This post came about thanks to a nostalgic trip through YouTube several weeks back. Motorsport2000 on VHS posted almost every race of the 2001 British F3 season. This brought back childhood memories of watching the highlights on Channel 4.
The 2001 season would be one of the series last hurrah. The grid saw six drivers reach F1, with full grids of up to 40 cars. The series carried the reputation as the best in the world, with international drivers flocking to Britain hoping to reach F1.
In the coming years the series would decline after the creation of the F3 Euroseries in 2003. Almost 20 years later, what did the 2001 class go on to achieve?
1st) Takuma Sato – 345 Points – Carlin Motorsport Dallara F301-Mugen Honda
Takuma Sato was the pre-season favourite, as the highest placed returning driver. The 24-year old started the season slowly, before strolling to the title with 12 wins from 26 races.
Sato was signed by Jordan for his F1 debut in 2002, enjoying a very solid six year career. He showed flashes of promise at BAR, but was left in the cold when the Super Aguri team folded part-way through the 2008 season.
He emigrated to America,making Indycar his home since 2010. He notably won the 2017 Indy 500. He’s enjoyed a good Indycar career, and is set for his eleventh year in the series once racing resumes.
2nd) Anthony Davidson – 272 Points – Carlin Motorsport Dallara F301-Mugen Honda
Anthony Davidson was the rising star of British motorsport in 2001, as the reigning Formula Ford Festival winner plus the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC award winner.
He took time to adjust to Formula Three, but came on strong late in the season. Six wins was enough for him to secure a distant second in the points.
Davidson already had a test driver role with the BAR F1 team, making his debut as a two-race stand-in for the Minardi team in 2002. He would impress as a test driver, eventually getting his chance with Super Aguri in 2007-08.
Since then Davidson has enjoyed a career in sportscars. He’s raced with both Peugeot and Toyota, winning the World Endurance Championship in 2014. He’s remained in F1 as a simulator driver for AMG Mercedes, along with a commentary role with Sky Sports F1.
3rd) Derek Hayes – 234 Points – Manor Motorsport Dallara F301-Mugen Honda
Derek Hayes was an underfunded but talented racer. Hayes had barely a years racing experience before he finished a close second to Jenson Button in the 1998 British Formula Ford series.
The Northern Irishman impressed with reigning champions Manor Motorsport, claiming one win and contending for the title in his debut year. His lack of funding kept him in F3 for 2002, winning a race in the French series.
He moved across to the British Ascar series in 2003, alongside a short stint in the Nascar Busch series. After a two-race cameo in the F3 Euroseries in 2004, Hayes hung up his helmet. He now runs the family caravan park and leisure homes business back in Northern Ireland.
4th) James Courtney – 227 Points – Jaguar Racing Dallara F301-Mugen Honda
James Courtney went into 2001 as the reigning British Formula Ford champion. He was affiliated with the Jaguar F1 team, and won on his series debut at Silverstone.
This would be his only win, but he remained a constant threat to the dominant Carlin team, generally outpacing fellow Jaguar junior driver Andre Lotterer.
Courtney joined Carlin as favourite for the 2002 title, but a massive Jaguar testing crash at Monza forced him to miss two races, eventually finishing second. That was as close as he got to F1, winning the Japanese F3 title in 2003.
A stint in Japan preceded a move back to Australia in 2006, competing in V8 Supercars. It’s been his home since, winning the title in 2010. He’s also come close to a Bathurst 1000 win, with four podium placings in 14 years.
5th) Gianmaria Bruni – 156 Points – Fortec Motorsport Dallara F301-Renault
Bruni was one of the top returning drivers, having finished fifth in his debut season. Despite using an unfancied Renault engine, Bruni was a consistent podium finisher, winning one race at Donington Park.
He would progress through European F3000 to reach F1 with Minardi in 2004. He struggled in a under-developed car, and was evenly matched by team-mate Zsolt Baumgartner.
Two years in GP2 preceded a switch to sportscars. Since 2007, Bruni has excelled as a factory Ferrari and Porsche GT driver. His highlights include three GTE class wins at the Le Mans 24 Hours and two World Endurance Championship GT class titles.
6th) Andy Priaulx – 146 Points – Alan Docking Racing Dallara F301-Mugen Honda
Andy Priaulx found success moving to Alan Docking Racing for 2001, with three wins and seven total podiums. Inconsistency curtailed a title challenge, but his speed was often on display.
A cameo in British Touring Cars led to a career change for 2002, quickly becoming a BMW factory driver for 2003. He would cement his place in history with a European Touring Car title in 2004, followed by three years of World Touring car titles from 2005-07. He’s pivoted into sportscars with BMW and now Ford, over a long career as a factory driver.
7th) Andre Lotterer – 143 Points – Jaguar Racing Dallara F301-Mugen Honda
Lotterer moved to the British series after an impressive rookie season in German F3. The Jaguar Racing team struggled in 2001, especially Lotterer. He did win a round at Snetterton, and was a consistent points scorer. Despite a year of F3 experience, Lotterer was outclassed by his rookie team-mate.
His affiliation with Jaguar ended after 2002, instead making his name in Japan. He became a two-time Super GT and one-time Super Formula champion, before moving into sportscars with Audi. He won Le Mans three times in four years, and now competes in Formula E with Porsche.
8th) Matt Davies – 136 Points – Team Avanti Dallara F301-Opel
2001 was a make or break year for Matt Davies. The young Brit was in his third year of British F3, needing to impress. Two wins in the opening four races saw him lead the series after two rounds, but only two more podiums for the year saw him slip to eighth.
This would be the high-point for Davies, whose career faltered through lack of finance. He would make forays in club racing, winning the 2008 Porsche 924 and 2014 Mazda MX-5 titles.
9th) Mark Taylor – 91 Points – Manor Motorsport Dallara F301-Mugen Honda
Mark Taylor’s season was one of two halves. The rookie took time adjusting to F3, but ended the year strongly. Two podiums at Brands Hatch and Silverstone showed improvement, becoming a regular top six finisher in the final rounds.
Taylor stayed with Manor for 2002, winning his first race and improving to seventh overall. He transitioned to Indy Lights in America for 2003, dominating the series and earning a Indycar drive for 2004. He found the jump a difficult one, with a truncated year blighted by accidents. Taylor gave up on his motorsport career, only recently returning in the British Truck Racing series.
10th) Bruce Jouanny – 65 Points – Promatecme UK Dallara F301-Mugen Honda
Bruce Jouanny joined Promatecme for his graduation to British F3, after previous success in Formula Palmer Audi. The Frenchman struggled early on, but improved throughout the season and became a regular points scorer by seasons end.
Jouanny returned in 2002, winning two races and improving to fourth. His post-British F3 career is varied. He raced in World Series by Nissan, switched to sportscars with three Le Mans 24 Hours starts. These days he is a motorsport manager and co-hosts the French version of Top Gear.
11th) Jamie Spence – 63 Points – Duma Racing Dallara F301-Mugen Honda
Spence was the elder statesman of the 2001 British F3 class. The 28-year old had struggled with finance, and had been stuck at the British F3 level since 1993. Duma Racing were a new team and Spence started well with pole for the opening round at Silverstone.
Spence and Duma flashed potential, but they struggled to gain the results. One second place was his only podium, and he missed the final two races at Silverstone. Spence subsequently retired from motorsport, outside of a brief cameo in the British LMP3 Cup in 2017.
12th) Paul Edwards – 57 Points – Alan Docking Racing Dallara F301-Mugen Honda
Paul Edwards was thoroughly outpaced by team-mate Andy Priaulx. He scored two top four results in the opening four races, but a lack of budget forced him to miss the final eight races.
He would have been in the top ten had he completed the year. He since made a living in the GT categories in Grand-Am sportscar racing, last competing in 2012.
13th) Ryan Dalziel – 55 Points – RC Prost Junior/Duma Racing Dallara F301-Opel/Mugen Honda
Ryan Dalziel started the year at the RC Prost Junior team, which lasted until round six. Dalziel moved across to Duma Racing to complete the year.
Dalziel moved to America, solidifying himself first in Formula Atlantic before switching to sportscars in IMSA. He’s a Le Mans class winner and Petit Le Mans overall winner, and is now in his eighteenth year competing in America.
14th) Nicolas Kiesa – 46 Points – RC Prost Junior Team Dallara F301-Opel
Nicolas Kiesa was a pre-season contender, but he endured a nightmare. His RC Prost team struggled, and he left the team half-way through the year.He completed the season competing in German F3.
Kiesa moved up to F3000, famously winning the 2003 Monaco race at the finish line. His two-year F3000 stint led to a five-race F1 cameo with Minardi to finish out 2003. He took a third-driver role with Jordan in 2005, before a year in DTM and sportscars for 2006. He now competes in Danish national racing.
15th) Jeffrey Jones – 38 Points – Manor Motorsport Dallara F301-Mugen Honda
Jeffrey Jones joined Manor for 2001, but struggled throughout the year. Seven points finishes in 26 races reflect his struggles. He moved back to America for 2002, finishing second in Formula Ford 2000. His future racing career is unclear, he possibly switched across to the world of drift racing.
Best of the Rest
Alex Gurney, son of legendary American driver and designer Dan Gurney, moved to British F3 in 2001 partnering Gianmaria Bruni at Fortec. He found the transition difficult, and was thoroughly beaten by Bruni. He returned to the Formula Atlantic series for 2002 before switching to sportscars. He was a two-time Grand-Am champion in 2007 and 2009, but hasn’t competed since 2014.
Milos Pavlovic was in his second year of British F3, at Team Avanti. He only competed in ten races, but managed to score good points. He won the Italian F3 title in 2002, before stints in World Series by Nissan, GP2 and FIA F2 before switching to GT racing. He primarily races in Lamborghini Super Trofeo and GT3 racing.
Martin O’Connell raced the second Team Avanti car in the opening round, scoring an eighth and sixth. O’Connell primarily raced in FIA Sportscars, before a long-stint away from motorsport. From 2011 onwards he’s made his name in historic racing.
2001 was a tough year for Rob Austin, his first in British F3. His Alain Menu Racing team were also new, to further compound their learning curve. Three further years in British F3 didn’t yield much, before national racing success and a re-birth in British Touring Cars from 2011-2018.
Ben Collins was a former British F3 race-winner, who made a cameo at Alain Menu Racing at Rockingham and Castle Combe. Collins enjoyed a varied career, racing everything from Le Mans prototypes to Ascars. Collins is more widely known for being The Stig for the popular BBC car show Top Gear between 2003 and 2010.
The final half-dozen only made cameo appearances, to little effect. American Phil Geibler reached F3000, before making the Indy 500 in 2007. Sakon Yamamoto would reach Formula One in 2006, completing partial seasons with Super Aguri, Spyker and HRT.
The class of 2001 was filled with supremely talented young drivers. Six of them would reach F1, with other becoming champions in touring cars, GT racing and V8 Supercars. The grid was also filled with drivers who couldn’t progress, for a multiple reasons. Some didn’t have the finances, some made bad choices and some were simply overlooked. Almost 20 years on, the 2001 class lived up to the immense promise they had at the time.