The 2014 BRDC F4 Winter Championship draws to a conclusion this weekend (22-23 November) on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit, with the title battle wide open with four races remaining.
HHC Motorsport’s Will Palmer looked to be stealing a march on his rivals at the opening round at Snetterton with three straight victories, but PetroBall’s Gaetano di Mauro ended the British driver’s hopes of a clean sweep with triumph in the final encounter.
Just 12 points separate the two protagonists heading into the weekend. The pair are a comfortable margin ahead of their nearest rivals, but the battle for third is intense, with the next four drivers covered by just 19 points. Rodrigo Fonseca, a double podium finisher at Snetterton, lies third, but just four points ahead of Connor Jupp, racing for European Radical champions Mectech Motorsport, who enjoyed a strong start to their first venture into single seater racing. Harri Newey, son of F1 design legend Adrian, is just four points further back in fifth place, with Jordan Albert, who also took a double podium at Snetterton, in sixth place.
Meanwhile, newcomers to the championship, Zubair Hoque, Fernando Urrutia and Enzo Bortoleto also showed signs of promise, particularly Hoque, who set the fastest time in the opening test session prior to the weekend.
Title leader Will Palmer commented: “It was great to get off to such a strong start at Snetterton as it puts me in a strong position heading to Brands Hatch, which is a track I am normally quite strong at. I am sure the weather will play a part at this time of year as it did at Snetterton, but having shown there that we can be strong whatever the conditions, I’m confident we’ll be once again fighting for victories.
“In terms of the championship, given the points gap, the champion will be either me or Gaetano [di Mauro], however that’s not to say other people won’t be fighting at the front this weekend. The field is always very close on the Indy circuit, so I think for both Gaetano and I, finishing in the top two won’t be anywhere near as easy as it was at Snetterton.”
Di Mauro was a race winner at Brands Hatch in the main season, and is optimistic he can take the title fight to Palmer at Brands Hatch: “I’m feeling really focussed and I’m going to Brands Hatch with the aim of winning the championship. Palmer has shown good pace at Brands Hatch before, but I won when we were last at Brands Hatch so I’m confident. It’s going to be a very interesting fight between us!”
Joining the championship this weekend is experienced Dutch single seater racer Paul Sieljes, who joins Chris Dittmann Racing. The 21-year-old is a previous runner-up at the Formula Ford Festival in the Zetec category, and has competed in Formula Renault NEC 1.6 for the past two seasons.
Sieljes commented: “I’m really looking forward to racing in the UK again, and in the very competitive BRDC F4 Championship. Having raced successfully at Brands Hatch before, I’m optimistic of strong results. By working alongside the Chris Dittmann Racing team I can push towards the front of the grid.”
Hoque believes he can challenge for the podium this weekend at Brands Hatch, after his strong performances at Snetterton. He said: “I learned a lot at Snetterton, and hope to take that forward to Brands Hatch. There were some flashes of pace and it’s just a case of getting everything together. At this moment it’s all about gathering experience ahead of a planned full season in BRDC F4 next year.
“At Brands I’m very confident of taking a podium. I was close at Snetterton but was overtaken after a safety car period. But I’m aiming for the top three now, and with Brands Hatch Indy being a shorter circuit, I’ll be able to do more laps in practice to get up to speed.”
As at Snetterton, the weekend will see one qualifying session and two races per day, with the final event of the weekend on Sunday afternoon likely to reveal who will follow in the footsteps of last year’s winner Matty Graham and become BRDC F4 Winter Champion.
BRDC F4 Winter Championship standings after race four of eight:*
1. Will Palmer, HHC Motorsport, 134pts2. Gaetano di Mauro, PetroBall Racing, 122pts3. Rodrigo Fonseca, Douglas Motorsport, 84pts4. Connor Jupp, Mectech Motorsport, 80pts 5. Harri Newey, HHC Motorsport, 76pts6. Jordan Albert, SWR - Caterham F1, 65pts7. Zubair Hoque, HHC Motorsport, 61pts8. Fernando Urrutia, SWR - Caterham F1, 41pts9. Enzo Bortoleto, PetroBall Racing, 25pts
Text updates and live timing will be available on the BRDC F4 Championship website www.formula4.com throughout the weekend, and on the official championship social media feeds. Testing commences on Thursday, with a further two hours’ running on Friday, before the opening qualifying session at 9.25am on Saturday.