Three top ten finishes, with a fourth place high were the fruits of the weekend for Jazeman Jaafar in the ninth event of the Cooper Tires British F3 International Series at Donington race circuit this weekend. A fifth place in the first race, fourth in the second and tenth position in the third race scooped Jaafar more championship points and kept him in the top six of the Drivers’ Championship standings.
It was a perfect start to the weekend for Jaafar with the young Malaysian topping the time sheets in the practice sessions, held on Thursday ahead of the weekend. Jaafar’s fastest lap of the field came at the tail end of the second practice session, just three hundredths of a second quicker than second fastest driver, team mate Rupert Svendsen-Cook.
In qualifying Jaafar struggled to find a clear lap and with yellow flags interrupting the flow of the track, and the evolving track conditions, the PETRONAS-supported driver posted eighth quickest lap. His second quickest lap was also eighth quickest, putting him in this position for the start of the first and third races.
The first race was held in dry, cool conditions on Saturday afternoon, with Jaafar improving to seventh place from his eighth place grid slot on the opening lap. On the fourth lap a clash between Carlin team mates Felipe Nasr and Kevin Magnussen promoted Jaafar further up the grid to fifth place. Jaafar battled with rivals Scott Pye ahead in fourth and Valtteri Bottas behind in sixth, with the trio fighting hard through the remaining 15 laps. Jaafar was pleased to take fifth at the chequered flag saying, “The car felt good and I was able to maintain a competitive pace through the whole race, enjoying fighting with Scott and Valtteri, and posting a strong result by the end of it.”
The second race of the weekend was held on Sunday morning with gloomy, damp conditions adding to the challenge for all the drivers and with tyre choice critical, Jaafar and his Carlin team opted for wet tyres. Jaafar was off the line from fifth position and quickly chasing Harry Tincknell. A charging Menasheh Idafar managed to pass Jaafar on the second lap, as Jaafar struggled with his car, which was proving a handful in tricky conditions. Jaafar focused on maintaining a good pace and benefiting from Tincknell and Pye tangling to improve to fifth place. Jaafar coped admirably with Tincknell attacking in the final laps, holding him off until the chequered flag. “The car was very twitchy at the rear and I was having to hang on to it through some of the corners which really kept me on my toes. We were also struggling to get heat into the tyres in the opening laps. Finishing fifth gave me a few more points, which was good.”
The third race produced drama before it had even started, with light rain making it a difficult tyre decision for teams. The front six drivers opted for wet tyres, while many of those further back, including Jaafar eighth on the grid, gambled on slick rubber. As the field went through their formation lap the slick tyre-shod drivers realised the need for wet weather tyres, taking the start from the pitlane after having a tyre change.
Jaafar emerged from his pitlane start in ninth place and was through to eighth by the end of the second lap. His progress forward continued, with the 18-year-old moving up to seventh place by lap five. An off-track excursion and small spin at the hairpin in the difficult track conditions dropped Jaafar back down the order to 12th place, with the Carlin driver recovering to 11th place as the laps counted down in the 40 minutes race. Showing strong race pace, Jaafar chased down 10th place driver, Felipe Nasr, crossing the line in 11th as the chequered flag flew, and classified 10th after a grid penalty for a rival driver, salvaging a point from the tough race.
Jaafar said of the final race, “Three races with points finishes showed our consistency, as I’ve scored points in 22 of the 27 races we’ve had this season. The weather conditions for the second and third races called for some brave gambles, but I have to say that we made abig step forward with our setup and decisions.”
Jaafar returns to the track on Sunday, with a test session on Wednesday 27th September at Silverstone, ahead of the final British F3 race weekend of the season which will be held at the British Formula One circuit 10 days later.