Mitchell Hale continued his stunning transition to single-seater racing by extending his lead in the Formula Renault BARC Championship with another win at Silverstone on Sunday, May 9.
The 16-year-old from Bristol led all the way from pole position in his Fortec Motorsport-run car, and then backed that up with a thrilling drive from the back of the field to take second in the race run later in the day. Hale, who was a front-runner in the Ginetta Junior Championship last year before stepping up to Formula Renault for 2010, also scored bonus points in both races for setting the fastest laps.
In wet conditions on Saturday, Mitchell romped to an easy pole position in qualifying for the first race, but was restricted to fourth place in qualifying for race two. “I got pole by seven tenths of a second, which was pretty good,” he said. “The second session wasn’t quite as wet, and we didn’t think it would rain again, but unfortunately it did before I got a proper lap in.”
With raceday dry, Hale was running on a brand-new set of slick Michelin tyres and had to bear this in mind. “I had to work them really hard on my lap round to the grid and then on the green-flag lap before the start,” he explained. “Then I went steady right at the beginning of the race but the tyres were pretty good. I made one mistake and got caught up a little bit, but after that I was able to work on pulling away and it was pretty simple.”
Unfortunately, Mitchell stalled at the start of race two, and estimates that he dropped to 14th position – almost last! – before storming back through the pack. “I need to do some practice starts before the next race weekend!” he admitted. “After that it was great fun. There was a bit of carnage on the first lap and I made up six or seven places, then I kept picking them off one by one.”
With six laps to go, Hale was into third position, 4.2 seconds behind the driver in second. Time to settle for a podium? Not a bit of it! “I just thought that if the guy ahead made a mistake or something, then I needed to be in a position close enough to be able to capitalise. On the penultimate lap, he made a mistake at Becketts and I got a good run and was able to go around the outside of him at the next corner. That was pretty satisfying.”
Hale now sits on top of the Formula Renault BARC points table with two of the six race weekends completed, and a long gap until the next round, at Croft in North Yorkshire on July 3rd/4th.
“I’m pretty pleased with how everything has started off for me in Formula Renault and we just need to get some testing in so that I’m sharp for the next round,” he said.