The BRDC F4 Championship resumes this weekend (21/22 June) at Snetterton, with an international grid of young drivers determined to show their mettle, when the series supports the British GT and F3 Championships in Norfolk.
The fight at the top has so far been between two drivers, Lanan Racing’s George Russell and HHC Motorsport’s Raoul Hyman. Russell has claimed three race wins from six races to Hyman’s two.
Hyman has been the quickest driver in qualifying, with two pole positions, which he converted to victory on both occasions, but luck hasn’t quite been on his side.
Russell has shown imperious form to lead the title race by 21 points from the South African after the opening six races. Indeed, Lanan and HHC fill the top five places, with Arjun Maini (Lanan), Sennan Fielding (HHC) and Will Palmer (HHC) the other early front runners.
Despite being a newcomer to cars, 16-year-old Russell is not surprised to be leading the way after a quarter of the season, following a strong pre-season testing campaign.
“After pre season testing we were confident of good results this year and we expected to be fighting for wins and the championship lead” he says. “We’ve accomplished that so far and we just need to keep applying the pressure as there are a lot of guys who are hot on our heels. Lanan Racing have done a great job so far - myself, Arjun and Struan have been very quick this season and the team deserve a lot of credit.”
Russell also counts Snetterton as his local venue, living an hour away from the circuit in Wisbech, and expects to go well once more: “Our pace at Snetterton pre-season was very strong and I had a very good test before the media day where our times compared very well to the others. Obviously the goal is to keep winning this weekend.”
Hyman is looking to close down the gap, having come within just one point of the lead after winning the first race of the Brands Hatch weekend. He’s not taking anything for granted though, and knows several drivers in the field are capable of fighting for wins and even the championship.
Hyman said: “There are a lot of good guys in the championship who are yet to have the race-run that their speed deserves. You only have to look back to last year, where at this point Jake Dalton and Charlie Robertson seemed to be running away with it, and then at the last race there were six drivers all still in contention. I simply have to make sure that I’m developing quicker than the rest to give myself the best advantage.
“At Snetterton we need to continue doing as good a job as we can. I’m aiming for another pole in qualifying, which will put us in the driving seat for the rest of the weekend.”
Last time out, on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit, F4 served up three of the closest finishes of the championship’s short history, including the narrowest win margin seen so far when Hillspeed’s Gustavo Lima took his first F4 win by just 0.044s from Chris Middlehurst. F4’s newest winner is hoping to make victories a regular occurrence from now on, commenting: “I was really happy to finally take my first win, and it now gives me even more confidence to fight for the title. I know that I can win more races and my goal for the season is to win the championship.”
The pre-season test day was held on the three-mile Snetterton circuit, where Lanan’s Struan Moore set the fastest time, just 0.006s quicker than Hyman. He’s had a mixed season so far, but claimed his first ever F4 race win at the Norfolk venue last season, and is looking to take his first victory of the season to re-ignite his championship charge. “It’s been a very up-and-down season, some of it not my fault, but hopefully Snetterton will be where it all comes good and we’ll have a clean weekend. I’m looking for podiums and wins.”
Elsewhere, Sean Walkinshaw Racing’s Nicolas Beer is looking to hit back after scoring a blank at Brands Hatch. The Danish driver claimed a podium at Silverstone to demonstrate his competitiveness, but endured a difficult second round in Kent. He’s hoping to kick start his championship campaign this weekend.
Beer said: “Our speed so far this season has been fine and I went well at the official pre-season test at Snetterton, where I was fifth fastest, and therefore I’m very optimistic about the races there. I know I’m a quick driver and together with my team we will come back stronger.”
Pre-event testing at Snetterton takes place on Friday 20 June with qualifying and the first race of the weekend on Saturday. Two further races will take place on Sunday at 10.55 and 15.35. Tickets are priced from £18 and are available from www.snetterton.co.uk or by calling 0843 453 9000.
BRDC F4 Championship standings after race six of 24:
1. George Russell, Lanan Racing, 155pts2. Raoul Hyman, HHC Motorsport, 134pts3. Arjun Maini, Lanan Racing, 120pts4. Sennan Fielding, HHC Motorsport, 99pts5. Will Palmer, HHC Motorsport, 99pts6. Chris Middlehurst, Mark Godwin Racing, 91pts7. Diego Menchaca, Douglas Motorsport, 89pts8. Gustavo Lima, Hillspeed, 86pts9. Struan Moore, Lanan Racing, 70pts10. Rodrigo Fonseca, Douglas Motorsport, 61pts