The EuroFormula Open championship’s new era got underway last weekend at the Circuit Paul Ricard in France, while the ADAC Formula 4 season also began at Oschersleben.
EuroFormula Open – Circuit Paul Ricard
The EuroFormula Open championship began in the south of France last weekend, the first event to run with the series’ updated regulations, particularly in the engine department. For the first time, the series has three engine manufacturers, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota joining Volkswagen, while twenty-one cars were entered for the opening round across eight teams.
Liam Lawson got his Red Bull Junior Team career off to a perfect start with victory in the opening race of the season-opening EuroFormula Open weekend at Paul Ricard, with the New Zealander giving Motopark a winning debut in the championship as well as engine suppliers Spiess.
Lukas Dunner had given Teo Martin Motorsport pole position and the young German had held the lead at the start, while Lawson jumped ahead of team-mate and fellow Red Bull Junior Yuki Tsunoda into second, but a safety car period to clear up an incident between Fortec Motorsport’s Cameron Das and RP Motorsport’s Artem Petrov enabled Lawson to hound Dunner for the lead.
Lawson made the move for the lead after the restart into turn one, with Tsunoda also finding a way ahead of Dunner, but the leading three were inseparable until the chequered flag. Lawson edged away for the win ahead of Tsunoda, with Dunner a mere 0.395 seconds back in third.
Double R Racing, another team debuting in the championship in 2019, saw Linus Lundqvist finish fourth despite starting down in tenth, with Motopark’s Marino Sato fifth. Carlin’ Teppei Natori finished on his countryman’s tail in sixth ahead of Julian Hanses, while Teo Martin Motorsport’s Guilherme Samaia, Double R Racing’s Jack Doohan, and Carlin’s Billy Monger completed the points scorers.
As well as the incident that eliminated Das and Petrov, RP Motorsport’s Javier Gonzalez was an early retiree with a mechanical issue, while a clash between Carlin’s Christian Hahn and Teo Martin Motorsport’s Aldo Festante saw both retire.
“I was very comfortable in the car straight away,” said race winner Lawson. “The feeling was there, really it’s just another car, the team did a great job with it and I’d done as much prep as I could, looking at the data, understanding it.
“So we were relatively quick from Thursday. All credit to the Motopark guys. We made minor changes but it worked from the beginning. We had the pace for qualifying but as a team we didn’t have the strategy quite right in Q1 so I was third on the grid.
“I got a good start and the car was just great. When I got in front after the safety car I really just had to keep putting in the laps.”
Sunday’s second race saw Motopark once again take the spoils, but this time it would be Japanese racer Sato who took his maiden win, helped by a clash on the run down to turn one on lap one between Lawson and Tsunoda!
Lawson had secured pole position for Sunday’s event but made a sluggish start, allowing Sato to take the lead and Tsunoda to draw alongside him. As the two ran side by side, they clashed, with both drivers lucky to continue. It also allowed Samaia to put his Teo Martin Motorsport machine into second.
Lawson managed, eventually, to find a way back ahead of Samaia to run second but was too far behind Sato to make any impact, with the Japanese racer clinching the win by 3.530 seconds.
Stewards investigated the incident at the start and deemed Lawson responsible, handing him a three-second time penalty, which was enough to promote Samaia back up to second for his best EuroFormula Open result so far, while Dunner was also close enough to be able to inherit third, with Lawson dropping down to fourth and off the podium.
Lundqvist took fifth after another strong drive ahead of Tsunoda, while Carlin duo Hahn and Natori took seventh and eighth ahead of Doohan and Hanses, the last of the points scorers.
The results give Lawson the early lead in the championship on thirty-eight points, three ahead of Sato and seven ahead of Dunner. Lawson also has maximum points in the rookie classification on twenty points, six ahead of Lundqvist and Tsunoda.
ADAC Formula 4 – Oschersleben
There were three different winners across the three races in Oschersleben, with Gianluca Petecof, Niklas Krütten and Roman Staněk all claiming a victory each as the ADAC Formula 4 championship got underway in Germany.
Petacof, a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy racing for Prema Powerteam, marched to an impressive, record-breaking victory in race one, winning by a margin of 14.132 seconds, the biggest winning margin in ADAC Formula 4 history.
The sixteen-year-old had taken pole position and comfortably lead the field throughout the race despite conditions being a little wet to begin with, while fifteen-year-old Staněk took second for US Racing CHRS, ahead of Dennis Hauger, a sixteen-year-old charger from Van Amersfoort Racing, who had started down in eleventh.
“I feel great! The race went superbly well as far as we’re concerned,” said Petecof. “The start was a bit dodgy, but everything went according to plan after that.
“The car was great, and the team did a terrific job.”
Krütten took fourth for Van Amersfoort Racing despite running second in the early laps, with the German finishing ahead of Theo Pourchaire of US Racing CHRS, while Estonian Paul Aron finished sixth ahead of Prema Powerteam team-mate Alessandro Famularo. Ido Cohen of Van Amersfoort Racing, Joshua Dürksen of ADAC Berlin-Brandenburg e.V. and Alessandro Ghiretti of US Racing CHRS completed the points scorers.
Race two began behind the safety car after early morning rain, and when the green flag fell, pole sitter Hauger went off track to give Petecof the lead. However, the Brazilian suffered with extreme tyre degradation on his wet tyres and fell behind Krütten, before he and US Racing CHRS’ Arthur Leclerc, gambled on pitting for slick tyres behind the safety car.
Both Petacof and Leclerc were able to use their slick tyres to good use, picking off driver after driver, but the former found his race over after contact with team-mate Aron, while the latter attacked for the lead.
Unfortunately, Leclerc ran off track and spun, allowing Krütten to get away again to claim the victory and Pourchaire to finish second, but the Monegasque racer was able to hold onto third for his first podium of the season.
“The semi-dry conditions gave us our chance,” said Krütten after the race. “I gave the team the right instructions and they did a great job.”
Aron survived the contact with Petecof to claim fourth ahead of Dürksen, while Grégoire Saucy of R-ace GP claimed sixth ahead of Ghiretti, Staněk, Sebastian Estner of Van Amersfoort Racing, and Famularo.
Conditions were much improved for race three, and Staněk used them to his benefit, jumping away from pole position to claim the victory from Dürksen, who came out on top of a good battle with Ghiretti.
Staněk was in a class of his own to win by a comfortable margin, with the victory pushing the Czech driver to the top of the championship leaving Oschersleben, but the battle behind was far more intense between the Paraguayan Dürksen and Italian Ghiretti, which the former eventually came out on top of.
“It went brilliantly well right from the start, so I have reason to feel happy and satisfied,” said Staněk. “But this was my first win, so I now have to continue in the same vein, go flat out and push. I just focused on my race, not worrying about what the others were doing.
“I’m looking forward to the Red Bull Ring and the challenges ahead. This weekend definitely makes me want more of the same.”
Leclerc finished fourth ahead of Prema Powerteam’s Oliver Rasmussen, with Saucy sixth for the second race in a row ahead of Aron, Krütten, Estner and Pourchaire, who couldn’t follow up his race two podium with another top three result.
A battle between Petecof and Hauger ended badly for both drivers, the former earning a drive-through penalty for causing a collision between the two, while the latter dropped outside the points to fifteenth.