Louis Foster enjoyed another successful weekend during the BRDC British F3 Championship’s visit to Brands Hatch with the 17-year-old claiming his third podium finish of the season.
QUALIFYING Louis’ weekend began with qualifying on Saturday morning. His fastest lap of the session saw him qualify in eighth place for races one and three.
Continuously improving as the session progressed, Louis had set the seventh fastest time during the early stages and had climbed to fifth with less than five minutes on the clock but a flurry of late gains meant the Lord Wandsworth College pupil dropped a number of places.
“We could’ve got more out of qualifying as I definitely felt there was some extra speed left in the car but the stoppages meant we could never find a proper rhythm and everyone very quickly improved at the end. However, to be inside the top-ten at every round so far shows we have good pace and we’re consistent as well.”
Lining up eighth for the first race of the weekend, Louis made a supreme getaway from the lights to climb to fourth place by the time the pack had reached Paddock Hill Bend.
From there, the Copart-sponsored driver ran in clear air for much of the race and kept it calm and collected to take fourth place and another 21 points in the championship standings.
“It was a great recovery from qualifying in the first race. After the troubles I had with the starts at the beginning of the season, I’ve put a lot of work into improving them and it’s certainly paid off with the move on the first lap. I couldn’t really have asked for a better race - I made some good ground up and used the clean air as a chance to push the lap times to get as high up the grid as possible for race four.”
Starting the reverse-grid race from the lower end of the pack was always going to present a challenge for Louis, particularly around a track that can be difficult to overtake on.
A tricky opening lap meant Louis dropped to 15th. From there, he began challenging Piers Prior for 14th and passed the Lanan Racing car on the following lap. He then set about cutting the one-second gap to Kaylen Frederick and was promoted to 13th after a mistake from Manaf Hijjawi.
Running within two tenths of Frederick, Louis couldn’t find a way past the American and was now facing pressure from Prior behind, who re-passed Louis on lap eight.
Louis kept within striking distance and set one of the fastest laps of the race in his pursuit of Prior but couldn’t navigate his way through and crossed the line in 14th place.
“The first lap was unfortunate and I dropped a few places so race two was mostly just damage limitation and picking up any places that we could. It’s not easy to pass around Brands Hatch so I was stuck behind Frederick with no way through and then lost out to Prior but we still scored points and still learnt from the experience."
The third race of the weekend began in chaotic fashion. With Louis starting from eighth on the grid, he managed to avoid a poor-starting Hijjawi and get past De Pauw before the Belgian spun off at Clearways to climb to fifth.
Following further incidents under the safety car, the race was red flagged and restarted. This meant Louis would line up in his original eighth-place grid slot but, with two cars ahead now missing, would begin the race in sixth position.
Once more running in clear air for most of the race, the gap between Louis and Jewiss ahead fluctuated between 1.2s and 0.5s but he maintained his position and crossed the line to take sixth place.
“The start of this race was a bit crazy! I got another good start and managed to jump Hijjawi and De Pauw as he ran wide at Paddock Hill. I was then set to start chasing down Jewiss but the safety car came out and then we were under a red flag. With a massive gap on the grid to Jewiss in fifth, I was focused on the cars behind for the restart as there was nothing to gain in front. I kept ahead of them and held a gap just behind Jewiss for the rest of the race to open up some space and set a few quick laps.”
Louis' average race lap time of a 1:21.595 saw him claim fourth on the grid for the final race of the weekend - meaning the chances of a podium finish looked high.
Those chances became even higher at the start of the race when Louis sailed past a broken-down Simmons to slot into third place. Looking for his third podium of the season, the Poggesi-supported driver played it safe and circulated in clear air from De Pauw and Maini ahead and skillfully held off Jewis behind, maintaining a 0.5s second gap to the Douglas Motorsport car.
“Coming into the last race, I felt confident about making some ground up so I was more than happy to have got to third in the opening few corners. I was focused on keeping Jewiss behind so I felt like I worked for that podium and as a team it’s a great result for all the effort they put in to help me turn it around after qualifying. It’s a really good momentum boost as we look ahead to Donington where I ran very well at a few weeks ago.”
The weekend's results mean Louis currently occupies fourth place in the championship standings as the BRDC British F3 Championship now takes a short break before heading back to Donington Park on the weekend of 19/20 September - a circuit which saw Louis claim his maiden win in the series earlier in August.
Image courtesy of Jakob Ebrey Photography.