The 2014 BRDC F4 Championship reaches the halfway mark this weekend (18/19 July) on the sensational Oulton Park International circuit, with the championship race finely poised.
Lanan Racing’s British star George Russell continues to lead the standings, 21 points ahead of South Africa’s Raoul Hyman, with both drivers scoring the same amount of points last time out at Snetterton.
Russell entered F4 with a strong pedigree in karting, with 13 championship titles in five years, and has carried his form into F4, winning three of the opening nine races and leading the championship since the second day of the season at Silverstone in April. While Snetterton last time out was the first weekend Russell didn’t score a win, a double podium ensured he kept his championship points advantage over Hyman, who has claimed two wins so far, both from pole position.
A recent bout of chickenpox has been a setback for the championship leader, but the 16-year-old retains his steely focus and is determined to return to winning ways in Cheshire: “It’s been fairly frustrating to be honest and a bit worrying at first,” he commented. “I’m recovering, though, and I’m feeling fine in myself, but I’ve been told by the doctors to rest and chill out, which is a bit annoying!
“It was disappointing not to get a win at Snetterton as we were quick there, but at least we got a couple of podiums. I’m sure things will change at Oulton Park and I’m confident we’ll be winning again.
“I’ve only had one day in a single seater at Oulton Park, which was my first ever test with Lanan. It’s a great circuit, right up there with the best I’ve driven on, and the end to the lap is particularly thrilling as the barriers are close and you feel like you’re driving on the limit.”
Hyman’s HHC team mate Will Palmer dominated at Snetterton last time out, scoring two wins and claiming the record for the most points scored in a single F4 race weekend to climb to third in the standings.
Palmer is keen to continue his run of form, on one of his favourite circuits: “I really like Oulton Park, it is a circuit with very similar characteristics to Brands Hatch GP, in that the run off areas are very limited and there are a lot of high speed corners, which means there is very little margin for error.
“I was quite fast at Brands and testing at Oulton Park has been encouraging, so I hope to be fighting at the front again this weekend and show that my performances at Snetterton were not just a one off!”
Snetterton saw a debut win for Russell’s team mate Arjun Maini, who lies fourth in the points. With the duck broken, Maini is keen to continue with the winning habit: “I’m very determined to take more wins. It was great to get the first one at Snetterton but I actually dropped a position in the championship at the end of the weekend, so I need to focus on being more consistent.”
HHC’s Sennan Fielding is 30 points further back in fifth, and is desperate to claim his first main season win in the series after recording his third podium of the season at Snetterton, while Douglas Motorsport’s Diego Menchaca, sixth in the standings, is also edging ever closer to his first win.
Oulton Park is the local round for Chris Middlehurst, and the 2013 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award finalist believes this weekend poses his best chance yet to take a victory in F4: “I won my first ever car race at Oulton Park in 2011, and it’s my favourite track. I’m going to have lots of family and friends at the circuit as it’s my local round, and my sponsors will be coming along too. This is my best chance yet this season to do well.”
Another driver aiming high after a strong result at Snetterton is Gaetano di Mauro. The Brazilian youngster took his and PetroBall Racing’s best ever result with fifth in the final race of the weekend in Norfolk and he’s set his sights on the podium before the end of the season: “The team have worked well to help me move forward, and we’ve all improved a lot very quickly, so the next target has to be the podium.”
F4 also welcomes a new driver to the series this weekend in the form of Welsh youngster Tom Bale. The 16-year-old reigning Formula Gulf 1000 Champion has teamed up with Tom Jackson at Chris Dittmann Racing.
This weekend is unique for F4 in that qualifying and race one will take place on Friday afternoon, with races two and three following on Saturday. Qualifying is scheduled to start at 13.15 on Friday with race one commencing at 16.30, with races two and three taking place at 10.50 and 15.30 on Saturday.