Carlin, along with all the other British F3 teams, tested at the Silverstone track last week, where Jaafar showed his form, running in the top ten all day, with a high of third quickest in the afternoon, however the unseasonably warm temperatures would be unrepresentative of conditions for the race weekend and Jazeman and his engineer needed to work on the car set up for the races.
The final event of this year’s British F3 championship began with two rain-affected practice sessions on Friday, with Jaafar on the pace with fourth quickest time in the morning, before working on setup options in the afternoon. He posted 11th fastest lap in this session, although he pitted after two laps on new tyres to preserve these for the races.
Saturday morning qualifying was held in windy, cold conditions and with numerous yellow flags it was a race against time for Jaafar to put in two strong flying laps which reflected his pace. Two seventh quickest laps placed him in this position for the start of the first and third races, with the second race featuring a semi-reversed grid taken from the results of the first race.
“I felt I had better pace than my quickest laps, “said Jaafar after qualifying. “I’d been running higher up and thought I could have been further up the grid, but traffic spoilt my chances when I was on my hot lap on new tyres.”
The first of the three races later that afternoon started after a sprinkling of light rain threatened to dampen the track, but it stayed dry and Jaafar, starting from seventh position, had a strong start off the line, taking fifth place by the end of the opening lap. A superb overtaking manoeuvre on Lucas Foresti on the outside of Brooklands on the sixth lap put Jaafar into fourth place and he then hunted down Carlin team mate, Felipe Nasr, ahead in third. He closed on Nasr as the laps counted down, lying within 0.5 seconds of the new British F3 champion, before the chequered flag came out.
“It was a good race for me,” said the PETRONAS-supported driver after the race. “The car felt good and once I had got past Lucas (Foresti), I could start putting the hammer down to catch Felipe (Nasr). I knew he wouldn’t be easy to overtake once I got back to him, but I ran out of laps before I had a chance to go for third.”
The second race took place on a damp track, with most of the field, including Jaafar, starting on slick tyres. From his sixth place grid slot Jaafar was soon embroiled in a battle down to the first corner. With wheels banging in the fight for position, Jaafar emerged in 11th position, but after a few laps he was struggling to maintain pace with a slow puncture slowing the Carlin F3 car. Jaafar opted to stay on track and battle on, but unable to put the power down, he struggled on to the chequered flag, finally crossing the line in 18th place.
Jaafar said of the second race, “I didn’t have the best of starts, which left me falling into the clutches of cars behind and fighting for track position. In all of this I was hit and I think that was when I suffered a puncture. If I had come in I would have been loosing too much time, as it is the Sprint race, so I decided to stay out and get the mileage instead. The one good thing was that my main rivals were also out of the points, so I kept fifth position in the overall points standings.”
The weather had brightened for the third race, with Jaafar lining up seventh for the start. The melee down to the first corner and through the first lap produced plenty of jostling. Approaching Club chicane, Jaafar got squeezed by four drivers side by side and lost three places. Jaafar emerged from the melee in tenth place and then moved up to ninth place on the next lap. He then pushed hard to catch Pietro Fantin ahead, and with the evenly matched cars all vying for position, they formed a train from seventh through tenth positions. Jaafar was close on the heels of Fantin as the race concluded, attacking hard all the way to the chequered flag.
Jaafar said of the final race, “I had a really good start but my reaction could have been quicker. The car ahead was slow to get off the line and then it was just manic racing through the first lap, four wide through corners, and close battles, but I was just squeezed out and dropped a couple of places, which I was never able to regain. I pushed as hard as I could, as was everyone else, so it was really tough to make up any places. Another top ten finish to round off my season was a good result and now I’ll look forward to some exciting racing in the streets of Macau.”
Jaafar returns to racing next month with the final round of the FIA International F3 Trophy, the 58th Grand Prix of Macau, which will be held from 17th – 20th November.