Hillspeed made a dream start to their BRDC Formula 4 Championship campaign in the series’ maiden event at Silverstone last weekend, with teenage ace Seb Morris leaving as the early championship leader thanks to a hat-trick of podium finishes.
On a week which started with the Hathersage squad counting the cost of a road accident involving its race transporter following a tyre blow out, the team bounced back in the best possible style as Welshman Morris claimed the title lead with three impressive drives at the British Grand Prix venue, narrowly missing out on a win in the weekend’s second encounter.
Morris produced a superb drive from seventh on the grid to finish on the podium in the first ever Formula 4 Championship race on Saturday, leaping up to fifth at the start before dispatching team-mate Struan Moore for fourth on lap two, finally benefitting neatly from contact between race leaders Jake Dalton and Jake Hughes on lap five at Luffield to snatch second place.
Moore held fifth position for much of the encounter, but suffered in the final corners of the race when Charlie Robertson bundled him out of the way, the Jersey driver dropping to seventh spot as a consequence.
In round two on Sunday morning, it was Moore who starred initially by out-dragging pole-sitter Diego Menchaca to move into the race lead from second on the grid, but he was eased back to third by his rivals exiting Copse, Morris moving up to second after a sensational start from sixth.
Moore was soon helped down to fifth place on lap two while Morris meanwhile pulled a superb pass on Jack Barlow for the race lead at Village a lap later, quickly attempting to pull out a cushion with a series of fastest laps. However, the former Ginetta Junior champion surrendered his lead on the penultimate lap exiting the sweeping Maggotts and Becketts section, having to settle for second behind rookie Barlow while his team-mate Moore continued to be shuffled back towards an eventual eighth place finish.
In the third race later that afternoon, Morris again led by jumping from third on the grid into second at Maggotts, completing his hat-trick of podiums with the runner-up spot to conclude the first Formula 4 round as series leader, also setting the fastest lap of the race and being awarded his trophy by Formula 1 star Mark Webber as a added reward from a superb opening weekend.
“What a weekend!”, said principal Richard Ollerenshaw, “There has been a lot of hard work to get here, especially after the trials and tribulations of how the week started for us, and all three drivers have performed fantastically for us – especially with a very limited amount of testing.
“The team pulled together so well after the unfortunate incident on the way to the Media Day at Snetterton last Tuesday, everyone showed true character and spirit and we’ve come away with some exceptional results.”
Moore’s final race was ruined by an incident while battling well within the top 10, while Malaysia’s Rahul Raj Mayer – competing in his UK debut – rounded out the event 16th in the points table for Ollerenshaw’s team. Mayer finished 14th in round one followed by 18th in the second after an excursion, and 15th in the final race despite front wing damage having run as high as 12th.
“Unfortunately we picked up a bit of damage in race three with Struan and Rahul’s cars, Struan was just a victim of another driver trying a move which wasn’t on the cards while Rahul was unlucky to pick up front wing damage which spoiled an otherwise excellent drive for him”, added Ollerenshaw.
“All in all it’s been an exceptional weekend, for Seb to be leading the championship is just the start we wanted to make. Rahul and Struan have both done superbly well, Rahul had only had one day in the car before coming to Silverstone and Struan only had a day and a half. In fact, Seb only had a couple of days so we’ve probably got the three drivers who had the least amount of testing.”