Junior Single Seater Race Weekend Round-up – 4-6 October 2019

by Paul Hensby

Eurocup Formula Renault – Hockenheimring

Race One

Victor Martins improved his chances of taking the 2019 Formula Renault Eurocup title by claiming his third consecutive victory and fifth of the season to close the gap on Oscar Piastri.

Piastri initially jumped Martins at the start but both found themselves behind JD Motorsport’s Ugo de Wilde, before the Belgian began to fade.

Martins took over at the front of the field, the MP Motorsport driver edging out his title rival from R-ace GP by 3.099 seconds, while Caio Collet clinched the rookie championship crown by ending third overall, also racing for R-ace GP.

Having led early on, de Wilde could only finish fourth and his only visit to the podium in 2019 remains his race win in the very first race of the season.  He currently sits seventh in the standings with only the Yas Marina finale to come.

De Wilde was forced to defend his position from R-ace GP’s Gregoire Saucy and Arden Motorsport’s Sebastian Fernandez over the closing laps but was able to hold on for fourth, while Kush Maini gave M2 Competition seventh place ahead of Arden’s Patrik Pasma.

Another Arden driver, Frank Bird, ended the day in ninth, while the points were rounded out by Bhaitech’s Petr Ptácek, who finished just ahead of team-mate Federico Malvestiti and GRS driver Xavier Lloveras.

“This was the hardest race of the year!” said Martins.  “I got a poor start and found myself behind Oscar at turn one, but I got a better exit out of turn two.

“I went to the inside, but I locked up the front tyres and we made light contact. My pass for the win wasn’t really voluntary. I just blocked the rear tyres and I would have hit Ugo and Oscar if I didn’t finish the move. Once I was ahead, I just had to manage my lead until the finish.

“Tomorrow, we will try to repeat our performance in qualifying. The conditions should again be wet, so it will be up to me and I will try not to put too much pressure on myself. The key will be to focus on my pace while avoiding mistakes.”

Victor Martins took his third consecutive win in race one – Credit: Clement Luck / DPPI

Race Two

Alexander Smolyar won a very wet second race of the weekend at the Hockenheimring, but it was not enough for the Russian to stay in contention for the title.

The race began behind the safety car due to the conditions, with Martins leading the way, and it was back on track again after just a handful of laps with track conditions still difficult.  When the race did get underway, Smolyar made the decisive move on Martins for the lead, a position he would not lose.

It appeared Martins would move into the championship lead as he held onto second, but a clash with Collet saw them both spin, promoting Piastri up into second, enabling the Australian to extend his advantage at the top of the standings to thirteen and a half points.

Despite the spin, Collet was able to finish on the podium in third ahead of an impressive Maini, while Martins ended fifth ahead of MP Motorsport’s Lorenzo Colombo (who survived a trip through a gravel trap), Malvestiti, MP Motorsport’s Amaury Cordeel, Ptácek and Pasma.

“I am really pleased with this win, I’ve been waiting for it since Monaco,” said Smolyar.  “The tricky conditions made it a difficult race, but it makes me prouder to have come out as the winner.

“When Victor Martins was in the lead, I noticed that he was braking quite early at the hairpin. My objective was to stay close to him before this corner, which was my best opportunity. I went for it, but I didn’t manage to do it without contact, but that’s racing sometimes!

“Now that I am no longer in contention for the title, I will be able to take a few more risks and I can’t wait to see what Abu Dhabi has in store for me.”

The results in Germany ensured R-ace GP became the 2019 Teams’ Champions, and Thibaut de Mérindol was delighted to clinch the crown with a round to spare.

“We are very happy to wrap up the title and confirm with a new Formula Renault car and totally different tyres!” said de Mérindol.  “We all started from scratch in all areas and all of the teams had highs and lows during the year.

“We relied on our strong group of people, mechanics and engineers in the team, our work methods, but also on the best drivers. This allowed us to build up step by step even though we can still improve as I am convinced that we are still far from our potential.

“This will take time, but I would like to congratulate them all for this season… And I trust Oscar to do the job in three weeks!”

Alexander Smolyar took victory in a wet race two – Credit: Clement Luck / DPPI

Formula Regional European Championship – Mugello

Race One

Frederik Vesti began the weekend know he could clinch the championship should results go his way, and he got off to the best possible start by dominating race one at Mugello.

Having taken pole position, the Prema Powerteam driver led from start to finish to clinch his eleventh victory of a hugely impressive season, while the main battle was who would finish second.

US Racing’s David Schumacher ultimately claimed the position after beating off the change of Prema Powerteam’s Enzo Fittipaldi, despite the German losing out at the start to his Brazilian rival.  Ultimately, Fittipaldi slipped off the podium as Jake Hughes, making a one-off appearance with KIC Motorsport, made a move for third.

Igor Fraga, twice a winner in 2019 with DR Formula, ended the race in fifth ahead of Van Amersfoort Racing’s Sophia Flörsch, while another series debutant, Lirim Zendeli, took seventh for US Racing ahead of Daniel Ticktum (Van Amersfoort Racing), Olli Caldwell (Prema Powerteam) and Raul Guzman (DR Formula).

Frederik Vesti took victory in race one in Mugello – Credit: ACI Sport

Race Two

Schumacher had secured pole position for race two but immediately saw his race compromised as a turbo problem saw his mechanics remain on the grid for too long.  This saw him receive a drive-through penalty for his troubles, but a slow start had seen him fall to fifth.

Vesti had taken over at the front and was untroubled until the chequered flag, while Zendeli made the most of his chance to secure second, coming out on top of a battle that initially saw Fraga hold onto the place.  Unfortunately, for Fraga, he would fall to fifth for a second consecutive race as Hughes and Fittipaldi both found their way ahead to finish third and fourth respectively.

Ticktum was the best of the Van Amersfoort Racing drivers in sixth, while Matteo Nannini secured his first points of the weekend for Scuderia DF Corse by Corbetta in seventh.  Flörsch took eighth ahead of KIC Motorsport’s Konsta Lappalainen, with Technorace’s Tom Beckhauser completing the points scorers in tenth.

Having battled with Fraga and Zendeli, Schumacher’s drive-through penalty saw him fall out of points contention, and the German was ultimately retired from the race by his team with a lap remaining.

Frederik Vesti took another win in race two – Credit: ACI Sport

Race Three

Vesti went into final race of the weekend knowing he needed just one point to secure him the title, and he allowed himself to finish off the podium for only the fourth time in 2019 in fourth.

Schumacher again took pole position but unlike in race two, he avoided any pre-race drama and was able to maintain his position at the front at the start, pulling out more than six seconds on the chasing pack to win for the fourth time this year.

For the second consecutive race, Zendeli claimed second, giving US Racing a one-two finish, while Hughes passed Vesti for third to end the weekend with a hat-trick of podium finishes.  Fraga again finished, the third time in as many races the Brazilian finished in that position.

Fittipaldi could only finish sixth as he saw his tiny chance of claiming the title disappear, ahead of Ticktum and Guzman, while Flörsch and an under-par Caldwell completed the points scorers.

“I’m really happy. Winning the championship has been a goal all season but we needed to work very hard to achieve it,” said Vesti.  “I was a newcomer at Prema, in a new series and with a new car.

“I had to learn many things and it wasn’t easy but I, my engineer and the whole team worked so hard to stay focused and improve step by step. In the end, that’s what you need to win a championship. I’m very proud of the work we have done together.”

David Schumacher (centre) took victory in race three – Credit: ACI Sport

Italian Formula 4 – Mugello

Race One

Estonian racer Paul Aron secured his second victory of 2019 after capitalising on a collision between championship rivals Dennis Hauger and Gianluca Petecof at Mugello.

Hauger, racing for Van Amersfoort Racing and part of the Red Bull Junior Team, took pole position, with Petecof, racing for Prema Powerteam and part of the Ferrari Driver Academy, jumped into second ahead of team-mate Aron at the start.

A safety car was needed to recover the stranded car of Filip Urgan from the gravel trap, closing up the pack, and on the restart, Petecof attacked Hauger for the lead.  Unfortunately, the two clashed, with Hauger suffering a spin and Petecof losing ground to both Aron and Antonelli Motorsport’s Lorenzo Ferrari, who was having his best outing of the season to date.

The safety car was needed again late in the race when Joshua Dürksen ended up in the gravel trap, and the race ended with it still on track, giving Aron the win and Ferrari his first podium of the year.

Unfortunately, Petecof was handed a ten-second penalty for his part in the Hauger incident that relegated him from third to twenty-third, promoting Red Bull Junior Jonny Edgar to third, the Jenzer Motorsport driver finishing just ahead of Prema Powerteam’s Oliver Rasmussen.

Bhaitech’s Mikhael Belov took fifth ahead of Van Amersfoort Racing’s Ido Cohen, while US Racing’s Roman Stanek, Prema Powerteam’s Alessandro Famularo, Mücke Motorsport’s William Alatalo and Jenzer Motorsport’s Axel Gnos completed the top ten.  Hauger just missed out on points in eleventh.

Paul Aron was victorious in race one – Credit: ACI Sport

Race Two

If race one was frustrating for Hauger, race two was the complete opposite as he opened up a seventy-point gap at the head of the championship with a lights-to-flag victory.

The Norwegian opened up a gap early on closest rival Stanek, and despite a safety car period to clear the stranded car of Lucas Alecco Roy from the gravel trap, Hauger was untroubled until the chequered flag, winning by almost four seconds.

Two incidents across the final couple of laps couldn’t deny Hauger, with Amna Al Qubaisi retiring and Nicola Marinangeli hitting the wall, with the Norwegian tantalisingly close to clinching the title with a round to spare.

Stanek held on for second ahead of Van Amersfoort Racing’s Cohen, who was forced to defend well from race one winner Aron towards the end of the race.  The two switched places twice before Cohen claimed his third podium finish of the season, his first since the opening race at Imola.

Dürksen recovered from his race one retirement to place fifth, while Petecof was a disappointing sixth ahead of Alatalo, Edgar, Belov and Rasmussen.

Dennis Hauger took victory in race two – Credit: ACI Sport

Race Three

Hauger took another lights to flag victory in race three, and in doing so he became the 2019 Italian Formula 4 champion with a round and three races to spare.  It was total domination by the Norwegian driver, who ended up more than 9.6 seconds clear of the rest of the field.

Hauger held onto the lead at the start and proceeded to pull away from the chasing pack, with the battle for second between Aron and Dürksen enabling the Van Amersfoort Racing driver to edge clear.

Aron eventually found his way ahead of Dürksen to claim second but he had no answer to Hauger’s pace, but Petecof could not follow his team-mate passed the Mücke Motorsport driver, his fourth place at the chequered flag ensuring he dropped out of the championship hunt.

Belov claimed fifth ahead of Rasmussen, with Stanek ending the weekend with a seventh-place finish ahead of Alatalo, Ferrari and Edgar.

“For sure it’s been a good weekend,” said Hauger. “We came here to get the championship and we were in good shape pretty much from the start. The guys did a great job with the car and I kept working on the driving so we got the triple pole.

“In the first race I got spun around by someone who was out of control, that happens.  We won Race 2 and 3 though and that was enough for the championship. 

“I can relax a bit going into Monza and enjoy myself but I am still going there to pick up some good points as we want to win the team championship. That’s the very least I can do for the Van Amersfoort guys for the car they have given me this year.”

Dennis Hauger is your 2019 Italian Formula 4 champion – Credit: ACI Sport

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