Padmore dominates first FIA Masters Historic Formula One race at Most

Nick Padmore led from lights to flag to dominate the first FIA Masters Historic Formula One race of the Most Historic Grand Prix this weekend. The Williams FW07C driver quickly opened up a seven-second gap to Historic Formula One new boy Matteo Ferrer-Aza (Ligier JS11/15) and from there on controlled the pace.

It was very enjoyable”, said Padmore, who set fastest lap of the race on lap 2. “When it started to spit with rain I thought it was best to go like hell in the beginning – after that I backed off.

Ferrer-Aza took five laps before matching Padmore’s lap times but then the Williams was well up the road. The Italian was very pleased with his debut performance.

It was hard not to enjoy it”, said Ferrer-Aza who has previous single-seater experience in Formula 4 and Formula Renault. “It was hard finding a rhythm in the race, as I haven’t raced competitively for a few years now. I achieved the best I could. It was not too bad, considering who you’re up against.

In Padmore and Ferrer-Aza’s wake, Steve Hartley (Arrows A4) took a fighting third, half a minute down on the winner. Hartley put Katsu Kubota (Lotus 91) under immense pressure for ten laps before having a go at the Japanese driver. Once he was passed, Hartley opened up a gap of eight seconds.

“I was so close to catching him pretty quickly”, said Hartley, “and then went for it. When I looked in my mirror he was further back, so he must have missed a gear or something. Did it happen because I put him under pressure? Of course! Plenty of pressure!”

The pre-78 fight was just as much a pressure cooker, Max Smith-Hilliard (Fittipaldi F5A) holding off Greg Thornton (Lotus 77) for seven laps. The pair were having the closest of fights at the head of a group that also comprised Jamie Constable’s Tyrrell 011 and Andy Wolfe’s Shadow DN5 which had started from the back. But when Smith-Hilliard exited the hairpin for the eighth time he spun his Fittipaldi around, allowing Thornton into the class lead. The Lotus driver didn’t hesitate and was happy to take the class win. Smith-Hilliard recovered to finish third in class.

I could follow him all the way”, said Thornton, “but could never really find a way past. Until he had that moment at the hairpin.

“He was annoying!” said a smiling Smith-Hilliard, accepting defeat graciously. “That was a great fight. We were both terribly slow out of the hairpin, and I thought I could pull a small gap if I just got on the throttle a bit earlier. But on that lap I was too early…”

Andy Wolfe took second in class, having passed Jason Wright’s Shadow DN8 on lap 3, but could find a way past Constable, who was debuting in the ground-effect – and 2015 championship-winning – Tyrrell 011 he recently acquired from Wolfe. Meanwhile, Wolfe had been handed Max Smith-Hilliard’s spare Shadow DN5 for a surprise return to Historic Formula One.

“It was difficult”, said Wolfe when asked what it was like to follow his old car around lap after lap. “This car gets pretty loose when you’re following a ground-effect car. I just couldn’t make a lunge at him.”

Behind Smith-Hilliard and Wright, Vincent Rivet’s March 811 rounded out the top-ten.