Armstrong Hits Back after Promising Vallelunga Weekend


Armstrong collected 58 points over the three races at Vallelunga (Credit: ACI Sport)

The third round of the Italian F4 Championship threw up a few surprising results with three different winners from the three races at Vallelunga. Saying that, it was Marcus Armstrong, winner of race two, who came away with the most points and thus an equal share of the championship lead with Lorenzo Colombo, who failed to even record a podium.

It was an incredible performance for Ian Rodriguez in race one that saw him take his maiden race victory as guest driver Felipe Drugovich proved to be a constant threat up front and taking the final win.

Elsewhere, DR Formula returned to prominence with Artem Petrov taking three podiums (including full points in race three due to Drugovich being a guest) while Aldo Festante took two more to elevate him into the top eight. Poor weekends from Job Van Uitert and Sebastian Fernandez sees the series open up into a five driver championship.

Race One

Winner: Ian Rodriguez – DRZ Benelli

The lack of any sharp corners in the first half of the lap allowed the cars to battle through the high-speed turns. It was a four way fight with polesitter Artem Petrov, Marcus Armstrong and Ian Rodriguez jostling for the overall lead.

Eventually Rodriguez found a way in front and broke from the pack. This left Petrov holding off Armstrong and Felipe Drugovich, with Job Van Uitert quickly catching.

A haul of points went begging for Aldo Festante as the Italian was passed by Sebastian Fernandez, only for Festante to lunge back at the following corner, spinning the pair. Both retired.

Back at the front, Armstrong was getting impatient behind Petrov, allowing the on form Sophia Florsch to scythe through the pack and challenge them. Florsch’s rise was cut short though as she ran wide overtaking Petrov, breaking her suspension.

Rodriguez meanwhile, would cruise to an easy win from Armstrong, as Petrov held off pressure from four cars for a podium. Drugovich, Van Uitert, Leonardo Lorandi and Arjun Maini completed the train, with Lirim Zendeli eighth.

While fighting for victory in race three, Artem Petrov (#42) hit DR Formula teammate Aldo Festante (#51) allowing Drugovich (#80) to take the flag.

Race Two

Winner: Marcus Armstrong – Prema Powerteam

A strong start from polesitter Marcus Armstrong saw the Prema Powerteam driver maintain the lead on the long run to the first breaking zone.

The green flag running only lasted a lap though with Lirim Zendeli launching off the back of another car and hurtling into the side of championship leader Job Van Uitert. The Dutchman’s retirement would be music to Armstrong’s ears who just needed to hold off Felipe Drugovich to catch up with the championship leaders.

Fortunately, for him, Drugovich quickly dropped behind Artem Petrov with Aldo Festante joining the battle. As for Lorenzo Colombo, he found himself in a race long battle with Louis Gachot, breaking part of his front wing in the fight for sixth.

Contact between Sophia Florsch and Gachot would give the Brit a puncture in the closing stages, forcing him into retirement and costing him valuable points

Minimal pressure throughout the race led to a collected victory from Armstrong, his first of the Italian F4 campaign. Petrov would take second as Drugovich was third, though will score no points due to being a guest driver.

Festante would hold on to fourth despite lackluster pace in the second half and pressure from Sebastian Fernandez. Colombo and Florsch completed the queue, as race one winner Ian Rodriguez came home for a quiet eighth place.

Race Three

Winner: Felipe Drugovich – Van Amersfoort Racing

A strong second encounter has allowed both DR Formula front-runners onto the front row, with Aldo Festante leading the pack away. The Italian was quickly swamped by teammate Artem Petrov as the pair attempted to pull away.

This would not be the case though as Petrov and Festante swapped around for a few laps, bringing Felipe Drugovich and Marcus Armstrong into the fight.

Behind them, Job Van Uitert completed a lack luster weekend as contact with Lorenzo Colombo sent him spinning out at the midway point. Further contact down the field cemented a disappointing round for Enzo Fittipaldi.

The deciding move for the lead was made by Petrov, with the Russian barging Festante onto two wheels and down to fourth. This of course gave an opportunity to those behind with Drugovich seizing the opportunity to take the lead.

Drugovich and Petrov broke away with the Brazilian taking the flag as Petrov collected his first 25 points, due to his rival being a guest. Festante worked his way back to third as Armstrong settled for fourth.

Behind them, Colombo was fifth, ahead of Ian Rodriguez, Leonardo Lorandi and Sophia Florsch who rounded out a potentially promising event in eighth.

Championship Standings; Colombo – 113; Armstrong – 113; Van Uitert – 101; Petrov – 99; Fernandez – 98; Lorandi – 65; Rodriguez – 64; Festante – 49; Zendeli – 49; Maini – 36.