Enaam Ahmed became the 2017 BRDC F3 champion with one race to space after winning twice and finishing 5th at Snetterton.
The 17 year-old came to Snetterton needing just a win and a second place to wrap up the title, or only a win if other results went his way, and Ahmed duly delivered.
The Londoner has always been very quick at Snetterton, and this was no more apparent than in qualifying. Half of the field were involved in a frenetic battle to start in second place, but Ahmed stormed to pole, setting a time more than three tenths clear of the rest of the field.
Race one was not so straightforward though. Although Snetterton is a difficult circuit to pass at, the slipstream proved to be very powerful, and Ahmed’s title rival Toby Sowery pushed Ahmed throughout the race, keeping the gap well under a second. The Carlin driver kept his cool though, and crossed the finish line in the lead, despite him visibly struggling.
After the race Ahmed explained why he was unable to pull away from Sowery. “I got a really good start but track conditions had changed a bit so I was struggling with my car a little bit and I felt really loose. Toby was catching me and it was really hard to be able to up my pace because I was really struggling, but I adapted my driving style a little bit to the conditions I had and the car I had and I was able to keep the gap and win the race. I was worried a little bit because he was catching me quite a lot and there was not much I could do as the car was difficult to drive. I thought he was going to be able to easily overtake me but once I adapted my style I was able to keep the gap which was a relief.”
Ahmed attempted the same tactics as he had done all year for race two. Instead of putting the onus on bursting through the field, his focus was setting the fastest lap of the race in order to start from pole in race three; something he did with aplomb. Ahmed still made up positions and finished fifth. Because his team mate and title rival James Pull faltered and got no points in race two, Ahmed was now on the brink of the title. Ahmed simply needed to finish in the points to guarantee the tital.
And just as he had done all season, he won race three, wrapping up the title. It proved to be no formality, as like race one, Ahmed’s Carlin car was not handling particularly well, and he had to defend hard from a charging Sowery. But again Ahmed adjusted his driving style to keep the Lanan Racing man at bay, and followed taking victory and the championships, with a display of donuts and deservedly, an elated celebration.
Despite being ecstatic, Ahmed was quick to thank those who had helped him to win the title. “I’d like to say a big thanks to Carlin, so to Trevor, Mark, my mechanic Matt, Sam, all the guys has been really good to me this whole season, and I’d really like to say a big thanks to Trevor for signing me for this year and for believing in me. He thought I had the potential at the end of last year so I’m really grateful that he wanted me to drive his car and also to my parents and my coach Roberto who comes all the way from Brazil. Without him, the last year and a half wouldn’t really have been possible.”
“I’ve been in this championship for two years, and it means a lot to me to win the title. It’s been a great championship, everyone at MSV and the BRDC and everyone involved has done a really good job with the series and it feels like a home to me, I’ve raced in it for two years and to win it in my second year is amazing, and especially to do with with Carlin as they’re such a prestigious team. The focus from December was just to win the title and that was the only aim. We managed to do that so I’m really happy, I’ve kept my head down all year and tried to get as many wins as I could and that’s what I managed to do. ”
As a British F3 champion, Ahmed is in illustrious company, joining Ayrton Senna, Mika Hakkinen and Daniel Ricciardo as drivers to have won British F3. Ahmed has a chance to beat Jan Magnussen’s record for all time British F3 wins in the final round at Donington Park.
Ahmed also hinted at where he wants to drive next year, confirming he is eyeing European F3. This is the same series which has nurtured almost all recent F1 prospects, including Esteban Ocon, Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Antonio Giovanazzi, Pascal Wehrlein, Carlos Sainz Jr and Lance Stroll. It will not surprise anyone that Ahmed seems to like the idea of staying with Carlin either. He said “Where it goes from here is up to Trevor and I hope he can help me out with that and hopefully I can stay with them next year and stay in an F3 car.”
It would be an understatement to call Ahmed’s championship winning season anything but dominant, and it seems that the future is very promising indeed for Ahmed. He has time on his side, as Ahmed is just seventeen years old, although his mature driving would suggest otherwise.
But in the meantime, it is time to celebrate. “We’re going to celebrate now, I hope to go out with Trevor and the Carlin Christmas party should be pretty special this year!”
Images courtesy of British F3