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
“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  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