The second year of F3 Cup as a championship had some high
standards to live up to after a thrilling 2012, but once again
three drivers fought it out for the title at the final round at
Snetterton. Alex Craven came out victorious, beating GP3 star Alice
Powell and 2012 runner-up Tristan Cliffe.
It was Powell, racing for the highly-experienced Mark Bailey
Racing squad, who hit the ground running at the opening round at
Oulton Park. A debut pole position was followed up with a double
win to announce her arrival on the F3 scene, while the eventual
champion Craven started as he was set to continue: by picking up a
brace of podiums.
Enigma Motorsport had signed up Henry Chart from BARC Formula
Renault, and it wasn't long until the young charger was too on the
pace. He became the first driver to beat Powell, at Silverstone's
round two, but Powell claimed her third win in four in race two to
build an imposing lead in the standings.
When F3 Cup made its first stop at Brands Hatch for round three,
Craven converted his comfortable pole into his first win of the
season. He then hassled and harried championship leader Powell to
the finish, just two days after she had suffered a blown engine in
testing. It was also at round three where Cliffe started to feature
at the front, picking up his first podium of the year in race
Zolder and F3 Cup's second trip to Belgium confirmed Cliffe's
credentials as championship contender as the Norfolk man took pole
and the opening win of the weekend. An airborne moment in race two
after striking a kerb dropped him down the order and compressed two
vertebrae, but the drama didn't end there. Alex Craven looked set
to double his win tally for the year until he ran wide, allowing
Powell to inherit her fifth win of the year. Craven still held on
for his fifth second place of the season.
That was the final time Powell stood atop the podium, and
momentum swung noticeably towards Craven and Cliffe. The latter
dominated the return to Brands Hatch on the Grand Prix circuit and
then took two more wins at Silverstone from his seventh pole in a
row. Disaster struck Lanan Racing and Craven at Silverstone as fuel
filler issues denied him yet another podium and fortune
simultaneously favoured and left him when Snetterton beckoned.
The first trip to Norfolk of 2013 produced the biggest talking
point of the season when Cliffe and Powell clashed as they fought
for the lead. Both careered into the Riches barrier and Craven was
handed the lead. But, his fuel filler demons returned and he was
forced to slow, allowing David Scott to slip by at that same corner
to take a maiden win. Sunday was little quieter, and with Cliffe
unable to take his 9th pole position in a row due to damage, Powell
and Craven lined up the front row. Craven chased Powell around the
opening lap and forced her into a mistake on a slippery track, as
she spun in a cloud of dust Craven could do nothing but collect
her, ending both of their races. On the restart, Scott doubled his
win haul in one weekend.
Craven's best and most impressive weekend arrived at the perfect
moment, at the Donington Park-hosted penultimate round. He was
untouchable, despite a rear wishbone dislodging in a qualifying
session in which he appeared to be on for pole. Instead, Cliffe
took his run of poles into double figures, if the race two
Snetterton pole stands. Craven made the most of yet another
front-row start to lead into turn one and then simply drove away.
His second win of the weekend was more hard-fought with Cliffe, and
season-long championship leader Powell was handed a 10-second
penalty that deprived her of a fourth place finish. The result
transpired to move Craven to the top of the table for the first
Once again the final round of the season attracted some Macau
hopefuls, one being popular double winner from 2012 season finale
Antonio Felix da Costa. His friend and Red Bull team-mate Carlos
Sainz jnr joined him, as did Lotus F1 Junior Team driver Esteban
Ocon. Sainz came out on top of the F1 juniors when the lights went
out, just pipping Felix da Costa to the win before an overheated
clutch left Felix da Costa stranded on the line of race two.
In the race of the regulars, Craven followed Cliffe to the flag,
eliminating the Omicron Motorsport driver from the title race and
leaving Powell the uphill task of needing to win and hope Craven
misses out on a podium. A brilliant drive from Mark Harrison in the
opening race had kept her back in fifth in class to all but hand
Craven the title. In the final race of the season, Chart took his
second win of the year ahead of Craven, who wrapped up a
Powell's campaign partnering Frank Thomas, Nick Robinson and
Stuart Wiltshire at Mark Bailey Racing helped them to a dominant
Teams' Championship, a fitting send-off to the retiring team boss
Mark Bailey. The Trophy 01 Class title went to Dave Karaskas.
2013 not only met the high standards set in 2012 but it raised
the bar yet further. The 2014 calendar will be released soon on
F3Cup.co.uk, and it looks set to be another brilliant year of the
UK's best value Formula Three racing.
Click here to visit the F3 Cup website.