Will Palmer holds a twelve point lead at the halfway mark of the 2014 BRDC Formula 4 Winter Championship after taking three wins from four races on the opening weekend at Snetterton, Gaetano di Mauro depriving him of a clean sweep with victory in the weekend closer.
A nine car field took to the grid for the second annual Winter Championship and it was di Mauro led the way in the opening qualifying session on Saturday morning, the PetroBall Racing ace finishing the session four tenths of a second clear of Palmer.
Di Mauro stormed away off the line to lead the opening race by over two seconds by the end of the opening lap, however his position was wiped away when he was given a ten second penalty for a false start.
Despite this, Palmer still set a string of fastest laps to close the gap on the road and the pair went wheel-to-wheel on lap seven, before he settled behind his rival to the flag to take the victory. Di Mauro initially sat sixth with the penalty, but strong lap times throughout the race meant he eventually only lost one position in the results.
Rodrigo Fonseca overtook Connor Jupp on lap two to take a third position he would maintain for the remainder of the race, with Jupp taking fourth for MecTech Motorsport on their F4 debut.
Jordan Albert took fifth on the road, however a five second penalty for exceeding track limits gifted the spot to Harri Newey. Zubair Hoque and Fernando Urrutia completed the finishers, while Enzo Bortoleto retired two laps from the end.
The grid for race two of the day was determined by the drivers fastest laps in the opener, with Palmer lining up on pole ahead of di Mauro and Newey. A good start saw the former Ginetta Junior racer hold the lead through the opening lap from di Mauro, with Newey slipping to fifth behind Jupp and Albert.
The front two quickly broke away from the pack behind, but despite di Mauro’s best efforts Palmer was able to pull away for a 4.6 second win. Jupp ran third for a large spell until a penultimate lap move at Montreal gave Albert the podium finish.
Jupp ended up fourth, with Newey a second further down the road in fifth. The remainder of the grid ran in formation for the whole race, Fonseca finishing up sixth ahead of Hoque, Urrutia and Bortoleto.
Day two’s action once again kicked off with a qualifying session, and for the second day running it was di Mauro who emerged quickest, this time over six tenths of a second ahead of Palmer in wet conditions.
While di Mauro got away from pole without penalty this time, a much faster getaway for Palmer saw the HHC Motorsport racer storm into the lead in the Norfolk rain. Palmer built an early lead, but it was cut short when the safety car came out to aid recovery of Urrutia’s stricken machine.
At the restart, Palmer was able to pull away by over a second a lap to take a comprehensive win, with a late mistake for di Mauro making his winning margin over fifteen seconds at the flag. The Brazilian still maintained second despite his error, with Fonseca a comfortable third.
Newey took fourth, while a ten second penalty for an out of position start demoted Jupp from fifth on the road to sixth behind Hoque. They were the only finishers, Albert joining his SWR-Caterham F1 team-mate Urrutia on the retirements while Bortoleto sat out the race.
Palmer’s fastest lap in race three gave him pole for the final race of the weekend, with di Mauro once again joining him on the front row. Palmer led away from pole again, however an error at the Brundle/Nelson complex gave di Mauro the advantage.
The Brazilian didn’t look back from there, stamping his authority on the race to take victory by almost six seconds. Fonseca held third early on, however he slipped back to fifth on lap three, with Albert storming through to complete the podium from seventh on the grid.
Jupp took fourth ahead of Fonseca and Newey, while Bortoleto returned to action well to fight in the top six early on. Sadly the Brazilian slipped back late on though, with a penultimate lap spin leaving him eighth behind Urrutia. Hoque meanwhile completed the finishers.
The three wins give Palmer a twelve point lead over di Mauro at the head of the Winter Championship heading into the final four races in two weeks time at Brands Hatch.
Provisional 2014 BRDC Formula 4 Winter Championship Standings (After Rd.4 of 8):
- Will Palmer – HHC Motorsport – 134pts
- Gaetano di Mauro – PetroBall Racing – 122pts
- Rodrigo Fonseca – Douglas Motorsport – 84pts
- Connor Jupp – Mectech Motorsport – 80pts
- Harri Newey – HHC Motorsport – 76pts
- Jordan Albert – SWR-Caterham F1 – 65pts
- Zubair Hoque – HHC Motorsport – 61pts
- Fernando Urrutia – SWR-Caterham F1 – 41pts
- Enzo Bortoleto – PetroBall Racing – 25pts