The Vallelunga circuit in Italy took centre stage as the second round of the 2019 Formula Regional European Championship took place last weekend, supported by the opening weekend of the Italian Formula 4 series.
Formula Regional European Championship – Vallelunga
The Italian Vallelunga circuit played host to the second weekend of the Formula Regional European Championship, and it saw David Schumacher claim his first win of the year and Frederik Vesti his third, while the final race of the weekend was cancelled due to the weather.
After just ten cars competed in the season-opener at the Circuit Paul Ricard last month, the grid expanded to fourteen cars for round two, with GP3 Series refugees Marcos Siebert and Joey Mawson joining US Racing and Van Amersfoort Racing respectively, with Alexandre Bardinon racing for Mas du Clos Racing Team and Matteo Nannini for Scuderia DF Corse by Corbetta.
Prema Powerteam had dominated in Paul Ricard but Schumacher was on pole position for race one for US Racing, although Isaac Blomqvist had set the fastest time in Qualifying only for the KIC Motorsport driver to take a penalty for a practice incident.
Schumacher retained the lead at the start from Prema’s Enzo Fittipaldi, and despite close attention throughout the race from the Brazilian, it was the German son of Ralf Schumacher who claimed the first non-Prema win of the season.
Series debutant Siebert was unable to keep up with the leading duo but still did enough to secure the final spot on the podium, 7.182 seconds behind Schumacher, but ahead of the battle for fourth that ultimately went the way of his fellow debutant Mawson.
Mawson was embroiled in a near race long battle with Vesti, who tried everything he could to find a way passed but to no avail, the Dane finishing just half a second behind the Australian, while DR Formula by RP Motorsport’s Raul Guzman claimed sixth despite losing a part of his bodywork early on.
The second DR Formula car of Igor Fraga was seventh ahead of Prema’s Olli Caldwell, while Sophia Flörsch of Van Amersfoort Racing and Scuderia DF Corse by Corbetta’s Nannini completed the top ten. Nannini, however, is not eligible to score points until he turns sixteen in July, so Blomqvist took the final point.
Blomqvist was able to take his spot at the front of the grid for race two, however the race was to be held in the wet, and it began behind the safety car for two laps.
Fittipaldi put early pressure on the Finn but found himself passed by team-mate Vesti, albeit briefly. The resistance up front from Blomqvist was ultimately broken by the Brazilian, while the Dane was able to follow his team-mate through into second.
Ultimately the battle for the win was between the team-mates, and Vesti managed to get the better of Fittipaldi as the Brazilian struggled with overheating tyres on a drying track. It could have been worse for him as he found himself under pressure from the third Prema of Caldwell, with the duo crossing the line just three-tenths of a second apart.
Blomqvist’s early potential disappeared as he fell to sixth late in the day, with both Mawson and Flörsch finding their way ahead, while race one winner Schumacher could only manage seventh ahead of Fraga, Guzman and Nannini. KIC Motorsport’s Konsta Lappalainen claimed the final point despite finishing eleventh thanks to Nannini’s ineligibility.
Despite heavy rain, officials did attempt to get the race underway behind the safety car but it was red flagged after just one circuit, and despite laps by the safety car to check on conditions, it was decided that race three would be cancelled.
Blomqvist had been set to start from pole position once more but now officials are looking into the potential of adding a fourth race to another event later in the season to make up for the disappointment in Vallelunga.
The championship now has two months off before the series regroups at the Hungaroring across the first weekend of July, with Vesti six points clear in the championship ahead of Fittipaldi, with Schumacher well adrift in third.
Italian Formula 4 – Vallelunga
Gianluca Petecof, a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy, took two of the three victories available at Vallelunga, while in between the win went the way of Paraguayan racer Joshua Dürksen, although only after a penalty for on-track winner Roman Staněk.
Prema Powerteam’s Petacof claimed the opening win despite two interruptions by the safety car and a race-ending red flag, with the Brazilian able to use the breaks in green flag running to keep ahead of Russian racer Mikhael Belov of Bhaitech.
Belov had taken second from Staněk at the start and was hounding Petacof for the lead on the opening lap, only for the first safety car to be deployed after an incident involving Dürksen, Ido Cohen and Ivan Berets, while Lucas Alecco Roy had an incident of his own to beach his car in the gravel trap.
Just twelve minutes remained of the race when the green flag fell, but tyre choice was now varied after rain caused a number of drivers towards the rear of the field gamble on switching to wets, but the racing was only going for three more minutes before the safety car was out again after another incident, this time involving Fabio Venditti and Laszlo Toth.
Racing would not resume, the red flag flying with just a minute remaining, allowing Petacof to take the win ahead of Belov, while Alessandro Famularo competed the podium for Prema ahead of Sauber Junior Team member Staněk, racing for US Racing.
Paul Aron and Oliver Rasmussen put their Prema cars into fifth and sixth, the latter after coming out on top of a battle in the brief green flag running with Jenzer Motorsport’s Jonny Edgar, while the top ten was rounded out by Nicola Mariangeli of Bhaitech, Niklas Krutten of Van Amersfoort Racing, and Gregoire Saucy of R-ace GP.
Staněk finished race two at the head of the field after a final lap pass on Petacof, only for the Czech racer to lose the win after being one of six drivers to be handed ten-second penalties for overtaking under the safety car.
This promoted Dürksen, who had finished third on the road, to the victory after Petacof was handed the same penalty, with the Paraguayan giving Mücke Motorsport their first win of 2019 as a result ahead of Van Amersfoort Racing’s Cohen and Bhaitech’s Belov.
Staněk fell the fourth in the final result ahead of Petacof, who had made a good start to jump from fourth on the grid to lead on lap one. The Brazilian looked on course for the win only to be denied first by Staněk and then by the penalty.
Staněk had made a move on Cohen for second and then on Petacof just a few corners from the end, but ultimately a move by Dürksen on Cohen gave him the victory ahead of the Israeli racer.
Saucy, who had been set to start from second of the grid, was unable to take to the grid, and despite a safety car start, caused by the wet weather, it was not long until the safety car was needed again when Erwin Zanotti span into the gravel only for Francesco Simonazzi to collide with his car, ending both of their races on the spot.
Behind the leading five, Mücke Motorsport’s William Alatalo claimed sixth ahead of Bhaitech’s Umberto Laganella, with Krutten, Lorenzo Ferrari (Antonelli Motorsport) and Dennis Hauger (Van Amersfoort Racing) completing the top ten.
Hauger had finished eighth but was another driver to earn himself a penalty, as was Rasmussen of Prema, who had finished tenth but fell to fourteenth in the final result.
Petacof claimed his second win of the weekend in Sunday’s third race, with the race starting once more behind the safety car due to the track conditions, with pole position being held, somewhat surprisingly, by Roy of Van Amersfoort Racing.
Roy kept the lead when the green flag fell, with Petacof quickly dispatching Cohen for second, while Aron jumped to fourth on the first racing lap ahead of Berets. It wasn’t long however before the safety car was out again as the Red Bull-backed Edgar had spun his Jenzer Motorsport car onto a kerb and beached himself.
Aron’s race was over after contact with Belov as they battled for position, and the safety car was deployed once more as cars were recovered from the side of the track, with a few other drivers lower down the field also finding themselves stranded after spins.
The safety car remained on track until there was just one lap remaining, with Roy leading Petacof and Belov. Petacof maintained second from Belov heading into the turn seven hairpin after the Russian was pinched between the Brazilian and the wall.
Luckily he avoided the wall but span out of contention for the points, while Petacof attacked long-time leader Roy into turn eleven, with the German being forced to run two wheels off track after a snap of oversteer from the Brazilian pushed him wide. However, that move enabled the Brazilian to claim his second win of the weekend ahead of Roy, while Dürksen claimed the final spot on the podium having started twelfth.
Berets took fourth for DRZ Benelli ahead of Saucy, Staněk and Rasmussen, with Giorgio Carrera eighth for Jenzer Motorsport ahead of the Antonelli Motorsport duo of Andrea Rosso and Ferrari.
Drivers now have a week to regroup for the second round of the season, which will take place at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli later this month.