First win and British F4 points lead for Sebastian Alvarez at Brands
Debutant Louis Foster victorious in only second Formula 4 race
Sebastian Alvarez made a tremendous start to the 2019 F4 British Championship certified by FIA powered by Ford EcoBoost season at Brands Hatch over the weekend, 6th/7th April, with a hat-trick of podiums, and a maiden category win, delivering the Double R Racing driver the early points lead. Returning for his second season in British F4 with the Woking team this year, the Mexican teenager was in great form throughout the opening event at the Kent venue’s 1.2-mile Indy Circuit and ended the weekend in style with a pressure-filled win in round three on Sunday afternoon.
Every bit as impressive was British F4 debutant Louis Foster who secured his first victory in only his second race in single-seaters. Originally ending round two on Sunday morning in a superb second place, just ahead of Alvarez, a post-race penalty for rival Luke Browning elevated the team-mates into first and second. Foster duly went on to depart Brands Hatch third in the standings.
Reema Juffali, the first ever female racing driver from Saudi Arabia, made excellent gains throughout her maiden weekend in British F4 and the history-making racer – who hadn’t tested a single-seater until February – deservingly claimed her first championship points with ninth in race two.
“What a great weekend, an absolutely fantastic start to the season with two wins which shows what a great job the boys have done in the workshop with the cars”, said Anthony Hieatt, team principal of Double R, “Sebastian has done a lot of work over the winter to go from being in the midfield last season to now become a race winner at the start of the new season, he did a great job all weekend.
“Louis had a great debut, taking a win on his first weekend in British F4 is outstanding and he’s only going to get stronger as the year goes on – we’ve got very high hopes for him. Obviously, it was a big weekend for Reema and she made a fantastic start to her career in F4. We’re super impressed with how she’s improving and she certainly did her home nation proud with points in race two.”
Impressive start to 2019 for Double R on home ground at Brands
Double R began the opening weekend of the season very strongly indeed with second year racer Alvarez, the Mexican teenager topping the times in the first of the test sessions on Friday, 5th April, and then finishing second fastest for the day – a mere 0.043 seconds shy of the outright pace.Incredibly, the top five overall were covered by only 0.085 seconds with British F4 newcomer Foster ending the test fifth quickest. Juffali, meanwhile, made huge progress between the two sessions to gain a full 1.6 seconds and the Saudi Arabian concluded the test 13th on the times.
In qualifying on Saturday morning, Alvarez was firmly in the fight for a maiden pole position and only missed out on the top spot of the grid by a mere 0.031 seconds. So close and evenly matched were the lead contenders once again, the Double R racer had to settle for the third fastest time. Team-mate Foster qualified sixth on the grid for his first British F4 race, less than 0.2 seconds away from pole, with Juffali an equally impressive 11th fastest on her category debut and only a second shy of the outright pace – a considerable achievement.
The weather changed for race one on Saturday, which took place on a wet track, but Alvarez made the most of the conditions at the start to rocket into the early lead. Opening an advantage of two seconds by the end of lap three, he led until the eighth tour when edged back to second place where he stayed to the flag on lap 22 – his first outright podium in the championship.Foster, too, made a great start and climbed into the podium placings before slipping to fourth on the second tour. Holding station well until just past mid-distance on his competitive single-seater debut, the former Ginetta Junior driver eventually ended the race seventh after losing some ground late on.
History-maker Juffali’s hopes were unfortunately impacted when some early contact necessitated a pit visit, where the team mechanics worked to swiftly replace a damaged track rod. After rejoining the race several laps down, she eventually finished in 12th position.
Due to thick fog covering the circuit on Sunday morning, the day’s action was shaken up and round two of the F4 season was delayed until the early afternoon – having originally been timetabled as the opening race.Alvarez lined-up fifth on the damp grid, with Foster seventh and Juffali in 12th spot, and after climbing into the top four at the start Alvarez then moved into the podium positions on lap seven after an excursion for Bart Horston, which then triggered the appearance of the Safety Car.Racing resumed on lap 11 with Alvarez third, Foster in sixth place and Juffali inside the top 10 but Alvarez was edged back to fourth shortly after the re-start. On lap 13 the Mexican seized his chance to retake third, as Luke Browning and Joe Turney battled, and just behind Foster started to make his presence felt by taking fifth and then fourth in quick succession.
As the race neared its conclusion, Foster had closed onto the rear wing of his team-mate and after some sensational wheel-to-wheel action the British teen managed to make third place his with a pass at Surtees on lap 18. Continuing to run nose-to-tail, everything then changed dramatically on the 22nd and final lap when Browning tagged Zane Maloney while attempting to take the lead.
Elevating Foster and Alvarez into second and third as a result, after Browning’s post-race penalty was applied it became a maiden victory for Foster. Juffali made gains during the closing stages, moving up into ninth with four laps to go to secure very well deserved championship points.
For the third race of the weekend, Alvarez lined-up on pole position and he aced the start to lead comfortably into Paddock Hill Bend. Although under pressure throughout the 26 lapper, Alvarez didn’t put a wheel wrong and delivered a bullet-proof performance. He also set the quickest race lap of the weekend, a time 46.667 seconds (93.18mph), en-route to opening a 15 point series lead.Foster, from fourth on the grid, remained there throughout the encounter but made his presence felt lap after lap and only just missed out on his second podium by 0.4 seconds. Juffali gained more key experience, and finished just outside the top 10 in 11th place.
Donington Park National Circuit in Leicestershire will host the next three rounds of British F4 action three weeks from now, over the weekend 27th/28th April. Before then, Double R will get its 2019 BRDC British Formula 3 Championship campaign underway at Oulton Park in Cheshire on Saturday, 20th April, and Easter Monday, 22nd April.
2019 British F4 Championship Standings
1st Sebastian Alvarez, 61pts; 3rd Louis Foster, 43pts; 12th Reema Juffali, 2pts