“Autumn Trophy set to be a thrilling affair” ”
Save for an MSVR meeting at Silverstone, last year’s BRDC Formula 4 Autumn Trophy was my first significant report for Motorsport News. How things have changed in just a year. I had plenty of reservations on the drive up to Snetterton. Most focused on my own shortcomings, but there were some niggling doubts in the back of my mind about the showpiece I was there to cover: how reliable were the new F3-016 (or F4- 016s as they were then) cars going to be? What would the quality of racing be like? How desolate was the circuit going to look with only seven cars on track?
Thankfully those reservations were blown away in the rain and howling wind, and the successes of last year’s event were passed on to the main championship – rebadged in time for the season opener as Britain’s de facto Formula 3 category – with an intriguing title fight only settled in last month’s season finale.
If last year’s Autumn Trophy set the groundwork for an entertaining campaign, then the strength of the entry list for this year’s event should well and truly whet the appetite of even the most satisfied single-seater fan.
What’s most interesting, though, is that the standout name on the list won’t be competing with one of the ‘big three’ – Carlin, Double R or Fortec.
Douglas Motorsport is the only team competing in the Autumn Trophy with only two available cars in its stable, but it has once again come up trumps when it comes to its driver line-up, with Australian Joey Mawson – who beat Mick Schumacher to the German F4 title, likely the most competitive championship of its kind – and Jamie Caroline on its books for the weekend.
Mawson’s record in ADAC F4 this year speaks for itself (with a win-to-races ratio better than onein-three), so his only aim should be to capture the title – regardless of the fact he won’t have driven the MSV version of the Tatuus car before Thursday. For Caroline, too, participation offers him the opportunity to prove himself after a mixed 2016 campaign in British F4.
Dan Ticktum’s return to UK competition is another big talking point ahead of the weekend, and regardless of his past misdemeanours the 17-year-old has to be fancied as a contender in Double R’s so far only confirmed entry. With the likes of Enaam Ahmed (who’s switched to Carlin from Douglas) and Ben Hingeley (Fortec) also in action after a year in the championship, picking a champion is no easy task.
Last week’s big story, that HHC had sold its three cars to P1 Sport and would leave the championship, was undoubtedly a blow to F3 – the team having been part of the championship since its inauguration as BRDC F4 in 2013.
But that’s yesterday’s (last week’s) news. This week, the mood’s different. Things aren’t perfect – that one of the category’s leadings teams feels there’s greater potential in sportcar racing illustrates that – but with a competitive cast of some of talented junior racers in place, this weekend’s Autumn Trophy promises to be a thrilling affair.