Lying in sixth place, the penalty dropped him back out of the points, and an 11th place finish at the chequered flag.
The Grand Prix of Pau, an historic race within European motorsport, was an opportunity for Jaafar to gain more street racing experience. Driving his Carlin F3 car, with Yokohama tyres rather than the Cooper Tires he runs on for the British F3 championship, Jaafar was new to the event and set out to score a good points finish. In the first practice session he learned the circuit configuration and worked with his engineers to develop the car set up for the track conditions, finishing ninth fastest at the end of the session. In the second practice session Jaafar built on his earlier practice experience and with the field putting on new tyres, times were close, with Jaafar posting third quickest lap time by the end of the session.
With other racing on the temporary street circuit, the grip level was ever-changing and Jaafar found his set up wasn’t optimised for the conditions in the first qualifying session, producing 11th quickest lap time. The 18-year-old driver worked with his Carlin team to improve the car for the final qualifying session and posted a strong seventh quickest time to line up in this position on the grid.
The start of the race was a close fight to the first corner, with Jaafar coming through in eighth. Making a move on Pipo Derani for seventh place in turn three, the two were side by side with Jaafar just ahead as they reached turn four. Not wanting to block Derani or cause a crash, Jazeman held position. However, with a yellow box at turn four declared a no overtaking corner, Jaafar was penalised with a drive through penalty, with the stewards deciding that Jaafar had infringed the rule.
Jaafar says of the incident, “It was a harsh penalty, as I felt I had already made the move in turn three, but with Derani still alongside and having not yielded, despite me being ahead, it looked as if I made the move in turn four. I’m gutted and frustrated as it compromised my race and I wasn’t able to get the points I needed for the championship fight.”
After serving his penalty Jaafar was back on track in 12th place, finally finishing 11th after a spirited drive to the chequered flag.
“The result doesn’t show the pace we had,” said Jaafar. “We had the potential to run in the top six and finish with a strong result, but it wasn’t to be this weekend. It is a setback for me in the points hunt, but there are four more rounds, so I’ll be looking to make up ground as the season progresses. As a learning experience it was exactly what I needed: a challenging, tight street circuit where you are kissing the barriers to get the maximum out of the car. I know we had good pace in the car, so that gives me confidence too.”
Jaafar now heads to Monaco for the upcoming Formula 1 Grand Prix, as a guest of his sponsor, PETRONAS, joining Mercedes GP PETRONAS Formula One team for this unique weekend.