issues in qualifying hampered his entire opening weekend at Oulton Park.
Bryce Aron took his first win in Race 3 at Donington, having switched from Carlin to Hitech over the winter, and now sits 12th in the standings.
Carlin may have been disappointed by their start to the season before Donington, with two podiums at Oulton for Roberto Faria their standout results.
They entered this season as reigning Teams’ Champions, but Team Principal Trevor Carlin admitted at Oulton he saw 2022 as “a new journey” with GB3 adopting the new Tatuus MSV-022.
The Farnham team went without a podium at Silverstone, an occurrence about as rare as hens’ teeth in GB3, but bounced back in style with a 1-2 in Race 1 at Donington as Callum Voisin and Faria picked up the pieces after Granfors’ and Rees’ incident.
They’re only three points ahead of Hitech after three rounds, while second-year Elite lead Fortec by two points after a 11-point swing at Donington.
Douglas are all on their own on 227 points, while Chris Dittmann Racing lead Arden by 11 points.
The battle of the one-car teams has JHR Developments and Rees on 119 points and Hillspeed on 64 with Nick Gilkes after his first podium at Silverstone.
Thursday 23 June – Testing
Friday 24 June – Testing
Saturday 25 June
10:40am – Qualifying
1:20pm – Race 1
Sunday 26 June
10am – Race 2
1:45pm – Race 3
How to follow
The Checkered Flag will be bringing you reports, news and interviews from every session on Saturday and Sunday.
Live timing is provided by TSL Timing throughout the weekend, with official live-streams of all three races on the MSV TV YouTube channel and the GB3 Championship website.