BRDC F3: Ahmed’s dom­i­nant cam­paign

Se­ries re­turnee Enaam Ahmed had one aim when he started the 2017 sea­son: to force his op­po­si­tion into sub­mis­sion

Autosport (UK) - - CONTENTS - Ste­fan Mackley, BRDC Bri­tish F3 Cor­re­spon­dent @Smack­ley27

“Ihad to kill them.” Those words sum up Enaam Ahmed’s mis­sion at the start of the 2017 BRDC Bri­tish For­mula 3 sea­son, and the 17-yearold’s take-no-pris­on­ers ap­proach paid off, as he se­cured the ti­tle with a round to spare, and won 13 of the 24 races. But the all-con­quer­ing sea­son al­most didn’t hap­pen af­ter a lack of funds threat­ened to de­rail Ahmed’s chances of com­pet­ing at all. A one-off test at the end of last year to prove his worth to Car­lin boss Trevor Car­lin was enough for him to get a seat for the Au­tumn Tro­phy, which he won, plac­ing him as firm favourite for the 2017 cam­paign.

“We sac­ri­ficed a lot, put ev­ery­thing we had into this sea­son, and I knew that for me to be able to race next year [2018] it wasn’t a mat­ter of win­ning two or three races this year and win­ning the cham­pi­onship – I had to kill them,” re­calls Ahmed. “So ev­ery time I went on the track it was more of a do-or-die sit­u­a­tion be­cause I knew I didn’t have the money to com­pete next year, so I re­ally had to prove that I was that much bet­ter than ev­ery­body else.

“If you look, the way I test, ev­ery time I go out, Roberto [Streit, driver coach] and I have this say­ing, ‘When I go out I need to taste blood’. It’s al­ways got to be on the edge. Ev­ery time I wanted to make sure I de­mor­alised them.”

Ahmed was true to his word, mak­ing sure his ri­vals didn’t get a look-in as he started the sea­son with a hat-trick of wins at Oul­ton Park be­fore adding a fourth in the open­ing race at Rock­ing­ham.

More vic­to­ries fol­lowed, with braces at Brands Hatch and Spa, as well as both vis­its to Snet­ter­ton, the sec­ond in­stance se­cur­ing the cham­pi­onship.

A sen­sa­tional drive at Spa, where he won race two from sev­enth on the part-re­versed grid, and his bat­tling per­for­mance to take vic­tory in the fi­nal race of the year at Don­ing­ton Park – even though the cham­pi­onship was al­ready won – encapsulated his sea­son.

Ahmed’s race en­gi­neer Mark Owen, who has more than 16 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing for Car­lin, says: “There was a stage in the sea­son where he was just so con­fi­dent and be­lieved in him­self that he was the quick­est ev­ery time he went out.”

Ahmed’s main ri­val was sup­posed to be Lanan Rac­ing’s Toby Sow­ery, the two-time Mclaren Au­tosport BRDC Award fi­nal­ist hav­ing fin­ished third in the se­ries 12 months ago. But a lack of test­ing com­pared to his ri­vals put the 21-year-old on the back foot and, apart from a pair of wins at Sil­ver­stone in the mid­dle of the sea­son, he never looked ca­pa­ble of beat­ing Ahmed.

“We only did three days of test­ing through­out the whole sea­son, whereas the other teams were test­ing a lot,” says Lanan Rac­ing ace Sow­ery, who missed the fi­nal round at Don­ing­ton to race in Lam­borgh­ini Su­per Tro­feo Asia.

“The guys at Car­lin al­ways do a good job, and you could ar­gue that he [Ahmed] was in a good car. I think the fact that he did all the test­ing, had a good car and had the ex­pe­ri­ence from last year [made the dif­fer­ence].”

But for the want of greater con­sis­tency, Fortec’s Ben Hin­ge­ley could have been a ti­tle chal­lenger – af­ter all, he took wins at Rock­ing­ham, Sil­ver­stone, Spa and Don­ing­ton.

Two DNFS at Brands Hatch when he was caught out by a rain shower and then be­ing taken out in the sec­ond race by Jeremy Wa­home all but ended his chances, though, and third in the stand­ings was his re­ward.

For James Pull, Ahmed’s Car­lin team-mate, it was a sea­son of frus­tra­tion as he failed to take his maiden win and fin­ished run­ner-up seven times. But he came close to that elu­sive vic­tory on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions, most no­tably in race two at Spa be­fore suc­cumb­ing to Ahmed’s su­pe­rior pace, and in race one at Brands Hatch be­fore it was red-flagged when he was chal­leng­ing for the lead.

Fel­low Car­lin driver Cameron Das was blis­ter­ingly quick at times and took the first non-ahmed win in race two at Rock­ing­ham, but silly mis­takes, such as run­ning into the back of Pull at Snet­ter­ton, proved his down­fall.

Dou­ble R – cham­pion in 2016 with Matheus Leist – en­dured a dif­fi­cult year with only one win com­ing cour­tesy of Kr­ish­naraaj Ma­hadik dur­ing race two at Brands Hatch af­ter Sow­ery’s ex­clu­sion for a gear­box in­fringe­ment.

But there was op­ti­mism at Dou­glas Mo­tor­sport as 16-year-old Jor­dan Cane, who joined at the first Snet­ter­ton meet­ing be­cause he was too young to start the sea­son, took three wins – at both Snet­ter­ton rounds and the fi­nal event at Don­ing­ton.

The 2017 BRDC Bri­tish F3 sea­son was all about one man only, though – Enaam Ahmed: “I needed to dom­i­nate the cham­pi­onship to get recog­ni­tion.”

He cer­tainly suc­ceeded in that.

“We only did three days of test­ing through the sea­son” Toby Sow­ery

Sow­ery was ex­cluded at Brands Hatch

Lack of con­sis­tency hurt Hin­ge­ley

Car­lin driver Ahmed was un­stop­pable

Pull (#15) was con­sis­tent, but lacked out­right speed

Cane was im­pres­sive in de­but sea­son

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