Hockenheim would be the weekend of two halfs for a number of the front-runners, with Lirim Zendeli the only one to collect a double podium, as the US Racing-CHRS driver extends his ADAC Formula 4 Championship lead to 46 points with two rounds to go.
As the event supported the Formula 1 Grand Prix many were keen to impress with the Van Amersfoort Racing drivers taking charge on the Saturday with a pole for Frederik Vesti and Liam Lawson. The pair finished 1-2 in the first race but with both failing to score on Sunday, Zendeli took the honours from Olli Caldwell.
With a fourth and third place, Enzo Fittipaldi was the only other front-runner who remained consistent for both races, as David Schumacher retook the lead of the Rookies’ Cup. It proved to be largest grid of the year, with 24 drivers entering.
Qualifying 1: Frederik Vesti – Van Amersfoort Racing
A wet and raining track would greet the drivers for first qualifying with a red flag quickly interrupting events. Enzo Fittipaldi had been leading at the time, but with the rain stopping and the track drying, many knew it would come down to a final lap, as Frederik Vesti, jumped from outside the top five to pole.
He wasn’t the only one, being joined by Leon Köhler after a surprising lap from the German. Charles Weerts maintained his pace in the latter stages to qualify third, ahead of Liam Lawson, who was wary of rival Lirim Zendeli in sixth, with the pair split by Olli Caldwell. Fittipaldi dropped to eleventh.
Qualifying 2: Liam Lawson – Van Amersfoort Racing
With the track starting to improve, the drivers switched to slick tyres, in the knowledge they’d be optimum after a few banker laps. Once again it was Enzo Fittipaldi dominating the early stages, but a late lap from Liam Lawson secured him the pole position, alongside Lirim Zendeli.
After a poor first session, rookie David Schumacher hit back with a third place grid slot from Frederik Vesti and Jack Doohan. The top six was rounded out Fittipaldi’s who looked the strongest on long-run pace.
Winner: Frederik Vesti – Van Amersfoort Racing
After sticking it on pole earlier in the day, Frederik Vesti was quick to prove his pace could be transferred into the dry, breaking away from teammate Liam Lawson on the opening lap with championship leader Lirim Zendeli leaping from sixth to third on the opening lap.
A safety car was called on the second lap as rookie points leader Niklas Krutten ran wide at turn one, sliding into the barrier. He would not be the only casualty though, with Olli Caldwell losing his front wing (and sixth place) after contact with David Schumacher.
Vesti though was wise on the restart, quickly building a small gap to Lawson, which held throughout the race for his first, overdue, win of the year. Lawson himself spent the race covering off the advances of Zendeli and Enzo Fittipaldi, but the four held ground with David Schumacher a lonely fifth.
The battle for sixth would interest fans all the way to flag as Gianluca Petecof jumped ahead of the struggling Federico Malvestiti, who clung onto seventh from Charles Weerts, Joey Alders and Lucas Alecco Roy.
Winner: Lirim Zendeli – US Racing-CHRS
The championship was set up for an intense affair as Liam Lawson lined up ahead of rival and points leader Lirim Zendeli. The German got the better start though, demoting Lawson by the first corner. He’d fight back, but in attempting to fend off David Schumacher ran wide into Mercedes, dropping back and pitting for damage.
After a safety car to clear Leon Koehler’s car, Zendeli dropped the hammer as Schumacher was dealing with damage from his Lawson contact. The son of Former-Grand Prix winner Ralf, put in a spectacular defensive display for two laps until he was called into the pits by the officials.
This left Zendeli free to take an easy victory as the Prema Powerteam drivers battled over second, with Olli Caldwell holding off the advances of Enzo Fittipaldi as the pair completed the podium. Meanwhile, Jack Doohan fell away in the closing laps, but held onto rookie victory from Gregoire Saucy, Dutch rookie Joey Alders and Gianluca Petecof.
The top eight was eventually rounded out by Charles Weerts. Behind them, Lawson’s miserable day continued after spinning Amaury Cordeel, while a last lap incident saw Lucas Alecco Roy spin Giorgio Carrara after the Argentine squeezed him off the track on the run up to turn two.
Championship Standings: Zendeli – 239; Lawson – 193; Fittipaldi – 165; Vesti – 146; Wishofer – 122; Caldwell – 113; Weerts – 108; Krütten – 63.