After a long break, the Formula Renault Eurocup competitors got their season restarted as they ran two races in support of the Total 24 Hours of Spa, while the ADAC Formula 4 competitors were also in good company as they raced in support of the Formula 1 German Grand Prix.
Formula Renault Eurocup – Spa-Francorchamps
After a break of fifty-four days since the Eurocup racers took to the track at the Circuit Paul Ricard in France, they were finally back in action with two races at Spa-Francorchamps as they supported the blue-ribbon event of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup, the Total 24 Hours of Spa.
Oscar Piastri cut into Victor Martins’ lead in the Drivers’ Championship after beating the Frenchman to victory in race one, which took place on Friday around the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit.
Martins had put his MP Motorsport machine onto pole position and held the lead into the first turn, but the Renault Sport Academy racer found R-ace GP’s Piastri draft passed him heading down the Kemmel Straight and into Les Combes on the first lap.
The leading two had significant pace advantage over the rest of the field and despite a mid-race safety car intervention, caused when the car of Callan O’Keeffe, racing for M2 Competition in Belgium rather than the FA Racing by Drivex outfit he raced for in the opening four rounds, needed to be removed from Eau Rouge.
Piastri held onto the lead at the restart and went on to take his third victory of the season, his first since his double triumph at Silverstone back in May. Martins still held onto the championship lead, albeit by only two points from the Australian, by finishing second.
Sebastian Fernandez had started on the front row alongside Martins, but a stall left him down the order, but the Venezuelan (racing under a Spanish licence) drove superbly to take the final spot on the podium. The Arden driver overtook his team-mate Patrik Pasma for fourth before fighting MP Motorsport’s Lorenzo Colombo for third, overtaking the Italian late in the day.
Colombo held on for fourth ahead of Kush Maini of M2 Competition, who capitalised on a last lap mistake from Pasma to take fifth. Bhaitech’s Petr Ptácek took seventh ahead of R-ace GP’s Caio Collet, while Alexander Smolyar (R-ace GP) took ninth despite starting seventeenth, ahead of the final points scorer Xavier Lloveras of GRS, who went the other way from fifth on the grid to tenth.
“I wasn’t expecting Sebastián to get a slow start,” admitted Piastri. “I was able to take advantage and have a chance to use the draft to take the lead. I was able to get past on the outside and I never looked back.
“I was beginning to gradually pull away when the safety car came out. Restarts are always tricky, but I was able to keep Victor at bay to go on to take my third win of the season.”
JD Motorsport’s Leonardo Lorandi took pole position for Saturday’s second race of the weekend, but it was MP Motorsport’s Colombo who took the chequered flag in what was a red flag-shortened race.
Lorandi held the lead into turn one and was able to hold onto his advantage until lap four when Colombo, who had already worked his way ahead of both Federico Malvestiti (Bhaitech) for third and Martins for second, took his position at the front.
Colombo was able to pull away from the battle behind for the podium positions, with Martins losing places to Collet and Malvestiti as he attacked Lorandi for second. Lorandi would then lose a number of places and would ultimately only finish down in seventh.
With Collet in second, Malvestiti was forced to defend his podium position from race one winner Piastri, and eventually fell behind the Australian exiting Les Combes on what set to be the last lap. After the pass was completed, Malvestiti spun into the path of Martins and Smolyar, with the latter unable to avoid the Italian and rolling over his car.
Despite it being the last lap, the race was red flagged, and the race result taken after the twelfth lap, meaning Piastri’s move did not count for position, giving Malvestiti the final podium place despite his car being in a mess at Les Combes.
Piastri did take fourth ahead of Martins, while Smolyar was sixth having started down in twenty-first and having ended his race in that wild rollercoaster of a crash. Lorandi, Fernandes, Maini and O’Keeffe completed the points scorers after both Brad Benavides (FA Racing by Drivex) and Ptácek were penalised post-race for incidents having initially finished inside the top ten.
“I felt really good and I was determined to star on such a difficult circuit,” said Colombo. “I found good pace in qualifying, but it was more complicated yesterday. We did a lot of work on the car over night and the handling suited me better today.
“I got a bit too much wheelspin at the start, but I was able to overtake my rivals one by one to take the lead. At one point I saw Caio closing ground. I was a little concerned, but I was able to maintain the gap to take my third win in the last four races.
“I want to keep the momentum going and we can do it with such a hard-working team and team-mates pushing me forward.”
ADAC Formula 4 – Hockenheimring
With the eyes of the Formula 1 world looking on, the stars of the future took to the Hockenheimring track for two races, with two drivers already involved within Formula 1 young driver programmes taking the victories.
Dennis Hauger became the first two-time winner in 2019 as the Red Bull Junior survived a clash with his Van Amersfoort Racing team-mate Niklas Krütten as they fought for the lead.
Theo Pourchaire started from pole position but the US Racing CHRS driver was passed on the opening lap by Krütten, with the Frenchman soon passed by Hauger, who had made early gains from fifth on the grid.
Pourchaire briefly regained second as Hauger went off track at the hairpin, but it was not long before the Norwegian was back ahead and onto Krütten’s tail up front. Towards the end of the race, Hauger went to make a move around the outside of the German, only for Krütten’s left front wheel to touch the right rear wheel of his team-mate, which spun him into the barrier and into retirement.
The safety car was deployed to recover the stricken car of Krütten, and there was only one lap to go when the race resumed, but Hauger held on for the win, with Pourchaire securing second.
Behind the leading two, it was far from clear who would complete the podium, with Prema Powerteam’s Gianluca Petecof and US Racing CHRS’ Arthur Leclerc battling for position. It appeared Leclerc was on course for third, only for him to spin down to tenth as the Brazilian fought back, allowing Petecof to take the position.
SMP Racing-backed Russian Mikhael Belov took fourth for R-ace GP ahead of Jenzer Motorsport’s Giorgio Carrara and Van Amersfoort Racing’s Ido Cohen, while Prema’s Oliver Rasmussen, Van Amersfoort Racing’s Lucas Alecco Roy, Jenzer Motorsport’s Jonny Edgar, and the unfortunate Leclerc completed the top ten.
With neither Carrara nor Edgar eligible for points, Nico Göhler of Mücke Motorsport and Sebastian Estner of Van Amersfoort Racing completed the points scorers despite finishing eleventh and twelfth on the road.
“Going from fifth to first place is a perfect result,” said Hauger after Saturday’s race. “I am extremely happy. My pace was superb, and I cannot wait to get back in the cockpit tomorrow.
“That was great. The atmosphere here is truly legendary. It was a great honour for me.”
Leclerc started Sunday’s second race from pole position but lost the lead on the opening lap to race one winner Hauger, who was gunning for a second win of the weekend to aid his championship challenger.
However, the following time around, the brother of current Scuderia Ferrari racer Charles Leclerc was back in the lead, a position he would hold on until the chequered flag despite almost constant pressure from Hauger and two safety car periods.
A three-car collision at the back of the field between Göhler, Estner and Prema’s Alessandro Famularo caused the first safety car intervention on lap six, while the second was down to Belov spinning out into the gravel trap on lap nine.
Pourchaire took the final position on the podium to leave the Hockenheimring as the championship leader, while Petecof took fourth ahead of US Racing CHRS due, Roman Stanek and Alessandro Ghiretti.
Krütten took seventh to at least score some points across the weekend, while Carrara, Roy, and R-ace G’s Gregoire Saucy completed the top ten, while the final point went the way of Rasmussen.
“I had a great weekend,” said Leclerc, who was greeted by brother Charles in parc ferme post-race. “In free practice, the track was really dirty, which we didn’t expect. But in qualifying the balance was better and I was P1.
“The stall in Race 1 made it difficult to do much, but Race 2 was really good – even with too much wheelspin at the start. Being in the F1 paddock was a great experience and helped push our team because we all want to race in F1. Of course for me it was also special being where my brother was going to race.”