Scarva-born racing driver, William Buller, was denied title glory in the final meeting of the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 Series, after a challenging weekend at the Nurburgring saw him finish third in the overall standings for 2013.
Buller, who was the championship leader up until the penultimate weekend of the season, arrived at the German circuit just three points adrift of Jordan King and the Northern Irishman was determined to bring the fight to King over the weekend.
Buller qualified on the front row for races one and three, as rival King began his weekend in the best possible way to take pole position for both races.
As the cars lined up on the grid for Saturday’s first race, disaster struck for Buller, who races for the Daventry-based Fortec Motorsports squad. Buller’s Mercedes-powered Dallara F312 machine backfired, burning the air filter, which then caught fire, forcing the 21-year-old to return to the pitlane as he literally saw his title hopes go up in smoke.
Refusing to give up without a fight, the Fortec racer re-took to the track three laps down as he set about damage limitation; Buller knew that if he could at least record the fastest lap of the race, he would score a point and limit the gap to King up ahead.
Nothing was to go Buller’s way, though and despite valiant efforts, it was King who would take the fastest lap of the race, en route to victory and a 28-point lead over Buller with two races remaining as Buller drove home in a distant 13th place.
Buller’s lowly finishing position saw him line up in 13th on the grid for the second race of the weekend, with leader King starting from eighth. A fantastic charge from the relentless Buller saw him make his way up through the order with some urgency.
As Buller caught King, the championship leader didn’t put up much of a fight, keen to keep his nose clean and stay out of trouble, while the Northern Irishman was forced to go on the offensive.
In a sterling effort, Buller moved up to fourth, with a podium finish well within his sights as he reeled in third-placed Tatiana Calderon. It was all over in a second, though, as the 21-year-old overcooked it, crashing off at the final corner on lap 13, bringing his race and his championship campaign to a premature end.
To add insult to injury, Buller’s non-finish allowed Antonio Giovinazzi to leapfrog Buller in the standings, heading into the final race with a four-point lead over the Northern Irish racer.
Despite losing out on the title, Buller went into the final race determined to do himself justice. From second on the grid, he drove impeccably and kept race leader King honest throughout the 30-minute race, crossing the line just over a second shy of the 2013 Champion.
Buller finished ahead of Giovinazzi on the road, but missed out on that all-important fastest lap, which would have given him the extra point he needed to become Vice-Champion and a disappointed Buller commented: “Jordan was really strong; we both had good starts and we were doing the same kind of lap times and that was it really. There was nothing really in it between us, but he’s the champion and we move on.”
The Cooper Tires British Formula 3 Series remains one of the foremost series in the motorsport ladder to Formula 1, with greats such as Jim Clark, Ayrton Senna, Mika Hakkinen and, more recently, the likes of Daniel Ricciardo, Jaime Alguersuari and Jean-Eric Vergne all having tasted championship glory.