Making a fine debut in the ultra-competitive world of the FIA F3 European Championship, Harrison Newey scored a points finish to begin his 2016 campaign on a positive footing this weekend.
The 17 year-old, who only made his circuit racing debut 18 months ago, gave two assured performances in his Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara-Mercedes over the first weekend of the new season.
Harrison backed up his debut points finish in race one on Saturday morning with an excellent race three performance on Sunday, but his drive frustratingly went unrewarded after a late race incident.
Final Position: 9th position
Harrison converted his 12th place on the starting to grid to an immediate 10th with a strong start. This quickly became ninth position on lap four when he put an assured overtaking move on Niko Kari’s Motopark Dallara-Volkswagen.
From there the No.20 Van Amersfoort Racing (VAR) Dallara-Mercedes looked comfortable, and he was soon latched on to the back of Alessio Lorandi’s Carlin entered car. Relieving the Italian of eighth position in to the quick Signes corner on lap nine, Newey was a man very much on the move in the 25 lap race.
Looking comfortable in eighth place, the young rookie then made a small mistake on lap 12 which resulted in dropping him back to ninth position.
Harrison then impressively soaked up some late race pressure from VAR teammate Callum Ilott to claim two points on his F3 debut. Indeed, Newey was the highest placed Van Amersfoort driver in race one to kick-start his 2016 campaign in a positive manner.
Final Position: Retired
Race two on Saturday afternoon saw ill-fortune befall Newey, as he was unluckily caught up in a first corner incident.
From 11th on the starting grid, another strong getaway initially saw Harrison put himself in place for a good result. However, after a multiple collision at turn one, Newey’s VAR was left with nowhere to go and the resulting contact saw his driveshaft broken, resulting in instant retirement. It was a tough break for the 17-year old British racer who was an innocent party in the melee.
Final Position: 14th
An excellent start from ninth on the grid put Harrison in to an immediate seventh position after some committed overtaking moves during the opening exchanges.
From there he built a strong platform for the race, engaging in a close battle with championship favourite Lance Stroll’s Prema Dallara-Mercedes. A brief challenge to take sixth position from the Canadian on lap 14 was thwarted, but the position soon became Harrison’s anyway after Ralf Aron slowed his Prema Dallara on the straight which allowed Stroll through, before the Estonian then made an error and Harrison capitalised to take sixth place.
The close and competitive nature of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship soon saw Harrison having to defend his hard won sixth position after those in front of him bunched up and allowed VAR stablemate Anthoine Hubert to attempt an ambitious move with just three laps to go. Contact between the two cars saw Harrison spin down to 14th position. It was a bitter pill for the young British driver to swallow after a very impressive run which had seemed destined to net him a top six overall placing and a second place rookie result.
Despite the late race frustration Harrison still claimed the second fastest race lap overall, proving to be quicker than many more experienced F3 racers.
Harrison’s season continues at the home of the Hungarian Grand Prix, the Hungaroring, over the weekend of 23-24 April.
“Race one was enjoyable and as I was on old tyres I was pleased with the overall performance. I put two good moves on Kari and Lorandi which was satisfying in my first F3 race. To come away with points on my debut was a good start and a solid platform to work from for the season ahead.
“Race two I’d rather forget about. I was caught up in the incident at turn one and I did everything I could to get out of the way, going right over the run-off area to avoid it, but someone tagged me and broke the driveshaft.”
“I really enjoyed the final race, as the speed I had in the car was very encouraging. I got another good start and was able to hold on to and then close on Stroll. In the final few laps Anthoine (Hubert) was closing and going in to the lefthander we were close. He tried a move and there was slight contact and I was spun out. It was a huge shame and disappointing it ended that way, but the pace we showed throughout the weekend and especially in race three demonstrated there are many positives heading in to the season.”