British Formula 3 Silverstone preview

The British Formula 3 championship heads back to Silverstone this weekend for the Powertour 'Summerfest' meeting. It's make or break time for series leader Antonio Pizzonia, who must get his title challenge back on track after a disjointed few weeks. The low point of the Brazilian's season came at the Marlboro Masters two weeks ago, where Pizzonia never troubled the scorers before dropping out. After a disappointing performance in the last Championship race at Croft, Antonio dismayed his many admirers by his efforts (or lack of them) at Zandvoort. This was a serious stumble on Pizzonia's part, which could have major repercussions. Not long ago, most people would have said that the title was his for the taking, but now Tomas Scheckter is only 30 points behind. That's the equivalent of a win and a fourth place, not very much when you are up against a driver as dogged and determined as the South African.

British Formula 3 Silverstone preview

Scheckter could have been forgiven for forgetting about his F3 challenge in recent weeks. The South African was signed up for the McLaren Jr F3000 team for the rest of the season and scored a podium on his second appearance in the series. In addition, he had his first run in an F1 car this week with the Jaguar squad, parent operation to Stewart Racing for whom Scheckter races. However, the team seem to think that Scheckter is better able to cope with the switch between radically different machines in the F3000, F1 and F3 cars, than his main rival Pizzonia. Pizzonia's testing for the Benetton F1 team did not at first seem to harm the Brazilian's F3 driving but in recent months he appears to have suffered a lack of focus in his championship challenge.

There have been a number of changes on the driver front which could affect the front end of the grid from now on. Marcos Ambrose, a star of Formula Ford in 1998 and 1999 has been confirmed at Alan Docking Racing after his first appearance netted sixth on the grid and fifth in the race. He replaces Westley Barber, who parted with the team before Croft. The Englishman has wound up at Manor, the team that won the championship last season, and is currently leading it with Pizzonia. He replaces Juan Manuel Lopez. In the Scholarship class, Philip Hopkins has decided to take a rest from driving for a couple of races, and his place in the family-run car will be taken by Alfa-Romeo saloon car racer, Enzo Buscaglia. Enzo had his first F3 outing with Meritus at Croft and certainly did not disgrace himself. Since then he has tested the Hopkins Motorsport car a couple of times and gone well, so he will be racing at Silverstone and also at Snetterton on September 3.

Another newcomer, Peter Nilsson, who is described as British, although he has a Swedish father, hence the name, had already booked the drive at Meritus. Peter has a single-seater background, having competed in FFord, FVauxhall Junior and FRenault. He has already tested quite extensively with Meritus and now feels ready to take the plunge into competition.

New to the championship will be Chris Buncombe, the 22-year-old having competed in the Spa 24 Hour Race just days ago. Buncombe will make his F3 debut driving for Tiverton-based ME Motorsport having last raced single-seaters two years ago in Formula Renault in the UK.

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