Tomas Scheckter has had an exciting season, rising from the Opel Euroseries to test an F1 car in the space of twelve months, but could not hide his disappointment at missing out on the British F3 crown at the weekend.

The South African knew that he faced a tall order as the series travelled to Spa-Francorchamps, with leader Antonio Pizzonia needing just a top eight finish even if Scheckter won. Qualifying ninth hardly helped his plight, as Pizzonia lined up on row two, even if Scheckter later realised where he had been going wrong.

''It felt as if every other driver had been skipping the chicane,'' he explained, ''I couldn't believe it - they had both wheels inside the apex of the corner. It had to be worth so much time - and left me back in ninth. With that and red flags all the time, qualifying was a nightmare.''

With the drivers subsequently told not to cut the chicane in the race, Scheckter knew that he would be back on a level playing field, and was determined to do all he could to take the title race to the final round at Silverstone in two weeks' time. Places were gained right from the start, but his charge stalled as the Stewart car became embroiled in a midfield dice.

''I made a good start, and went past both the Benetton cars on the first lap,'' Scheckter recounted, ''I then got caught up in a dice with Matt Davies, before starting to catch the lead group. I wasn't too far behind at the end, but it was still disappointing. If I had started further up the grid, it would have been a much better result.''

Even if Scheckter had been able to make further inroads, the title would still have gone Pizzonia's way, as the Brazilian finished second on the road to guest driver Tiago Monteiro. The South African's fifth place has secured second in the standings, however.



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