British F4 front-runner Ayrton Simmons enjoyed a competitive trio of outings in the BRDC British F3 Championship in the second half of the 2018 season, and is eyeing a full-time return to the series in 2019.
Simmons, who joined Chris Dittmann Racing for his British F3 efforts, stunned the paddock with fourth place on the grid on his debut at Spa Francorchamps, despite not testing the car before his debut. Another competitive showing at Donington saw him qualify one place better in third, and he admits he found the transition from F4 to British F3 an enjoyable one.
“I really enjoyed the switch to F3,” he commented. “Even though I had no testing and have only driven the car during three race weekends, it does feel like the best car I have ever driven so far.
“In addition to this, when you gain prompt newcomer's advice from the championship organisers, this also makes it a lot easier.”
The British F4 runner-up admitted that the chance to compete at circuits like Spa Francorchamps, and to be competitive, was a ‘dream.’
“As a racer, when you can just turn up, like at Spa Francorchamps, having never driven the car or the circuit, and qualify fourth, it was like a dream for me! Obviously testing is important, so if I had previously tested the car, who knows where we could have been?”
With BRDC British F3 aimed at the gap between F4 and international F3 competition, Simmons believes the car and series are ideal for drivers moving on from F4-levels.
“The move was as easy as it could be. All you need to change from F4 is the gear change revs, get to grips with the extra speed and downforce, and off you go. Obviously, as with any other car, you need to work hard on tyre warm-up and chassis balance, but the car is very logical to work with. I am lucky to have raced this year with JHR Developments [in British F4], and Chris Dittmann Racing in British F3, and it’s been a privilege to drive for such competent and prestigious teams.”
As for his highlight this year, Simmons has two to choose from: “It would have to be driving at Spa, it’s absolutely amazing and a real driver's circuit. Having said that, Donington was special for me. I had never driven the GP circuit before and we had a wet free practice, so qualifying was the first time I had driven the F3 car there in the dry. To qualify third was a testament to the team.”
Such was Simmons’ pace, that he had the third highest qualifying average of drivers who had competed in multiple meetings, behind only Clement Novlak and champion Linus Lundqvist. With three strong outings under his belt, Simmons is now aiming a full-time campaign in British F3 next year. “I’m planning to return,” he comments. “I have a good team around me now trying their best to obtain sponsorship, so hopefully we will be there. My aim would be as always to win and improve my driving skills, whilst competing in a sporting manner.”
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18 April 2019 - Hoggard takes over at the top in Oulton Park session three