Frederik Vesti was undeniably the star of the inaugural Formula Regional European Championship season in 2019, with the Prema Powerteam driver securing thirteen victories on his way to the title.
The Dane had been set to race for Van Amersfoort Racing in the Formula European Masters championship in 2019, but the cancellation of that series before it began saw Vesti make the switch to Prema in FREC, and the partnership duly delivered.
Thirteen wins, seven further podium results, ten pole positions and nine fastest laps highlighted just how strong a season the seventeen-year-old had, particularly when all eyes were on his team-mate and Ferrari Driver Academy starlet Enzo Fittipaldi at the start of the season.
Fittipaldi would only take two victories, while the third Prema driver, Olli Caldwell, would only take one victory, although a second was taken away from him because of a disqualification. Of course, the seaso was not all about Prema, but 2019 ended up being all about Frederik Vesti.
Vesti Begins 2019 with Victory as Prema Start Year Strongly
The opening weekend at the Circuit Paul Ricard in France saw Vesti win twice, either side of a victory for his Prema team-mate Fittipaldi (Caldwell initially led a Prema 1-2-3 but was disqualified post-race), and the Dane would to go on to win at least one win on each race weekend of the campaign. He would also score points in every round he competed in.
David Schumacher took the first non-Prema win in the opening race at Vallelunga Circuit for US Racing before Vesti took the race two honours. Heavy rain saw race three postponed and rescheduled as a fourth race at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari (Imola).
At the Hungaroring, Vesti was unstoppable, winning all three races, the last coming despite suffering a suspension failure on the final lap. Despite the issue, he was able to hold on ahead of team-mate Caldwell, while Prema drivers filled all three places on the podium in each of the three races, Fittipaldi taking two seconds and third and Caldwell the reverse.
Two good recovery drivers from Vesti saw him win the opening two races at the Red Bull Ring to make it five in a row for the young Dane, but he and Prema were denied in race three, with gamer-turned-racer Igor Fraga taking his maiden victory for DR Formula RP Motorsport.
Fraga would win again in the opening race of the Imola weekend ahead of Caldwell and Vesti, before Vesti won again in race two. Race three went the way of Fittipaldi for his second and final victory of 2019, while Caldwell won race four for his only win of the campaign.
Race four had seen Isac Blomqvist starting on pole position thanks to having earned top spot in Qualifying at Vallelunga earlier in the year but the KIC Motorsport driver could not convert that into a win, falling behind Caldwell into second. It would also be the Finnish driver’s final appearance of the year.
Schumacher Takes Double Win in Barcelona
Vesti took his tenth victory of the year in race one at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya ahead of series debutant and former Red Bull Junior driver Dan Ticktum, who was racing for Van Amersfoort Racing, while Schumacher completed the podium. Schumacher would then take race two honours, holding off a charging Fittipaldi, with Vesti standing on the third step of the podium.
Schumacher would lead Ticktum home in race three with Fittipaldi finishing third, while Vesti’s points-scoring run was threatened as he was spun around late in the day by Matteo Nannini, but the Dane recovered sufficiently to secure one point in tenth.
Vesti returned to winning ways at the Mugello Circuit, taking victory in races one and two, while Schumacher took the win in race three. Debutants starred at the Italian circuit, with Jake Hughes taking a hat-trick of third places for KIC Motorsport, and Lirim Zendeli taking a pair of second places in races two and three for US Racing.
The final race weekend of the season was at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, and Fraga took an impressive hat trick of pole positions, the first two of which he was able to convert into race wins. Perhaps fittingly, Vesti concluded his championship winning campaign with win number thirteen in race three, with Fittipaldi and Fraga rounding out the podium.
Vesti Dominant, Prema Take Teams Title
Vesti ended the year with four hundred and sixty-seven points, one hundred and thirty-one clear of team-mate Fittipaldi, while Fraga ended third in the championship ahead of Schumacher and Caldwell.
“We have been really strong this year in qualifying and the races and we won 13 of them which is a great accomplishment,” said Vesti at the end of the season.
“I want to thank Prema for always being very consistent and always delivering a very fast car for me. I also want to thank my sponsors as I wouldn’t be here without them.”
Outside the top five, there was some good performances though some inconsistency from DR Formula’s Raul Guzman, the Mexican being forced to wait until the final round of the season to stand on the podium. He would have expected before the campaign began to use his single seater experience to good use but he found himself outperformed all year by his less experienced team-mate Fraga.
Much like champion Vesti, Sophia Flörsch scored points in every race, but the Van Amersfoort Racing driver could not finish higher than fourth, while Marcos Siebert ran four rounds with US Racing, securing one podium finish at Vallelunga before departing the team after Imola.
Ticktum, who only raced in Barcelona and Mugello, ended ninth in the standings, with Blomqvist rounding out the top ten ahead of his KIC Motorsport team-mate Konsta Lappalainen.
In the Teams’ Championship, Prema Powerteam were unstoppable, securing sixteen of the twenty-four victories, scoring eight hundred and seventy points compared to DR Formula’s four hundred and eighty.