The Carlin British F3 team head to the final round of the season at Donington this week, with three of its drivers leading the chase to the 2008 drivers' championship.
In a Crash.net
exclusive, Trevor Carlin talks about the fight for the 2008 title from a team perspective...
"It's a rather unusual situation having three drivers all chasing for the championship title. On three occasions in the past we've finished 1-2 in the championship, but it's very rare to have three drivers in contention at the final round.
"As many predicted at the start of the season, 2008 has been a great year for British F3. However, unlike many of the predictions, it's been largely dominated by first year drivers. Sergio Perez has been the exception to that this season, he has been extremely strong and you have to admire the speed T-Sport and Sergio have had this year. I think Sergio will be our biggest challenge at Donington.
"With just two races to go, Oliver is leading the championship by 12 points from Jaime, with Brendon 18 points behind him. Sergio is nine points behind Brendon and a total of 39 points behind Oliver. With a maximum of 42 points to play for, I'm hoping that a Carlin driver will win the title – but as we've seen at races throughout the 2008 season – anything can happen.
"Not since 2004 has it been mathematically possible for more than one driver to win the title at the last race, and I can't remember the last time more than two drivers realistically had chance of winning the title at the final round. Its ironic then that in a season when the standings are so close that it's between drivers that are so completely different. In the Carlin team Oliver, Jaime and Brendon are separated by just 30 points and have I think 12 race wins between them, but their seasons couldn't have been any more different.
"When Jaime, Brendon and Oliver qualified 1-2-3 for the second race at Thruxton, their different driving styles were particularly evident. Their best laps were covered by just 0.037 seconds, but the data showed that they'd driven completely differently to get to that point.
"The fact that we have three drivers in the top ten is, I think, a sign of how consistently the team has performed throughout the season. Nevertheless, having three drivers so close as we enter the final round does bring with it complications. We are a big team, but we pride ourselves on treating each driver equally, and that will be especially important at Donington. Our drivers and engineers often work together – I think that's a sign that of a good team - and its one of the reasons Carlin is so strong in F3. But with one race to go and three of the team's drivers fighting for the championship, its natural that the drivers and engineers will work more independently than normal.
"I can honestly say that I have no preference as to which driver wins the championship. They are all deserving of the title in different ways. Oliver is a very mature and intelligent racing driver. He has worked so hard this season, especially in the first half of the year when he was combining his racing with studying at Cambridge. In the second half of the season we've seen some stunning performances from him and a string of podiums.
"All of the drivers are very quick, that's the first thing to say. I think Oliver's great strength is his education; his degree in engineering really has helped him. Oliver has quite a text book style of driving and he's very methodical. He works in a very analytical fashion, and it's easy for him to apply what's going on in the car to the data. Oliver has a good relationship with his engineer, Jimmy Goodwin, and Oliver is able to give Jimmy very accurate feedback which helps them solve any set-up problems they might have.