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Brazil's Felipe Nasr claimed victory during the opening race of the 2011 British Formula 3 season at Monza on Saturday, as the Brazilian driver stayed clear of trouble at the front of the field to take the early championship lead. Behind the Carlin Motorsport driver, Jazemaan Jafaar finished second, while Carlos Huertas took the final place on the podium at the end of a dramatic race.
Will Buller’s race was severely hampered before it had even started, as the British driver failed to make his pole position grid slot in time. He was one of seven drivers who were penalised as a result, and the 18-year-old was required to start from the end of the pit lane, losing the advantage he had earned in qualifying earlier today.
Drama unfolded as soon as the race got underway, as Pipo Derani slammed into the wall after making contact with Jack Harvey, leaving both men out of the race and bringing out the Safety Car. However, the restart failed to pass without incident as Kotaro Sakurai flew over the back of fellow rookie Bart Hylkema, causing a second Safety Car period.
Jazeman Jaafar was able to get the jump on new pole sitter Kevin Magnussen during the early stages, but he slipped back when the green flag racing conditions returned. Meanwhile, Harvey described his race ending accident via his personal Twitter feed: "Got side swept off the line which damaged the front right wheel which means I'm watching the race via TV screens."
Jaafar's race began to take a turn for the worse under both restarts, as he lost out to Magnussen and Lucas Foresti at the first, and then dropped to fourth after Felipe Nasr dived past in his Mercedes-powered car. A third Safety Car period was initiated just a few laps later, in a race that was quickly turning into a battle for survival at the historic motorsport venue.
Magnussen’s lead was handed over to Nasr when the Dane pitted to replace his front wing after picking up some damage, with Jafaar and Carlos Huertas inheriting second and third respectively. As a result of the high attrition rate, Buller found himself in fourth place as the race entered its closing stages, with damage limitation well and truly achieved.
Nasr crossed the line as the eventual victor when the race reached the 30 minute mark, as the Brazilian avoided the numerous incidents around him to fend off his rivals. Buller was able to hold on to fourth place behind Jaafar and Huertas who ended an intense battle for position just 0.050 seconds apart, with Carlin's Rupert Svendsen-Cook in close company.
Riki Christodoulou maintained his starting position by crossing the line in sixth, holding a three second margin back to Welsh driver Hywel Lloyd. Menasheh Idafar finished in eighth for T-Sport, while Lucas Foresti and Bruno Mendez rounded out the top ten. At the back of the field, Bart Hylkema finished the race four laps down, but he completed enough laps to be awarded full points in the Rookie Class.
Sunday’s Race 2 begins at 9am local time (BST+1)
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