American ace Neil Verhagen is looking forward to enjoying his motorsport again, as he prepares to make his BRDC British F3 debut at Oulton Park on Easter weekend.
After two years in Formula Renault, the 18-year-old joins the series with reigning champions Double R Racing, and he’s delighted to be with a team he already believes suits him perfectly.
“In my first season in Renault I enjoyed the experience with a good team which was finding its way back into the series, I learned a lot and could focus on my development. Last year I was put into a situation where the car had significant issues throughout the season, which was extremely frustrating.
“So you can imagine how thrilled I am to be with Double R this season, with their history in British F3, I believe it’s the perfect team for me. I have already learned so much since I started testing with them and I am very impressed with quality, dedication and experience of everyone there.
“Over the last two months we have gotten to know each other pretty well, and I very much feel part of the team. I believe in the team and the car, and this will allow me to focus on my development and driving instead of worrying about other aspects.”
Verhagen also admits he’s a big fan of the British F3 car, and believes it offers supreme pace compared to other series.
“There are a lot of reasons why I wanted to race in British F3 this year. There are some aspects of my driving which I really want to focus on this season and British F3 checks a lot of those boxes to allow me to do that. The circuits are known to be excellent for driver development and they suit the British F3 car very well.
“Most of the other series I considered were undergoing significant changes and I didn’t think that would allow me to focus on my development as much as I feel I need to. Finally, the cost of the series fits my budget where some of the other series the budget is about double.
“From the first day I drove the car, I had a smile on my face. It’s just a really fun car to drive and I feel like I’m adapting to it well. It’s predictable at the limit which loads me with a lot of confidence. I very much look forward to racing it as it behaves well behind other cars which should lead to plenty of overtaking opportunities. Performance wise, I think it’s perhaps a bit faster than the Formula Renault.”
The North Carolina resident has also enjoyed a positive pre-season testing campaign.
“I think overall it’s been going pretty well, we have had some things that have gone well and some that we are working on. Most of my time in the car has been during March and it’s been great to get to know the team, my teammates, the car and the tracks we will be racing on.”
The variety of tracks, and their challenging nature, is something Verhagen is keenly anticipating.
“I only have a few days on most of the circuits on the calendar, but so far I like what I have seen. The circuits definitely have a more raw feeling to them compared to the sanitized circuits that make up most of the Formula Renault calendar.
“One corner I’m definitely looking forward to is Paddock Hill Bend at Brands Hatch. It’s unlike any other corner I have experience with, so I can’t wait to go there and learn it.”
As for expectations, he’s keeping them in check, but there is a quiet confidence lingering.
“I have learned not to set any expectations for any race weekend, I’m going into it being as prepared as I can be and focused on getting the absolute most out of myself and the car. My main goal for the season is to develop myself and I’m confident that if I do that, that will translate in getting some great results with the team.”
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