The second round of the F3 Euro Series at Hockenheim was the venue for the first event in the inaugural FIA Formula 3 International Trophy, a championship which draws together six classic F3 events and drivers from various F3 series. Jaafar finished 10th in the first race, 9th in the second race and 11th in the third race, and with the first and third race finishes counting towards the F3 International Trophy drivers’ championship, a point for 10th place was a welcome reward for a tough weekend for the young Malaysian driver.
The Hockenheim round of the F3 Euro Series demanded that Jaafar raced his Carlin British F3 car with Kumho tyres, rather than the Cooper Tires which he uses for his British F3 season. Running on a different tyre proved the biggest challenge for Jaafar, as he explained, “The Kumho tyre gives a very different feel to the car than the tyre I’m used to running on and we didn’t really have any knowledge of its characteristics, so we had to focus on setting up the car to suit this rubber. With only two practice sessions before qualifying limiting our mileage, there was very little time to develop the setup as well. We did the best we could within this time, but heading into qualifying we knew that the regular F3 Euro Series drivers, who always race with Kumho tyres, would have the edge on us.“We had a solid qualifying and, as expected, we weren’t able to match the pace of the F3 Euro Series drivers, but we were improving our overall pace and continuing to learn about the tyres and developing the set up.”
“In the first race we improved on our start position to finish in the top ten and earn a point for our efforts, so that was a good start. We improved on that result in the second race, again finishing in the top ten, although that race result didn’t count towards our F3 International Trophy points. In the final race we finished just outside the top ten, but it was another solid result.”
18-year-old Jaafar, who currently lies second in the British F3 International Series, expects the Hockenheim event to be the toughest of the six he will contest in the F3 International Trophy, saying, “This is the only round where we will run a different tyre than we’re used to running with, so hopefully, the other events will be easier from that perspective. I am pleased we were able to improve our pace throughout the weekend; it’s just difficult when there is so little time. It has been a useful learning experience for me, as well as more opportunity to race, which is the main aim of our weekend, so we take away many positives from Hockenheim. Lying sixth overall in the Trophy is a good start in this championship as well.”
Jaafar will return to his British F3 International Series campaign in two week’s time, with the second round of the ten-event championship, taking place at Snetterton, Norfolk, from 14-15 May.