In what was a thrilling finale to the BRDC British Formula Three Championship, Formula 4 United States Championship inaugural champion Cameron Das secured fifth in the overall standings as the flag fell on the 2017 season for the final time. Rising American racing driver Das enjoyed a weekend which saw him on the podium once again while also showing immense speed with a further pole position in the final race of the season. However his strong weekend was brought to a grinding halt after disaster struck during race three which saw him returning to the pits with front wing damage as the innocent victim of lap one contact – eventually leaving him to cross the line 13th.
From the word go this weekend Das was on pace and feeling at one with his Carlin-run Tatuus-Cosworth car around the Donington Park circuit. Making the most of four constructive test sessions on Thursday in mixed conditions, Das headed in to qualifying on Saturday morning ready for battle. Another confident and strong performance from the 17 year old ensured that he would line up in fourth for the opening race of the weekend.
As the lights went out, Das had one thing in his sights; improving to get on the podium. His tenacity on show, Das was able clinch the position from Chase Owen ahead and secure third place as his own – taking his seventh podium of the season in the process.
Starting from sixth as a result in the reverse grid race Das focused on a dual pronged attack; securing strong points for his championship campaign and making the most of the 20 minute race to set a fast lap to ensure his race start for the season finale. In an incredible show of determination the timing screens began to light up purple. Sector after sector it was clear that the 2016 F4 US Champion was the one to watch. Setting multiple quick laps in quick succession Das hammered in a stunning lap of 1'25.165 – easily the fastest of the weekend to take pole position as his own. The time would prove to set the new Lap Record at Donington Park.
With clear air ahead of him the aim for the final race of the season was to get away cleanly and lead in to the first corner. Das came under slight pressure from Enaam Ahmed who was lined up alongside him however the American looked to have the better of the newly crowned British F3 Champion despite a nudge from him. However this tap had actually damaged Das’ front wing more than originally realised which meant Das began to slowly lose the impressive pace he’d had all weekend long as an innocent victim of the first corner clash.
At an aerodynamic disadvantage, Das fell back in to the clutches of Ahmed who took the lead before his front wing completely broke off requiring a heart-breaking return to the pits to deal with the damage. Despite the disappointment of losing the potential for third in the Championship, Das kept his head well and returned to the race to take the flag for the final time this season in 13th – with the rookie racer securing a great fifth place in the overall 2017 standings as a result.
Das said of the weekend finale, “In retrospect, it was a good weekend. We were always at the front and moving forward through the races so showing great pace. Having pole position for race three was a good measure of the capability I developed over the season. Race three was really gutting though considering I led the majority of it with a wing that was broken on the first corner of the first lap. I didn't really realize it had broken until seven or eight laps into the race when it completely fell off.
“I think up until that point, I showed I was at the top of my game with my speed, race-craft and understanding of the car and I’m 100% ready for whatever comes my way next year.
“I want to thank the team who has made such an impact on not only my driving ability, but on my character as a person as well. Specifically, I want to thank my engineer, Paul Anderson, who gave me a perfect car practically every weekend, and who spent countless hours with me on my simulator at home preparing notes for each test and race weekend.
“I want to thank my Mechanics, Guy and Joe, for ensuring I was competitive for every single race of the season and even cleaning up after a couple of my own mistakes! I want to thank Trevor and Stephanie Carlin for believing in a young American brand new to the world of racing and a huge thanks to Sam Waple who did a fantastic job operating the whole team.
“I also want to thank my teammates Enaam Ahmed and James Pull who pushed me to my limits all throughout the year. I also thank my manger, Horia Totu, for having my best interests at heart, and to my trainer, Jon Rayner, for massively improving my fitness levels this year. Most of all, I want to thank my entire family who all make tremendous sacrifices so that I can pursue my aspiration to become a Formula One driver.”
In what was a strong rookie season, Das can be proud of his accomplishments which have included in impressive and hard fought race victory at Rockingham, seven podium positions, five pole positions, four fastest race laps and a track lap record; his inherent speed boldly on show over the course of the eight round series.
Das will next be out in his Euroformula car this coming weekend at Monza.