Hitech Racing was unable to build on a fine qualifying performance in the F3 Masters at Zolder, but Max Chilton was able to console himself with the fastest lap time during the annual non-championship race in Belgium.

The teenager had qualified in an impressive sixth place for his debut in the event to lead the British F3 contingent into the race which started in wet conditions despite rain having stopped falling.

Unfortunately for Chilton, he bogged down off the line and having lost a number of places off the line, the team elected to bring him in to change to slick tyres in an effort to chase the fastest lap as the circuit dried. Chilton duly secured the fastest lap honours as he battled his way back through the field to take the flag in 21st place.

"I didn't get away well at all," he said. "The engine stalled but I managed to get it restarted but lost a lot of places. After that we could see that I had no chance to win so we pitted for slick tyres, along with several other drivers, but the track took a while to dry.

"My times were coming down every lap though and it's good to have got the fastest lap but I think otherwise I could have easily had a top five finish."

Team-mate Roberto Mehri failed to finish the race after encountering problems in the closing laps but team principal David Hayle said he was happy with the performance of his young chargers.

"I'm very happy with the outcome considering the starts they both had," he said. "We made the decision to call them both in to switch tyres and they did a superb job after that. Max was steadily improving and got quicker lap after lap. He's certainly raised his game and that was reflected with a superb performance in qualifying and he didn't falter in what were difficult, varying conditions throughout the event.

"Roberto was very impressive all weekend too. On his first ever F3 race in an International class car and with just three hours experience prior to the race, he drove very maturely and was easily one of the quickest drivers out there at the end."


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