Four years have passed since Ben Barnicoat last set foot in a single-seater, and a fair amount has changed since then. For a start, the Briton had never used DRS before. “I’d only seen it on TV,” he laughed.
For Rounds 4 and 5 at Silverstone, the once-European F3 racer has ditched his usual LMP2 sports car in favour of Carlin Buzz Racing F3 machine.
Barnicoat is an established name within sports car racing and is normally used to having a roof over his head, but had no hesitation when asked to take part in in his home event in F3 by Trevor Carlin, to replace Enaam Ahmed.
“My job here is to help Carlin out a bit,” he explained. “I have done a lot with them in sports cars and LMP2 and a situation came up where they needed someone to drive the car. I think I done the best I could, I jumped in and kept it nice and clean.
“A lot of people here are trying to work the way up their careers in single-seaters, and a lot of them probably have the dream of Formula 1. Whereas me, I have done that before, but I have moved into sports car, and that’s my career now – that’s where my job is.
“So, when I get an opportunity like this to step back in, I have a slightly different mentality. I knew this weekend, as much as I want to do well myself, I am here to help the team, and help them move forward.
“There are a couple of things that I tried in the race, that I might not necessarily have tried otherwise, but because I was here to help them, I didn’t mind sacrificing my result to an extent, in order to help the team.”
Considering his total lack of experience in the cars, Barnicoat didn’t do badly at all. He may not have finished in the points, but P12 in Race 2 was the No. 27 car’s best result so far this season.
A feat made all the more impressive given his focus was on gathering data and learning things for the team, as opposed to purely competition in the races.
“The trickiest thing was understanding the Pirellis,” he explained. “Anyone who does well in this championship, has to really understand what you need to do with them.
“Although it was a new car, a single-seater is kind of a single-seater, they all sort of do the same thing, but in slightly different ways. The main difference is in really understanding the tyres - they are the four things which connect you to the track. On one lap, they have really good grip and it is a good tyre to drive on, but it is the management side of it that’s very difficult.”
The Briton retains the seat for Round 5 of the campaign and is confident of improving further, while providing the team with even more information for whoever eventually takes the seat on a more permanent basis.
Until that happens, he’ll continue to enjoy the ride.
“I have learned about the car now and understand the tyres a bit more,” he continued. “It will be good to have another shot with some form of foundation, rather than starting from zero.
“To achieve that cars best result was great, but we know there’s more in it, after a few mistakes from my side in Qualifying.
“It will be nice to have another go and try and maximise it more in Qualifying, which will give me a shot at getting some points, but we'll wait and see.
“I am very grateful to Trevor Carlin for giving me this opportunity and it is great to get back in a single-seater.”