F3 Basil Shaaban seals stunning 12th place at Masters of F3
2009 TANGO MASTERS OF F3
Zandvoort circuit, Holland, June 13-14th
For immediate release
Monday, June 15th 2009
BASIL SHAABAN SEALS STUNNING 12TH PLACE IN MASTERS OF F3 AT ZANDVOORT
· Shell-backed Shaaban delighted with Masters of F3 performance
· Lebanese star aims to use result to boost F3 Euro Series challenge
· Masters of F3 race victory falls to Finland’s Valtteri Bottas
ZANDVOORT (Holland): Basil Shaaban flew the flag for the Arab world with pride by finishing an excellent 12th overall in the Tango Masters of F3 race at Zandvoort on Sunday. The prestigious annual race meeting attracts the cream of Europe’s F3 racers and is widely accepted as the place where budding F1 racing stars of the future are born.
Thirty-six of the finest Euro Series, British, German, Italian and Spanish F3 series’ drivers lined up at Holland’s premier circuit for the 2009 edition of the historic race.
“Finishing 12th is a milestone for me against such fierce and experienced competition and is a first for the Arab world,” said the delighted Shell-backed driver, who races for Italy’s Prema Powerteam in the F3 Euro Series at the wheel of a Dallara Mercedes-Benz F308/309.
“I finished in the top one-third of this field and this is a significant step forward in my career. I’m honoured to make this Arab mark on international formula racing and I must build upon this result now on the subsequent rounds of the F3 Euro Series.”
But Shaaban’s progress through this year’s Masters of F3 was not without adversity. The Lebanese qualified 17th in Saturday afternoon’s timed session, a result that could have been much better.
“Yes, I qualified 17th,” admitted Shaaban. “But I was heading towards a 13th position for the race grid looking at my sector times. I was blocked on my quickest lap by another car and he incurred a five-place penalty for it. Then I was impeded by more traffic of yellow flags every other lap up to the end of the session. It was very frustrating, but that’s racing and at least my true potential pace was clear to see.”
The punishing Masters of F3 meeting has been a favourite of budding F1 drivers for years and Lewis Hamilton and David Coulthard are listed as former winners. “It was a challenging race,” adds Shaaban. “I didn’t have great grip from the tyres, especially on the exit of the corners. While I could maintain a strong pace on various sections of the circuit infield, I had to defend my position several times into the first corner, which was a good challenge.
“After passing several cars at the start, I had a good fight with my team-mate Matteo Chinosi, but we wanted to make sure that we avoided a collision between each other. It feels great to finish the Masters in such a strong position. I went off last year on the first lap of my first Masters race on a wet track after qualifying in 34th place, so this weekend’s result is a major boost. I also proved that I had the pace to be in the top 12 on merit by setting the 12th fastest race lap.”
The title of 2009 ‘Master of F3’ was captured by pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas of Finland, his success making this ART Grand Prix’s sixth consecutive victory at the prestigious event. Bottas was joined on the second step of the podium by fellow Finn Mika Maki (Signature) and by Shaban’s Prema Powerteam colleague Stefano Coletti, who finished third.
Shaaban now heads to the season’s final two-day F3 Euro Series official test at France’s technical Magny-Cours F1 circuit on Wednesday and Thursday this week. The Shell-backed driver will then look to continue his impressive climb through the ranks of the F3 Euro Series at Germany’s Norisring street circuit on June 26th-28th.
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