F4 British Championship

Drama awaits British F4 rising stars with racing return at Knockhill this weekend

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Championship leader Hedley arrives at Knockhill with 24-point lead over chief rival Matthew Rees. (Credit: Jakob Ebery Photography)

As we head into what is arguably the most loved and revered circuit on the British F4 calendar in Knockhill, it’s fair to say that the race for the 2021 championship is becoming more and more hotly contested, with no less than seven drivers tasting the winner’s champagne and even more impressively – two thirds of the grid finishing on the rostrum after the opening four race meetings so far.

None of this should be a surprise with the strength in depth of the 2021 grid, so that’s why we can expect another barnstorming event this weekend at the premier Scottish venue in Fife, with championship leader James Hedley looking to solidify his title advantage at a track he and Fortec Motorsport historically runs well at it.

The general talk of the paddock is that Hedley is enjoying the most success, with the second year driver enjoying a 24-point lead after taking four victories, but it’s no secret that rookie Matthew Rees is taking many headlines himself with his immense consistency as well as the extra points gained in the reverse grid races, and let’s not forget the mesmerising string of pole positions the JHR Developments driver had at the beginning of the season.

Fortec Motorsport come to Scotland with strong form at the rollercoaster-like circuit (Credit: Jakob Ebery Photography)

Another impressive rookie has been Mckenzy Cresswell, now sitting third in the championship. As well as sitting second in the rookie cup standings, Cresswell will be looking to fight back after his rollercoaster weekend in Oulton Park last time out, where he secured a race victory amongst a tough qualifying weekend fighting through the field for the most part.

The driver that had the biggest championship gain at Oulton Park was another JHR driver – Joseph Loake. The Thruxton race three winner added another winner’s trophy to his tally in Cheshire, and gained five places in the championship from ninth to fourth, firmly adding his name into the conversation for honours as we rapidly approach the half way mark in this enthralling season.

Mathias Zagazeta continues to improve and impress in the Peruvian’s second season driving for new team Phinsys by Argenti. A win at Brands Hatch and promising pace at Oulton Park on the Friday especially is just the tonic that he will need to continue his surge in performance this weekend at Knockhill.

The battle in the upper midfield between Joel Granfors, Abbi Pulling and Oliver Gray over sixth, seventh and eighth respectively is also a massive fight for team’s points as we reach a critical point in the season for JHR and Fortec. All three drivers will be looking to stamp their authority for themselves as well as for the two titan teams at the top of British F4 in 2021.

Knockhill is a favourite among drivers and fans alike. (Credit: Jakob Ebery Photography)

You have to go as far down as ninth in the standings before you find the highest placed Arden Motorsport runner with Zak Taylor, who will be looking to repeat the performances such as his win at Brands Hatch, whereas tenth place Roman Bilinski is taking the weekend off to focus on his recent efforts in the GB3 championship, where he’s amassed two wins already.

Another driver that’s coming into Knockhill full of confidence will be Dougie Bolger, with the Carlin rookie taking his first class win last time out and moving up to fourth in the rookie cup standings. The young Japanese driver is gaining more speed and performance with every passing weekend. Fellow rookie and Carlin team mate Kai Askey is also showing promise with two points finishes two weeks ago, and it’s fair to say that both will be looking to stake their authority within the Carlin camp in Bilinski’s absence.

Thomas Ikin comes to Knockhill off the back of a rookie podium and multiple class wins already, but sitting in thirteenth in the standings through some inconsistency. Marcos Flack, Tasanapol Inthraphuvasak and Eduardo Coseteng are locked in a battle for fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth respectively, with all three drivers showing glimpses of speed all season with sparse results. The unpredictable nature of Knockhill could prove to be the place where big points finally come their way.

Aiden Neate has been massively impressive since making his debut in the series at Brands Hatch, scoring four times in six races and even taking a fastest lap in the final race at Oulton Park. Richardson Racing’s Georgi Dimitrov is still looking to get going properly, even after a reverse grid win at Snetterton, and Arden’s David Morales will be looking to gain more seat time and experience to improve on a season’s best fourteenth at Brands.

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