Junior Single Seater Race Weekend Round-up – 9-11 August 2019

by Paul Hensby

The Chequered Flag looks back at the ADAC Formula 4 weekend at Zandvoort, a track that will host Formula 1 again from 2020.  There were two new winners across the weekend, while in-between a Mercedes-Benz junior proved his worth.

ADAC Formula 4 – Zandvoort

Race One

Alessandro Famularo gambled superbly ahead of race one at Zandvoort, with the Italian taking dry weather tyres at the start after a rain shower pre-race had seen the majority of the field switch to the wet tyre option.

After an initial safety car start, Famularo, driving for Prema Powerteam, found himself propelled into the lead when drivers were forced to pit under green flag conditions, with his advantage at the front at one point being around the thirty-second mark.

Arthur Leclerc did his best to close that gap, with the US Racing-CHRS making quick gains on the Italian up front.  However, the gap disappeared completely when Van Amersfoort Racing team-mates Lucas Alleco Roy and Sebastian Estner collided at turn one to bring out the safety car, leaving the former stuck in the gravel trap and the latter in the pits with a broken rear wing.

Famularo held the lead at the restart and again at a second restart as the safety car was deployed again, with R-ace GP’s debutant Hadrian David crashing out, with Leclerc swarming all over the rear of his car but to no avail.

Théo Pourchaire shadowed the front two until the chequered flag to complete the podium for US Racing-CHRS, while Roman Staněk made it a trio of Sauber Junior drivers inside the top four in fourth.

The fourth US Racing-CHRS driver in the field, Alessandro Ghiretti, was involved in the battle at the front until he collided with Prema Powerteam driver Paul Aron, with the incident promoting Prema pair Gianluca Petecof and Oliver Rasmussen into fifth and sixth, although the latter was later handed a time penalty to relegate him to fourteenth.

R-ace GP duo Mikhael Belov and Gregoire Saucy ultimately were sixth and seventh, while the top ten was completed by Van Amersfoort Racing pair Niklas Krütten and Dennis Hauger, the two finishing just 0.060 seconds apart at the chequered flag, and by Mücke Motorsport’s Nico Göhler.

“I’m just mega happy and proud of the team,” said Famularo. “We did an awesome job during the race. The weekend has been very hard up until now.

“The two practice sessions and qualifying were very tough indeed, so I’m all the more delighted with my maiden victory in the ADAC Formula 4. This is a success we can build on.”

Alessandro Famularo took a gamble on starting on dry tyres and won race one – Credit: Gruppe C Photography

Race Two

Petecof started race two from pole position but found himself relegated to second at the start by Aron, with the Estonian going on to take his second victory of the season.

There was an early safety car intervention, caused when Leclerc crashed out, but Aron held his advantage at the front on the restart, while Petecof’s race was about to go from bad to worse.

The Brazilian slammed the door shut on Hauger as the Norwegian attacked for second, with the Van Amersfoort Racing driver spinning to the rear of the field as a result.  With second place looking secure, a drive-through penalty was handed to Petecof to drop him outside the points.

It still was a Prema Powerteam one-two, with Aron finishing 2.921 seconds clear of team-mate Rasmussen, while Pourchaire extended his advantage in the championship standings with his second consecutive third place finish, just ahead of his team-mate Ghiretti. 

The two US Racing-CHRS drivers put extensive pressure onto Rasmussen throughout the race but were unable to do anything about the Dane.

Belov and Saucy were fifth and sixth, well clear of Göhler, with the German holding on for seventh despite pressure from behind from Estner, Krütten and Mücke Motorsport’s Joshua Dürksen, who denied Petecof the final point by less than half a second. 

Stanek was found guilty of jumping the start and was handed a drive-through penalty that relegated him to fourteenth at the chequered flag, while Leclerc was handed a similar penalty for the same offence, although his crash nullified it.

“I’m mega happy about my second win of the season in the German series,” said Aron.  “I knew that overtaking would not be easy here, so I made sure to get away really well.

“I then quickly overtook Gianluca and asserted my lead.”

Paul Aron took his second win of 2019 in race two – Credit: Prema Powerteam

Race Three

Estner was on pole position for the final race of the weekend, courtesy of the reverse grid ruling, and the German showed just what he was made of by defending from start to finish to take his maiden win.

Van Amersfoort Racing’s Estner defended well from Saucy throughout, although the last lap saw Ghiretti challenge for the lead after the Italian made a pass on the R-ace GP driver.  The final gap between the top two was 0.332 seconds, with only 0.718 seconds separating first to third at the chequered flag.

Krütten missed out on the podium but made a late pass on Belov for fourth, although the Russian was able to repel a move by Hauger to hold onto fifth.  Pourchaire couldn’t make it a hat trick of podiums but was still able to further extend his championship advantage by finishing seventh, with Famularo, Rasmussen and David completing the top ten.

Roy had finished on the road in eighth but was handed a post-race time penalty for colliding with Van Amersfoort Racing’s Ido Cohen on the final lap, relegating him to thirteenth.  That, coupled with the face that David being a guest driver and unable to score points, Stanek was able to take the final point despite finishing eleventh.

Petecof’s nightmare weekend ended with a first lap retirement after a collision with team-mate and race two winner Aron.  It meant the Brazilian only had a fifth-place finish to show for his efforts as he fell further away in the Drivers’ Championship standings.

Another driver to crash out was Leclerc, who spun at the back chicane and was attempting to rejoin the race when he overcooked it and collided with R-ace GP’s László Tóth.

“Incredible! The weekend didn’t start all that well, did it?” said a surprised Estner after the final race of the weekend.  “So now, let’s see what we can achieve at the Nürburgring.”

Sebastian Estner took a surprise victory in race three – Credit: Gruppe C Photography

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