Oli Webb to race in British F3 with Fortec
One of Britain's brightest single-seater prospects, 18-year-old Oli Webb, has signed with the race-winning Fortec Motorsports team to contest the 2010 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series.
Manchester-based Webb steps up to F3 after two seasons in Formula Renault UK, where he has established himself with Fortec as one of the quickest and most consistent in the field. Oli won two races in 2009 and collected a further eight podium finishes on his way to championship third.
He's already pleasing the team with his F3 testing performances: "We have been impressed with how easily young Oliver has adapted to the car," says Fortec's senior race engineer Mick Kouros. "He has been in the top three at all the tests he's attended, and was quickest at a couple of those, particularly the wet-weather ones. We are sure that Oli is going to be among the very fastest in F3 next season."
University student Webb said: "I am delighted with how pre-season has gone so far and I am really happy with how I have adapted to the car. The Formula 3 car has a lot more downforce and engine power and the way it drives suits my driving style more than the Formula Renault car did.
"To have gone so well in the tests is more than I could have hoped for when I am up against guys with a year of experience in the car already. The list of drivers who have done a season or more in British F3 before going on to race at the highest level is pretty incredible and I am determined to join them."
Webb's Fortec drive means he will renew his rivalry with another top British prospect, James Calado, who beat him to the Formula Renault UK championship runner-up spot. Twenty-year-old Calado will be racing with the Carlin F3 team in 2010.
Webb's motorsport career began at the age of nine in cadet karting. The Michael Bentwood Management protégé's first car-racing experience came in 2005 in the T-Cars winter series, in which he was runner-up. After finishing third in T-Cars in 2006, Webb progressed to Formula BMW UK, and thence to Formula Renault, where he placed eighth overall in his maiden season.
The last British-born champion of British F3 was 2006 title-winner Mike Conway, who is about to become the latest in a long line of championship graduates to progress to the sport's top echelon. Conway is scheduled to join the Mercedes Grand Prix team, along with Swedish ace and British F3 race winner Marcus Ericsson, at the Jerez circuit in Spain later this week for F1's young driver test days.