F4 British Championship

Oulton Park sets the scene for the return of British F4 amidst intense title fight

4 Mins read
James Hedley leads the way after taking three wins so far in 2021. (Credit: Jakob Ebery Photography)

After seeing six different winners and ten different podium finishers across the opening nine rounds of what has been an intense and frantic 2021 British F4 Championship, the exciting junior single seater circus arrives at Oulton Park with Fortec Motorsport’s James Hedley leading the title race by 20 points over impressive JHR Developments’ rookie Matthew Rees, with JHR team mate Mckenzy Cresswell leading the rookie standings and will be looking for his maiden victory this weekend to state his intentions on this year’s overall championship.

Hedley’s advantage has been gently eroded by Rees over the past couple rounds, with the BRDC Rising Star slowly losing points to Matthew Rees after the rookie scored a brace of wins at Snetterton last time out and even outscoring Hedley overall on a mixed condition weekend at Brands Hatch last month. But with both performing at a very high level so far this year, there’s no doubt that the title fight will further intensify this weekend.

Mckenzy Cresswell has been one of the standout performers so far in what is looking to be a promising 2021 for JHR Developments’ two young promising rookies. Whilst also being very consistent, Cresswell has also been fast in qualifying, eventually snapping team mate Matthew Rees’ early string of pole positions on top of four podium finishes and points in all races so far except one. He’ll be looking to really set his championship charge alight this weekend and take the fight to Hedley and Rees ahead of him.

Matthew Rees enters Oulton Park with a 20 point deficit to leader James Hedley, and will be looking to apply the pressure after a stellar rookie season so far. (Credit: Jakob Ebery Photography

Phinsys by Argenti new boy Matias Zagazeta has come on leaps and bounds in his second full season in British F4, with the young Peruvian taking his maiden victory at Brands Hatch last month, moving up to fourth in the overall standings. And even though he may be 52 points back at this early stage in the season, you’d be a fool to write off Zagazeta as we begin to approach the second half the season, especially as the Phinsys by Argenti squad appear to be finding their winning stride.

One driver that shot out of the blocks quickly but has been unable to replicate that form in later rounds is Swede, Joel Granfors. The Fortec Motorsport young promise set the title fight on course with a brace of second place finishes at the season opener at Thruxton, but has since not been able to spray the champagne in what has been a sometimes frustrating time for the reigning Formula Atlantic champion. The early title contender will be looking to get back on terms with his Fortec team mate and championship leader James Hedley at Oulton Park this weekend.

Abbi Pulling has had a similar season to Granfors, with the second season JHR Developments driver picking up two podiums last time out at Brands Hatch to firmly place her name in the hat for win and championship contention as the season goes on. It was a much needed weekend for the recently called up W Series racer, who will be looking to continue the much needed positive momentum this weekend.

The highest running Arden Motorsport driver in the championship after the opening nine races is the highly regarded Zak Taylor, who will be looking to add to his collection of wins after securing his maiden triumph at Brands Hatch last month, as well as continuing his run of podium finishes in reverse grid races, which is something the Gloucestershire racer has become somewhat of a specialist in so far in 2021.

Abbi Pulling’s brace of podiums at Brands Hatch will be just the tonic she needed to really kickstart her 2021 title fight. (Credit: Jakob Ebery Photography)

You’d be forgiven for thinking that rookie Oliver Gray was the third highest performing Fortec runner in the championship after the opening rounds of the season, and technically speaking that would be true based on championship position. But the young Brit has shown massive pace at every race so far, and after five rookie podiums in 2021 to date, it’s safe to say that he’ll be looking to further state his cause of intent at Oulton Park this weekend and throw his name in the hat for the overall win.

Joseph Loake and Kai Askey round out the top ten in points after the opening three race meetings, with JHR’s Loake looking to regain the form that gave him a victory in the mixed conditions at Thruxton back in May, and Carlin’s highest runner Askey will be looking to build on the momentum he gained after picking up a well deserved podium at Brands last time out.

Eleventh and twelfth in the standings belong to young Australian Marcos Flack and fellow rookie Thomas Ikin respectively, with Arden Motorsport’s Ikin taking another second place overall place at Brands Hatch to keep his name in the rookie cup conversation. Meanwhile, Phinsys by Argenti’s Flack will be looking to put a dire Brands Hatch weekend behind him and bounce back at Oulton Park.

Japan’s Dougie Bolger has been slowly chipping away at claiming a maiden podium in 2021, with the Carlin rookie ever improving and even pushing second season driver Abbi Pulling all the way to the line at Brands Hatch last month to narrowly miss out on podium honours. But it’s definitely fair to say that he will have every chance to taste the champagne when racing resumes in Cheshire this weekend.

The midfield battle is extremely tight thus far, with just 53 points separating fourteen drivers from Matias Zagazeta in fourth, down to Eduardo Coseteng in seventeenth. (Credit: Jakob Ebery Photography)

Coming off the back of a sensational winning British F3 weekend at Spa-Francorchamps this past weekend, Carlin’s Roman Bilinski will be looking to take that winning momentum into Oulton Park this weekend and kick start his British F4 campaign, especially after being considered one of the early season favourites for championship honours before we even arrived at Thruxton for the opener.

Georgi Dimitrov’s sole Richardson Racing entry has gone through the ultimate peaks and valleys of an upcoming racer, with the British-Bulgarian taking a sensational victory at Snetterton and then immediately retiring from all three races at Brands Hatch to bring himself and the team back down to earth. Racing is a cruel world sometimes, but Dimitrov will be looking for an immediate response this weekend.

Tasanapol Inthraphuvasak and Eduardo Coseteng have both had the pace to trouble the points paying positions so far in 2021, and will both be looking to get their season underway after a difficult opening few rounds, whereas late-season entries Aiden Neate and David Morales will be looking to further improve after both showing signs of pace and improvement for the Argenti and Arden teams respectively.

The final race of the weekend at 14:00 (BST) on Sunday (01 Aug) will be broadcast live on ITV4.

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British Formula 4 correspondent and occasional F1 reporter for The Checkered Flag.
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