European F3 race winner Ben Barnicoat recovered from 'rock bottom'

New Formula 3 European Championship race winner Ben Barnicoat says his Hungaroring win last time out completes a recovery from his career reaching rock bottom four months ago

European F3 race winner Ben Barnicoat recovered from 'rock bottom'

New Formula 3 European Championship race winner Ben Barnicoat says his Hungaroring win last time out completes a recovery from his career reaching rock bottom four months ago.

The Racing Steps Foundation-backed 19-year-old drove from sixth on the grid to victory in the wet final race in Hungary on only his second race weekend in F3 to provide the new Hitech Grand Prix team with its maiden win.

Barnicoat, a race winner in the Formula Renault Eurocup last season, lost out in December on the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award for the second year running, and was then denied what had seemed a certain seat with top F3 squad Prema Powerteam.

And although he finished fourth on his F3 race debut at Paul Ricard, he was held responsible for triggering the first-corner pile-up in the second race.

"I had a pretty awful time really," Barnicoat told Autosport.

"Missing out on the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award - you really can't realise how rock-bottom you feel, but I thought I had a good year with Prema to look forward to, and then that fell through and it was another big kick in the back.

"But I got a couple of days testing in December with these guys [Hitech] and they were very keen to get me - I'm very fortunate.

"Then in the paddock at Ricard there were a lot of people saying some quite bad things, but it [the accident] was a mistake - it happens."

Barnicoat believes that the first race at Ricard, where he qualified fifth and finished fourth just behind team-mate George Russell, is representative of his dry pace.

"That was a true indication of what we have to offer," he said.

"After that I lost the opportunities to show my pace, and qualifying didn't go to plan here at the Hungaroring [where Barnicoat was one of the worst-hit by track-limits penalties].

"It's nice to show I can do it because I believe there were a few people doubting me, and I'm sure we'll be able to carry this on."

Hitech team manager David Hayle, who has run F3 cars for most of the past two decades, said: "I hope Ben is going to be a classic case of 'nice guys do win'.

"He's a consummate professional, he does everything right and he deserves this win.

"He's on a steep learning curve, but he's going in the right direction."

Hayle added that getting Hitech's first win out of the way seven months after its race debut means "the pressure's off - we know we can do it. The monkey's off the back."

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