Harry Tincknell stars to win Silverstone F3 thriller
Harry Tincknell scored an emotional win in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship at Silverstone from a double pole position.
It was the first time the 21-year-old from Devon has scored maximum points in the championship and was also a landmark victory for the Carlin team that runs his Volkswagen-powered Dallara – it was the squad’s first-ever success in a non-reversed-grid race on the series’ control Hankook tyres.
And still the milestones rack up, for Tincknell became the first Briton to win a round of the FIA F3 European Championship, revived in 2012 after a 29-year break, since ex-Lotus Formula 1 driver and Jaguar Le Mans winner Johnny Dumfries! And it was the first time Harry has topped qualifying in his F3 career.
The foundations were laid with a storming qualifying session, in which Tincknell claimed pole for race one by 0.323 seconds, and for race two by 0.514 seconds, setting three lap times quicker than anyone else’s best. He looked good for a triple pole in the final qualifying session, which took place on a damp track. But a gamble to stay on wet-weather tyres did not pay off and he dropped from first to seventh in the final two laps, beaten only by six drivers on slicks.
“We were really on it,” he said. “I can’t thank the team enough. Since we raced at Silverstone in British F3 last year the car is so, so much better. I’ve seen how hard they’ve been grafting in the workshop and it’s really paid off.
“I was absolutely pushing for my life but the car felt really solid. It’s just a shame about the other session but that’s the way it goes. Until the last 30 seconds I was still in second place, but I’m pleased my pace in the wet was strong.”
Tincknell led throughout the first race to take his sixth F3 victory, and his first not to come from the British F3 reversed-grid format. But it certainly wasn’t easy, as fellow Briton Alex Lynn kept him under constant pressure.
“I knew we would be competitive here,” said Harry. “It was a hard race and Alex pushed me all the way, but I felt really confident with the car. The opening couple of laps were quite damp, and being first on the road you have to gauge the conditions, which means you’re going into the unknown slightly. But there weren’t too many issues and I was able to get into the rhythm.
“With Silverstone being so abrasive, there was quite a lot of graining on the tyres, but it was OK in the end and I’m really happy for all the team!”
In the second race Tincknell dropped to third at the start, but quickly repassed Raffaele Marciello for second and then made an opportunist move to take the lead from Felix Rosenqvist on a safety-car restart when he caught the Swede napping.
Unfortunately, damage to the floor was sustained in contact from behind, and as a result the car’s handling became more and more of a struggle. With six laps remaining he lost his hard-won lead and had to be content with fourth place – and more valuable points – at the finish.
“It was getting really unstable and I nearly went off under braking a couple of times,” said Harry. “When I got out I saw that half the rear floor was missing, which the team reckon cost me 30 per cent of my downforce. I could feel the downforce stalling when I was on the brakes. And, of course, the extra sliding meant my tyres went off quickly as well.”
The last race was a struggle thanks to gear problems, but nevertheless Tincknell kept calm to take ninth place and score more points, consolidating his third place in the championship.
“I started developing a gearshifting problem with the cable,” he said. “I would try to shift down but it would go into neutral – sometimes it would take six shifts to go down four gears.”
Still, Harry, who is a member of the BRDC Rising Stars initiative, enjoyed a memorable weekend that buoys confidence heading into the next round, on the German Grand Prix circuit of Hockenheim on May 4th and 5th.
“You’d obviously rather end on a high but it’s been a great weekend,” he said. “I’m driving with confidence and in qualifying I was buzzing. I’ve proved now to everyone that I can fight with the top guys!”
Before Hockenheim, Tincknell will also enjoy a session with the stars of Chelsea Football Club on April 26th as part of the MSA’s Team UK programme. First the racing drivers will train with the footballers, then they will take each other on with racing simulators. It should be a fun day, with likely TV coverage on the BBC. Stay tuned for when it will be aired!