Alex Palou Unfortunate To Miss BRDC F4 Podium On Series Debut

Top junior single-seater squad SWR came within a whisker of celebrating a welcome return to the BRDC Formula 4 Championship podium at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit over the weekend, 16th/17th August, with Spain’s Alex Palou only 0.5 seconds away from earning silverware on his series debut.Impressing from the outset, the 17-year-old EuroFormula Open race winner ran as high as second during his maiden race in BRDC F4 on Saturday afternoon before having to settle for a top four placing just shy of the rostrum. While a choice of treaded tyres in a wet-but-drying race two didn’t pay dividends, Palou did add a top five finish in the third encounter.Hometown racer Jordan Albert, who resides in neighbouring Silverstone village, was consistently in the fight just outside the top 10 in all three encounters at his local track and posted a best result of 13th position in the final race. Diego Borrelli, meanwhile, made the most of a wise slick tyre gamble in the rain-affected second outing to carve his way through into a weekend-best top 10 finish.“We’ve been really happy with Alex, he definitely had the pace to get on the podium”, reflected SWR team owner Sean Walkinshaw, “He came straight into the championship this weekend and was right on the pace, quick in all three races. He was a bit unlucky to miss out on the podium in the first race but it’s been great to be back at the front again, it proves a point.“Jordan did really well, he’s getting better and better and was in some really close battles with a lot of guys in all three races – the performance was there to be in the top 10. Diego did a good job and took the correct decision to put on slicks in race two and shone, he got a top 10 which was great and importantly kept the car on the track which a lot of others didn’t. He did extremely well.”Producing the seventh fastest time in qualifying on his BRDC Formula 4 debut, just 0.5 seconds shy of the front row of the grid, Palou actually began Saturday’s race from sixth position due to a penalty for a rival from the previous round.Making a terrific getaway, the Spanish teenager moved into fifth and then fourth in quick succession before impressively claiming third position at Village. After a stunning opening lap, Palou set about trying to unseat second placed Struan Moore and managed to get ahead at The Loop on lap three.Moore, however, hit back straight away to push Palou back to third where he remained until lap eight when Arjun Maini managed to get ahead of the SWR driver. Refusing to be dropped, Palou impressively took the flag on lap 10 just 0.5 seconds adrift of the podium on his series bow.Albert, lining-up 12th on the grid, enjoyed a terrific first lap to break into the top 10 and stayed there until the third tour when he was elbowed back a spot. Running in an evenly matched group, the SWR racer was nudged down to 13th at mid-distance and eventually concluded the race in 14th position.Team-mate Borrelli began the weekend’s opening encounter from 18th place and also put together a strong first lap to move up into the top 15. As part of the same closely packed group featuring Albert during the early going, the Venezuelan slipped to 16th place on lap five where he stayed to the finish.Round 14 on Sunday morning was all about tyre choice after earlier rainfall, but a rapidly drying track led to a quandary for the teams and drivers. While Palou and Albert ran with treaded tyres, Borrelli gambled on slick Yokohamas and that decision paid dividends.Starting in 16th place, Borrelli began to make progress from mid-distance as his confidence grew and pace improved. Into the top 15 on lap five, he had climbed into 12th place with a couple of laps to go and on the final tour gained two more positions to cap an incredibly impressive performance.Palou started the race fifth on the grid but an enforced spin on the opening lap, after being tagged by a rival, dropped him down to 16th position. Rising back into 13th place part-way through lap three, Palou traded the spot during the second half of the encounter and ultimately finished in 14th place but, post-race, was elevated back into 13th position when a rival was excluded from the results.Albert made very strong early progress from the seventh row of the grid and had moved to the cusp of the top 10 by the end of lap two. Running in 11th position, the Briton slipped to 12th on the third tour before dropping four more places during the second half of the race as his wet-weather tyres lost performance. Due to post-race exclusions, though, he was credited in 14th position.Dry and bright weather greeted the drivers ahead of round 15 with Palou starting in fifth position, although he was edged down to sixth on the opening lap. On lap three, though, he produced a great pass into Brooklands to move back into fifth where he remained for the rest of the 10 lap contest.Borrelli lined-up in 14th position but was elbowed back three places on the first lap, although he did manage to work his way back into 16th place on the fourth tour. The Venezuelan’s race then took a hit on lap six when a tangle with Alfredo Zabalza at Aintree resulted in a spin and a slip to 21st position.With nothing to choose between half a dozen cars in the mid-pack, Albert had another close battle on his hands. Beginning in 16th position, he smartly gained three places on lap one before moving into the top 12 on the second tour. Edged back to 13th place a lap later, he stayed there to the end.There are only two weeks to wait until the next event on the BRDC Formula 4 calendar with rounds 16, 17 and 18 set to take place over the weekend 30th/31st August at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit.Provisional 2014 BRDC Formula 4 Championship driver standings (after Rd15):13th Jordan Albert, 116pts; 16th Nicolas Beer, 87pts; 17th Diego Borrelli, 81pts; 20th Alex Palou, 48pts

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