Will Palmer took a dominant lights-to-flag victory at Oulton Park (Saturday) as the 2015 Duo BRDC Formula 4 Championship got underway at the Cheshire circuit. The Southwater ace had secured pole position ahead of his teammate Harri Newey and he once again bested his fellow HHC Motorsport driver to claim the win by 4.815s. An overjoyed Sebastian Lanzetti rounded out the podium and assured that the top three in qualifying was replicated in the opening race of the season.
Palmer, younger son of ex-Formula One driver Jonathan and brother to Lotus F1 Team Third Driver Jolyon, made a strong getaway from pole and maintained his advantage into the first turn as the rest of the field made it through the first few corners cleanly. Behind him, Newey made a less successful getaway and was jumped immediately by the Hillspeed car of Sebastian Lanzetti who slid down the inside into the first corner.
Newey, son of renowned Formula One designer Adrian, was soon filling the South African’s wing mirrors as the gap to Palmer began to grow, up to 2.076s after the first lap. He eventually got past on lap three after pulling a brilliant move on the unsuspecting Lanzetti at Knickerbrook, darting down the inside of the red and white machine on turn in. He got his head down and pulled out a gap on Lanzetti and set about eating into Palmer’s lead. Further back, a great scrap for fourth had developed with Chris Dittmann Racing’s Tom Jackson leading a gaggle of cars including the Lanan Racing trio of Bartholomew, Mealin and Fonseca with Ecurie Ecosse Young Driver Ciaran Haggerty also in the mix.
Palmer reasserted his dominance over Newey in the middle stages and eked out the gap on his teammate to over four seconds. He remained untroubled for the rest of the race and came home comfortably to take to the top step of the inaugural 2015 BRDC F4 podium with Newey second and Lanzetti third. The battle for fourth saw drivers having to both attack and defend throughout but the order remained unchanged as Chris Dittmann Racing’s Tom Jackson led home Bartholomew, Haggerty and Mealin.
South African racer Sisa Ngebulana managed to pass a slowing Fonseca for eighth shortly before the end of the race and will start from pole position in Monday’s race two by virtue of his eighth-place finish. The top-10 was completed by Douglas Motorsport’s Mexican racer Fernando Urrutia.
Palmer, speaking after the race, said: “It is the perfect start to the season for me. I made a good start, got my head down and built a good gap so it was all about managing that to the end of the race. I’m looking forward to the reverse grid race on Monday and hopefully I can progress through the field.”
Runner-up Harri Newey added: "I lost second place at the start and then spent a few laps behind Sebastian's car which didn't help me. I finally got past but by that time Will had dissapeared into the distance and I couldn't catch him. I am going to push for wins throughout the season but I also have to keep scoring points as it is a long championship."
An ecstatic Sebastian Lanzetti after finishing third commented: “I didn’t expect it (third place) at all. The team did an amazing job and I’m really pleased with the result. The team is putting in a lot of effort along with my Dad, who got me here in the first place, so it is going to be an amazing year.”
The top three received their trophies on the podium from McLaren GT Junior Driver and 2014 British GT4 Champion Ross Wylie.
2015 Duo BRDC F4 Race One result, Oulton Park
1. Will Palmer, HHC Motorsport, 12 Laps 2. Harri Newey, HHC Motorsport, +4.815s 3. Sebastian Lanzetti, Hillspeed, +6.248s 4. Tom Jackson, Chris Dittmann Racing, +14.409s 5. Jack Bartholomew, Lanan Racing, +15.046s 6. Ciaran Haggerty, Ecurie Ecosse/GBR, +15.285s 7. Chris Mealin, Lanan Racing, +16.046s 8. Sisa Ngebulana, HHC Motorsport, +20.531s 9. Rodrigo Fonseca, Lanan Racing, +20.966s 10. Fernando Urrutia, Douglas Motorsport, +22.461s 11. Akhil Rabindra, Douglas Motorsport, +23.125s 12. Jack Lang, Lang Sport, +30.005s 13. Michael O'Brien, Mark Godwin Racing, +32.203s 14. Al Faisal Al Zubair, Hillspeed, +33.601s 15. Zubair Hoque, Sean Walkinshaw Racing, +34.315s 16. Ameya Vaidyanathan, Hillspeed, +36.325s 17. Hernan Fallas, Mark Godwin Racing, +40.749s 18. Jordan Albert, Sean Walkinshaw Racing, +43.437s 19. James Reveler, 23 Racing, +1:23.904s
Two further F4 races will take place at 10:40 and 14:35 on Easter Monday at Oulton Park.