Cameron Das has impressed on his Spa-Francorchamps debut in the BRDC British Formula Three Championship this weekend – securing two top five finishes and another consistent weekend of racing in the highly competitive championship. The 17 year old rookie had little time to get up to speed with the intricacies of the challenging circuit however once again took them in his stride to not only qualify in the top ten but also improve throughout the weekend to finish seventh, fourth and fifth respectively in the three races.
The long and infamous Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium threw a new challenge in the mix for reigning Formula Four US Champion Das this weekend. At seven kilometres qualifying on Friday was always going to be a tricky affair when a tow around the circuit is ever important – the long lap time obviously meant fewer opportunities in which to really find the perfect lap. However Das dealt with the challenge presented to him well and although he was unable to take advantage of the slip streaming effect to enhance his lap time, took the flag in tenth to set his position for the opening race of the weekend.
Race one later that day on Friday afternoon was surprisingly dry despite Spa’s reputation for extreme and fast changing weather conditions. Das was once again a solid runner through the field – gaining two positions on the opening lap and crossing the line in a strong seventh position which ensured him not only good championship points but a great starting position for the reverse grid race on Saturday.
Lining up on the front row of the grid in second Das had a brilliant start to the reverse grid race. The Rockingham victor stayed close behind his Carlin team mate and race leader James Pull as the field streamed through the complicated corners the circuit has to offer. However his other team mate Enaam Ahmed was thrown in to the mix as he took position from Das; the young American would cross the line in an impressive fourth position – fighting hard and battling well with those around him until the end.
The third race of the weekend, set using the drivers’ fastest racing laps, saw Das start from fourth place having once again proven his envious race pace. The opening laps of the race were full of overtakes as everyone took advantage of the slip stream effect; this was also true for Das who, running well within the top five, was trying to take advantage of this himself – battling to get ahead of those around him and break the all-important tow. Following a fast-paced and exciting final race of the weekend, Das crossed the line in fifth position – ensuring two great top five finishes at arguably one of the most challenging circuits on the 2017 calendar.
Das reflected on the weekend, “I think this weekend went pretty well not having raced at Spa before. Two top five positions is a good result but I had hope for a little bit more. Through free practice, we developed the car quite a bit and in qualifying the car was really hooked up. Unfortunately a tow didn’t come at the right time which put us farther down the grid than we wanted despite having pace for the first or second row.
“I did my best to move forward in the rest of the races and I learned a lot of valuable information for racing at Spa specifically. When it comes to racing, it is so different than other tracks because of how massive the straights are so it took some really aggressive defending and attacking. The starts of each of the races were the most memorable though – everyone but the race leader has a tow, so it’s just everyone close together coming out of Eau Rouge and trying to get track position before Les Combes.
“Now that I’ve been at two “F1 style tracks” I feel like my track knowledge has expanded quite a bit, but I’m excited to go back to some tight and narrow English circuits that have greater similarities to the American tracks I’m more accustomed to.”
Das will be back racing in the championship in August when racing gets underway at Brands Hatch for round six of the season.