Douglas Motorsport unfortunately missed out on the Drivers’ title in a challenging and incident-packed season finale to the 2020 BRDC British F3 Championship at Silverstone GP circuit last weekend (7/8 November), but grabbed third place overall with Ulysse De Pauw.
De Pauw entered the final three races of the season still in title contention for the Corby-based team, with a 42-point deficit to make up at Silverstone. His hopes were unfortunately dashed though when the Belgian was taken out of the opening race while in a strong position to pick up more points.
Both De Pauw and team-mate Manaf Hijjawi started the weekend strongly with top-10 showings in testing held across Thursday and Friday in colder early winter temperatures, with cars lapping much quicker than last year’s lap records.
With 108 points to play with, an in-form De Pauw went into the 20-minute qualifying session on Saturday hoping to state his intentions to fellow title rivals. The two-time race winner qualified fifth on the grid in a high-paced contest, while Hijjawi’s 16th place on the grid was not representative of his true pace as three of his best times fell foul to strict track limits rulings.
A strong start in race one later that afternoon allowed both to progress early on in the 10-lap sprint. De Pauw settled into fourth place and was fending off Reece Ushijima when his race and title chances were brought to an abrupt end as contact from Ushijima forced him to retire with broken rear suspension.
Hijjawi found himself in the thick of a huge scrap that started just inside the top 10. The Jordanian eventually took the flag in 15th, meaning he could start the second race the following morning much more strongly from fourth on the grid.
The Jordanian was one of many drivers to start on wet tyres for the second race, held in foggy and greasy conditions early in the morning. It looked an inspired choice initially as Hijjawi confidently surged up to second and grabbed the race lead from Josh Mason at Copse in the opening laps, but the track conditions turned around very quickly.
Hijjawi held on initially very well in the top five, until the slick-shod runners made their way by. Hijjawi salvaged 14th place behind his team-mate De Pauw, who himself fought hard on wet tyres to make up ground from 18th to 13th in yet another strong reverse grid charge by the Belgian.
The final race unfortunately did not pan out how the pair wanted later on Sunday. Hijjawi was forced to pit after being victim to an opening lap skirmish further down the pack, while De Pauw maintained a top-six placing after starting fourth prior to the early squabbling. A battle with Louis Foster sadly ended in contact between the two at Village. Spinning to the rear, De Pauw salvaged 15th place, with Hijjawi two places behind.
Despite a challenging end to the season, Douglas Motorsport netted third place in the final BRDC British F3 Championship standings thanks to De Pauw, with the team with a strong total of 12 podiums across the season.
“It’s a real shame that the season ended in the way it did, and a lot of it was not down to us or our drivers which makes it more frustrating if anything.
“Ulysse entered rightly with a shot at the title but was twice taken out of races which immediately ended our chances, but otherwise he would have been able to push the title contenders a bit more as shown by race two.
“We were delighted to see Manaf fight his way briefly to the front of the second race, albeit the race ultimately came to the slick tyre runners. He showed his race craft has improved vastly over the season with those overtaking moves, and he’s got better and better over a short period of time.
“Overall, although we missed out on the title, we can be proud of the work we have done all season in this very unprecedented year. We grabbed 12 podiums which is a great haul, and we took the fight to our rivals throughout, so a big pat on the back to everybody involved and those supporting us during the season.”
Images from Jakob Ebrey Photography.