James Calado created motorsport history this afternoon, claiming the first-ever race win on the new Silverstone Arena Grand Prix circuit.
Calado's victory came in round four of the 2010 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series, ensuring his place in the record books thanks to his determination to keep Oli Webb behind him all the way from pole position to chequered flag.
Carlin driver Calado was fulsome in his praise of the new 3.67-mile track, which was ceremonially opened by the Duke of York on Thursday. “It's my new favourite circuit, and it's a great honour to be the first Arena GP winner.”
It was Calado's maiden British F3 win, the fourth in succession for Carlin and Volkswagen, and promotes the 21-year-old from Pershore to sixth overall in the championship.
Calado made a great start from his first British F3 pole position, keeping Knutsford-based Fortec driver Webb behind him on the all-important opening lap. Calado then established the new circuit outright lap record on the second lap, and lowered it again on lap five, but could not shake his determined pursuer. A small mid-race error allowed Webb to narrow Calado's advantage to four-tenths, but James kept his head to win.
“It's a fantastic result for me,” he said. “We struggled a bit in testing yesterday but I put in two perfect laps in qualifying, which was really important for me; we got the car right and I got two poles out of it. I got a great start in the race, was able to keep the lead and to start edging away from Oli.
“I had a problem with a little bit of understeer and I made a mistake one lap when the front left locked up going into the hairpin, and that allowed Oli to catch me up and we had a big battle, which was entertaining and a bit nerve-wracking, but I managed to keep the position. Then I had to keep my cool and concentrate on staying ahead to the flag.”
Webb was just over a second adrift at the line: “It was a very close race, a bit of déjà vu from last year when I raced against James in Formula Renault. Great fun. I had a few goes but unfortunately I couldn't find a way past. The new circuit is good, and definitely promotes overtaking. It was good for us to race on it first and good for the spectators.”
Oulton Park double victor Jean-Eric Vergne was unable to find his way past Raikkonen Robertson racer Daisuke Nakajima, who made an excellent start from sixth on the grid to slot into third on the opening lap, and had to settle for fourth. The Frenchman's championship lead over Webb is cut to 12 points.