The 2014 BRDC F4 Championship draws to a conclusion this weekend at Snetterton (25-26 October), with six drivers vying to emulate Jake Hughes and become champion, after a thrilling season of competition. The prize package is well worth fighting for. The 2014 champion will receive a test in an Arden Motorsport GP3 car at the official end-of-season test at Abu Dhabi, as well as a cheque for £25,000.
Arjun Maini, George Russell, Sennan Fielding, Raoul Hyman, Struan Moore and Will Palmer are the drivers in contention, but it’s Maini who holds a 21 point lead at the top of the standings with three races remaining. Maini’s lead is a reasonably comfortable one, but the title battle is mathematically guaranteed to go down to the final day, with 35 points available on Saturday, and 60 on Sunday.
Indian racer Maini took over at the top after the final race of the Donington Park weekend last time out, following a dramatic contest which saw him and all the other championship contenders hitting trouble of some sort.
Controversially, Hyman and Russell collided for the second time this season; Fielding and Palmer also made contact; and a spin from Moore meant he too finished lower down the order. Maini triumphed despite a gravelly moment of his own, and now heads to Snetterton as a slight favourite for the title.
Maini commented: “I’m hitting form at the right time, and I’ve got a lot of confidence. I actually think there is more pressure on the others to keep up with me. I just need to continue what I’ve been doing over the last few rounds and keep running at the front. I think a few people may have the ‘go big or go home’ mentality, which should make the racing very interesting, and I need to make sure I steer clear of that.”
Until the Donington round, Maini’s team-mate Russell had been the season-long leader. He started his season in style at Silverstone, where he won two of the three races. Further wins at Brands Hatch and Oulton Park followed, and he looked to be on course to claim his fifth win of the year until the Donington drama.
A finalist in this year’s McLaren Autosport BRDC Award, Russell is still confident of claiming the title: “At Donington we returned to the pace we had at the start of the year, but the outcome was obviously very disappointing. But if we can keep that pace up at Snetterton and be at the front, we should be out of trouble’s reach and be able to get some big points. I got pole last time we were at Snetterton so I need to emulate that. Wins are the main target as ever and the championship remains my main focus. I need to win.”
A late charge up the order means HHC’s Sennan Fielding is right in the mix ahead of the finale, and like Russell, has been named as a finalist for this year’s McLaren Autosport BRDC Award. The 18-year-old was almost 100 points adrift at the mid-season point, but turned his season around with a treble win at Silverstone in August, the first time any driver has won all three races in an F4 weekend. He followed that up with another win at Donington.
Fielding believes that the racing will be intense this weekend: “Snetterton is going to be hectic. Everyone is going to want to win, but we have shown that we are strong there and have good pace. Arjun [Maini] has all the pressure on him now, but if I can have some clean races, hopefully I can take it down to the wire.”
Hyman has taken three wins this year and is 38 points shy of the lead. But the feisty South African is targeting a strong end to the season which could yet land him the crown.
"The gap to the front is quite big now," Hyman commented, "so on one hand the pressure is off, but on the other hand I head to Snetterton knowing and believing that I can still win the championship. It’s still wide open, and I need to win as many races as possible. Sennan proved at Silverstone that it is possible to win all three races in a weekend, and that’s what I need to do. It’s going to be a tense weekend to say the least."
Struan Moore in fifth place and Will Palmer in sixth are both mathematically in with a chance of winning the title. Moore has been one of the form men in the second half of the season, taking a victory in tricky conditions at Oulton Park, and taking five podiums in nine races since to remain in contention.
Palmer has made strong progress in his first single seater campaign, the high point coming at the last Snetterton round in June, where he won two of the three races and broke the then record for most points scored in an F4 race weekend.
Aside from the championship battle, it’s been another extremely competitive season, with nine drivers claiming race wins, and 12 drivers taking podium finishes. The race to secure the £1,000 prize for the Jack Cavill Pole Position Cup, currently led by Sennan Fielding, also remains wide open.
BRDC F4 Championship standings after round 21 of 24:
1. Arjun Maini, Lanan Racing, 432pts2. George Russell, Lanan Racing, 411pts3. Sennan Fielding, HHC Motorsport, 399pts4. Raoul Hyman, HHC Motorsport, 394pts5. Struan Moore, Lanan Racing, 358pts6. Will Palmer, HHC Motorsport, 349pts7. Diego Menchaca, Douglas Motorsport, 277pts8. Chris Middlehurst, MGR Motorsport, 253pts9. Gaetano di Mauro, Petroball Racing, 250pts10. Jordan Albert, SWR - Caterham F1, 212pts