George Russell has extended his BRDC Formula 4 Championship lead to 27 points following victory in the first of three races at Oulton Park in Cheshire. The Lanan Racing driver was never headed, despite being chased by HHC Motorsport’s championship contenders Raoul Hyman and Will Palmer, in the only race of the year to be held on a Friday. He got away cleanly from the pole as the HHC team mates battled behind and built an eventual lead of 9.143 seconds over the twelve lap encounter.
Hyman had hoped to get the jump on the championship leader at the start but was attacked by Palmer through Old Hall and down the Cascades. MGR Motorsport racer Chris Middlehurst held a watching brief in fourth place as the battle for second carried the pair across the line at the end of the first tour, a second down on the race leader. The close nature of the battle meant that when Palmer slipped up on lap two, he fell to sixth place promoting Middlehurst along with Struan Moore for Lanan and Sennan Fielding in the third HHC entry. Palmer would come to rue a slip up at the chicane which also cost him his fastest lap time.
The three way fight for second, joined by Moore in the dying moments of the second lap, raged for the entire race. Moore was less than a second behind Middlehurst at the close of the race with Sennan Fielding a relatively distant fifth place, a second behind the Lanan machine. Palmer held onto sixth place ahead of the third Lanan entry of Arjun Maini and Tom Jackson in seventh for Chris Dittmann Racing.
Gustavo Lima was the best Hillspeed driver in ninth with Douglas Racing and Diego Menchaca rounding out the top ten.
Sean Walkinshaw Racing took eleventh place thanks to Nicolas Beer. The Dane fought valiantly to make the top ten but fell half a second short. He was well clear of Gaetano di Mauro’s Petroball Racing car in twelfth and Hillspeed team mates Alfredo Zabalza and Rahul Raj Mayer in thirteenth and fourteenth respectively.
Michael Claessens in the second MGR Motorsport run MSV F4-013 had a great scrap with Jordan Albert’s SWR machine. The pair crossed the line with the Dutchman holding the advantage of only 0.152 seconds, by far the closest battle of any in the field at the close. Tom Bale for Chris Dittmann, Charlie Eastwood in the second Douglas Motorsport entry and Diego Borrelli for SWR finished in the penultimate spot.
Roderigo Fonseca was the final driver to cross the line in a race were every starter made it the finish. The Mexican in the third Douglas machine was the only driver to fall off the lead lap.
While the race ran clean and green for its duration it was also a slow one. The race was decided on laps completed but Russell couldn’t have cut it much closer to the time limit. BRDC F4 races are limited to 12 laps or 20 minutes, whichever comes first, and Russell took the chequered flag with only 2.595 seconds left on the counter. Races at Silverstone and Snetterton are usually run to time but in the dry and hot conditions of Oulton Park it would be expected that races should be easily decided on the lap counter.
A delighted Russell said, “The first two laps were really difficult. Raoul made quite a good start and challenged me at the first corner, the first three quarters of the lap were quite hairy!
“Once I got my head down I could just push and extend the lead. I was just pumping the times in every single lap and trying to extend the lead and Oulton Park is not the easiest track in the world. Every lap around Oulton is difficult but I’m really happy to get my fourth win of the year.”