The Italian F4 Championship has once again seen a reduction in entries with the series losing seven drivers between the opening weekend of the year and the second round from Adria. At this round last year, the series boasted 32 entries despite the absence of four of the six championship contenders due to commitments elsewhere.
For the second year running, Adria will have its numbers cut largely to due to the main teams dropping drivers who have chosen to focus their efforts elsewhere.
The most notable of these is once again the Prema Powerteam who will run just two cars in the event as Juri Vips and Juan Manuel Correa pull out. Correa scored just a single point last time out and will likely focus on clinching the ADAC Formula 4 crown along with Vips, who had left Misano as the highest ranking Prema driver.
A similar situation will see all three Van Amersfoort Racing drivers absent for the event. Regulation and licensing issues prevented both Kami Laliberte and Felipe Drugovich from scoring points last round, as both drivers along with Louis Gachot will all focus on their German campaigns.
Elsewhere, Italian team Cram Motorsports have dropped both drivers, also failing to show up. While Leonard Hoogenboom runs a duel campaign in Germany, the move leaves Mariano Lavigna without a seat after only his second weekend in the series. Mauro Aurrichio pulled out after qualifying at Misano.
Oliver Soderstrom will also sit out the weekend having failed to score in the opening round. This is notable as his BWT Mucke Motorsport teammates; Sophia Floersch and Lirim Zendeli will be present despite also running joint campaigns.
The same has happened over at Prema, with Marcus Armstrong (who topped Practice 1 today) committing to the coming round in Adria, while Vips and Correa stepped down.
This, along with the reduction from 2016 suggests that the series simply isn’t appealing to many of the young drivers, choosing to prefer the German series over the Italian or not race F4 at all. Only Ferrari Driver Academy member Enzo Fittipaldi has committed more to Italian F4 than ADAC.
Whether any of these drivers return for the third round at Vallelunga is yet to be seen.
With costs rising in the higher stages of the Feeder Series ladder, it has been suggested that drivers do not want such a financial burden, choosing Touring cars and GT’s instead. Alternatively, the drop in numbers could be a result of the fallout from Mick Schumacher, who provided an increase in interest from outside media, heightening the appeal of the category.
Going into the weekend, one more driver will also join the field. Italian rookie Mickael Grosso will be racing with the newly formed Corbetta Competizioni.
Last round at Misano saw Sebastian Fernandez claim all three victories over the weekend, though testing today has shown that he could face stiff opposition from Armstrong and Lorenzo Colombo who topped the two practice sessions today. Fernandez meanwhile finished 0.421 seconds off the overall place, outside the top ten.
TCF will keep you up to date with a weekend report on Sunday night.