Louis Foster enjoyed a sublime start to his BRDC British F3 career as he claimed a double pole position and his maiden podium finish in the series during the season-opener at Oulton Park, beating many other more experienced drivers.
QUALIFYING After displaying a great turn of speed through all four test sessions prior to qualifying, Louis was confident of a strong showing on Saturday morning. The Copart-backed driver came out the gates strong, with his first lap of the session good enough for P2, 0.348s off Frederick on provisional pole.
His next two runs saw him improve further still with the first slotting him just 0.158s behind P1 before a superb lap a few minutes later vaulted the Lord Wandsworth College student to the top of the timesheets by 0.159s - a clear three tenth improvement.
Louis then returned to the pits and fitted fresh tyres but returned to the track too late to begin another lap, which wouldn’t have been necessary anyway owing to the fact none of his rivals could better his time of a 1:31.483, granting him pole position for race one along with his second fastest lap securing him the front row again for race three on Sunday morning.
“Qualifying was amazing, we knew we could do reasonably well but even then we were surprised with both pole positions, especially as it was my first ever qualifying in BRDC British F3. It’s testament to the hard work the team have put in to get the car as fast as it is, it’s a dream to drive and gives us so much confidence as we move through the weekend.”
Despite his pole position starting spot, an unfortunate chain of events during the start procedure - which saw the lights flash briefly before releasing completely - caused Louis to make a false start. He made an initial getaway before stopping again and waiting for the lights to clear which hampered his overall start and left him at the mercy of Frederick behind.
From there, and with a 10-second penalty in tow, Louis held firm in second place on the road trying his best to bridge as much of a gap as possible to Jewiss behind and limit the damage from the penalty but with the Oulton Park circuit notoriously difficult to follow and overtake at, the odds were firmly stacked against the Double R Racing driver. His efforts were negated further owing to a safety car deployment removing any chance for Louis to pull away from the chasing pack.
Louis crossed the line in second place on the road but was ultimately dropped to thirteenth once the penalty had been applied.
“It was a shame what happened in the first race, it caught a couple of us out and ultimately we paid the price for it. Despite losing the lead, I showed I had the pace to remain in the fight and I tried to push on to pull a gap because of the penalty but that’s hard to do around here.”
The second race of the weekend was one to forget for Louis as a mechanical issue forced the young Brit into the pits at the end of the first lap. His Double R Racing team inspected the car but the issue was terminal and ruled Louis out of taking any further part in the race.
“Race two was something of a non-starter, whatever the problem was caused us to pit at the end of lap one and we weren’t able to get back out there. The only saving grace was that we were at the back end of the field anyway so didn’t cost us too much in terms of results - it could definitely have been a lot worse.”
With a reset overnight, Louis came back on Sunday morning confident of stronger results in races three and four. It was all to play for as Louis lined up from pole for the third race of the weekend. As the lights went out, Louis’ nearest rivals behind all made electric starts and relegated the pole-sitter to fourth.
With Frederick, Azman and De Pauw now occupying positions one through three, Louis slotted in behind and settled into a groove, fending off Jewiss behind. He crossed the finish line fourth on the road but was later promoted to third place following the disqualification of De Pauw for a yellow flag infringement - handing the BRDC Rising Star his maiden British F3 podium.
“Start wise it was certainly much better than the first race, however I’m not sure if I just didn’t get away very well or if everyone else just had very good starts but we’ll keep working on them. The race itself was much the same, the Carlin’s had insane pace that we just couldn’t keep up with so it was a case of keeping touch with De Pauw ahead which worked out well in the end after he was disqualified. To get that first podium is a great feeling and gives us the incentive to go one or two better next time."
The final race of the weekend saw Louis start from tenth on the grid with a strong points finish on the cards. The Poggesi-sponsored driver made a good start and climbed a place to ninth, cruising past Peixoto heading through Old Hall and down to Cascades.
From there, it was another simple race for Louis as he kept out of trouble and capitalised on the mistakes of others, rising to eighth place after Horsten’s retirement to round off a successful first weekend in the series.
“The last race was good fun. We made a place up at the start and were really in the mix throughout the race. Again with the way this track is, it’s hard to get by anyone so it was pretty much status quo from there and picking up the pieces of any mistakes made in front of us."
"To come away from the weekend with two pole positions and a podium finish is more than we were expecting so we can be really happy with our performance so a big thanks to the team and to all of our partners this year as well, without their support none of this would be possible so to have them onboard with us means the world to me. We know the areas we need to work on and will look to get on top of those by the time we head to Donington Park.”
Louis’ next bout of action will come from Donington Park - his second most successful track with two wins and a third place in British F4 last year - taking place on the weekend of 15/16 August.
Image courtesy of Jakob Ebrey Photography.