Arjun Mani has claimed his fourth BRDC Formula 4 Championship win of the season in a hectic final race of the day at Donington Park, moving in to the lead of the title fight with just three races left on the calendar. Disaster for rivals George Russell and Raoul Hyman, not to mention Sennan Fielding and Will Palmer, allowed the Indian racer to leapfrog Russell in the title standings on a weekend where the top three order changed in each race.
Russell lined up on pole position thanks to a fastest lap in the first race of the weekend, with his Lanan Racing team mate Maini alongside. A confused first lap saw Maini challenge into Redgate before falling back to fifth place. Hyman meanwhile climbed to second place, which he held for all of a lap before the drama started.
Hyman first attempted to pass Russell into Godard’s at the end of lap 2 with a do or die lunge. Will Palmer took this moment to mis-judge a move on Sennan Fielding which ended his participation in the race and sent Fielding tumbling down a closely packed field. Palmer has been handed a ten place grid penalty to be served at the first race on Snetterton’s 300 circuit during the season finale.
With Palmer out and Fielding hobbled, attention returned to the leading duo. Redgate, Holly Wood and the Crainer Curves saw close racing until contact, caused by Hyman, knocked both title hopefuls out of the race at Old Hairpin. The HHC racer has also been handed a ten place grid drop for Snetterton though he has appealed the ruling to the National Court.
The result of the fun and games was that a recovering Arjun Maini had reclaimed the lead of the race with Struan Moore in second in the final Lanan MSV F4-013 and Douglas Racing holding third thanks to Diego Menchaca. Maini built his lead up to two seconds before hitting debris at the Esses and running wide. That put him back into close combat with his team mate Moore. The two Lanan cars crossed the line side by side at the end of lap six, the halfway point in an already exhausting thriller.
Less than two and a half seconds split the top eight drivers at the halfway mark.
Yet again Maini, the race leader with the nine lives of a cat, constructed a slim but useful margin. He brought the lead out to almost a second before Diego Menchaca found his turn of speed and closed up. There was little the Mexican could do though and Maini crossed the line to regain the lead of the championship, along with the momentum headed to the final meeting in Norfolk, the first time since the opening round of the championship that anyone but George Russell has headed the points table.
Jordan Albert for SWR – Caterham F1 took the final podium spot ahead of Charlie Eastwood in the second of three top ten placed Douglas machines. Rodrigo Fonseca grabbed fifth place in his Douglas run car ahead of Rahul Raj Mayer’s Hillspeed entry. Alfredo Zabalza, Mayer’s team mate took eighth place in a rare weekend which saw the Hillspeed cars out of the top ten for two of the three races.
Meridian Racing will be celebrating their best BRDC F4 finish after Connor Jupp took seventh palce. Fielding and Moore recovered to ninth and tenth respectively.
The title standings now show Arjun Maini 21 points clear of erstwhile championship leader George Russell. Sennan Fielding sits in third ahead of his HHC team mate Hyman, though with a ten place penalty for the first race at Snetterton is likely to drop him further back. Struan Moore sits in fifth place with Will Palmer in sixth with at least a theoretical chance at the title.
In addition to the BRDC Formula 4 race winner’s trophy, Arjun Maini was presented with the Raymond Mays Silver Salver trophy by Donington Park.