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Chase Owen converted quick pace into a strong haul of points at Silverstone during the fourth event of the BRDC British Formula 3 championship season, finishing a season best P4 in Race 3 after having made up considerable ground during Race 2.
Since 2016, Owen has gained valuable mileage at the home track of the British Grand Prix. Compared to the other British circuits on the F3 calendar, Silverstone is long in distance and features a wide surface area that requires maximum commitment through the corners in order to pick off the fastest lap times. In Owen's case, this weekend marked a great development for the American driver who mastered a new level of confidence behind the wheel of a high-aero race car.
Friday's test day was threatened by rain clouds throughout, but the circuit was fortunately spared from nearby showers. This allowed good running for all competitors in preparation for the weekend and by the end of the test sessions, Owen was tenth fastest.
On Saturday morning, Owen opted to run a single set of new tyres in qualifying and he equaled the most laps completed in the session along with rival Aaron Di Comberti. Posting a best time of 1:58.830, Owen qualified 12th fastest for the Race 1 grid.
Race 1 unfortunately came to an untimely, and all too early, conclusion for Owen when contact on the first lap resulted in retirement. Eager to make-up places in order to acquire a better grid position for Race 2, Owen was however boxed-in at Turn 1 and an attempt to reclaim some of the lost ground midway through the lap resulted in broken front-left suspension.
Meaning a P16 start for Race 2 on Sunday morning, Owen was straight into gear from the outset and made a good getaway to climb into the battle over P13. Ending lap one in P14, the American gained two more positions on lap two and then, with a terrific move, passed Di Comberti for P11 on the fourth tour.
His next target was Jamie Chadwick and after catching the 10th place car, he duly went by on lap six to break into the top 10 where he remained to the flag on lap 10. Post-race, though, a time penalty for Guilherme Samaia promoted Owen into P9. Driving impressively throughout, Owen set the sixth fastest lap of the race, entering the small group of drivers who could lap in the 1:57s all weekend.
Starting P6 for Race 3 was Owen's best chance of a podium finish so far this season and his determination to move up the order was unrelenting. At the start, Owen held his position and benefited from a collision between Callum O'Keefe and Ben Hingeley which promoted him to P4. Thereafter, he controlled a gap ahead of Carlin's Cameron Das, but the remaining two Carlin machines were no longer within reach of Owen during the closing stages of the race.
Owen commented post-weekend:
"After contact resulting in a DNF in the first race, I knew it was going to be another challenging race weekend. Starting from the very back in Race 2, the strategy was to get past as many people in the first few laps as possible, with a huge emphasis on setting a good lap time to get me up the grid for Race 3. Having passed six cars with several great battles in the first half of the race, I found myself with an open track in front of me and the car feeling really hooked up. With one lap remaining, I managed to set the sixth quickest lap and my personal fastest lap of the weekend, putting me in a good position (P6) for Race 3."
"I had a good start, held position, and drove a good Race 3. I avoided a two-car collision and was able to stay composed under pressure from Das and Cane. I was thrilled to end up P4 after such a disastrous start to the weekend and happy to bring home my first Top 5 finish of the season. I will certainly use this momentum going into Spa next month and will be looking for some podiums next!"
Henry James added:
"It's been a pleasure to see strong performances from Chase in high pressure races on Sunday morning. A dry track on Friday enabled the team to really find the best set up for Chase ahead of the weekend and the car was certainly dialled in for Chase to compete up front."
"Spa will be a similarly difficult challenge to Silverstone where qualifying and race strategy will heavily influence the outcome of the weekend. We are preparing right as of now for this next round and hopefully Chase can continue to shine in Belgium."
Having now reached the half way stage of the BRDC British F3 season and with the positive momentum from Silverstone, the fly-away race at Spa feels very timely for Owen and the Hillspeed team. Follow the action from 6-8 July.