Finally, the time has come again. The world's strongest Formula 4 series starts its new season this weekend. In this preview we take a look at the teams and their drivers, the tracks, the race format, the points system and the pre-season testing. Also, as always, at the end you'll find my prediction for the championship this year.
Sebastian Montoya, Kirill Smal, Conrad Laursen, Hamda Al Qubaisi
Prema will have four drivers on the grid this season. For Sebastian Montoya, it will be his second year with the team. He finished eleventh in last year's championship and achieved his best results three times in fifth place. Kirill Smal also already starts in a few races with Prema last year. Second place in the last race of the season in Vallelunga was his best result last season. Earlier this year he also competed in the F4 UAE where he finished the championship in third place with four wins. Conrad Laursen, the reigning Danish Formula 4 champion, joins the team for this season as well. He won two out of nine races last season and finished on the podium seven times. For the first time, Hamda Al Qubaisi will compete as an official Prema driver this year. She has already been counting on the support of the Italian team for some time. Her best result in Italian Formula 4 so far was a ninth place with Abu Dhabi Racing at Monza. In F4 UAE, she has already won six races in the past two years.
Luke Browning, Vladislav Lomko, Tim Tramnitz
US Racing competes with three drivers this season. Luke Browning is the only newcomer to the team. He is the reigning champion of British Formula 4. He won seven races last year and finished on the podium sixteen times. Both Vladislav Lomko and Tim Tramnitz already drove for Ralf Schumacher and Gerhard Ungar's team last season. The Russian won two races in the German ADAC F4 last year. The reigning ADAC F4 Rookie Champion Tim Tramnitz has also already won a Formula 4 race and finished fourth in the German ADAC F4 championship last year.
BWT Mücke Motorsport
Joshua Dürksen, Erick Zúñiga, Jonas Ried
Mücke Motorsport is fielding three drivers this season. All three have already competed in Formula 4 races with the team. Joshua Dürksen is starting his third season with the team. In the past two years, he has won nine races with them. For the Mexican Erick Zúñiga it will be his second season in Formula 4 with the team. Last year he finished eighth three times. Jonas Ried is the newest driver in the team. In preparation for this season, he already competed in Formula 4 UAE earlier this year. He finished the championship in ninth place and was on the podium twice.
Levi Révész, Lorenzo Patrese
AKM Motorsport has two drivers for this season. Levi Révész will make his Formula 4 debut this weekend. The Hungarian competed in kart races with Kart Republic last year. Lorenzo Patrese, Riccardo's son, already competed in a few races with the team last year. 16th place was his best result so far.
Van Amersfoort Racing
Joshua Dufek, Nikita Bedrin, Cenyu Han, Bence Válint, Oliver Bearman
The Dutch Van Amersfoort Racing Team is fielding five cars this season. Joshua Dufek competed in Spanish F4 with MP Motorsport last year, where he finished fourth in the championship and finished on the podium eight times. Russian Nikita Bedrin was WSK Super Master Series champion in 2020. In preparation for this season, he competed in F4 UAE earlier in the winter. A third place was his best result from nine races. Cenyu Han or "McQueen", on the other hand, is already starting his second season with the team. Last year, a thirteenth place in Monza was the Chinese driver's best result so far. Hungarian Bence Válint also competed in races with VAR last year. His best result so far was a sixth place in Monza. Oliver Bearman is another newcomer to the team. The British racer competed in F4 races with US Racing last year. He has already won a race in both the German ADAC F4 and the Italian Formula 4 and has also finished on the podium one more time.
Leonardo Bizzotto, Eron Rexhepi, Francesco Simonazzi
BVM Racing will be competing with three drivers this year. For Leonardo Bizzotto and Eron Rexhepi, it will be their first season in Formula 4. Both were previously active in kart series such as WSK or IAME. Their team-mate Francesco Simonazzi, on the other hand, is already contesting his third Formula 4 season. His best result so far was a sixth place with BVM last year in Vallelunga.
Vittorio Catino, Nicolás Baptiste, Suleiman Zanfari, Georgis Markogiannis
Cram Motorsport will have four drivers on the grid this year. The Moroccan Suleiman Zanfari is only contesting part of the programme because he is also competing in the Spanish Formula 4 with MP Motorsport this year. His best result in a Formula 4 race was fifth place at Circuit Ricardo Tormo last year. The other three drivers all contested a few races with the team last year. Vittorio Catino finished twentieth in Imola, his best result. Colombian Nicolás Baptiste's best result was a fifteenth place at Imola. Greek Georgis Markogiannis recorded his best result in Monza with a sixteenth place.
Piotr Wiśnicki, Samir Ben, Jorge Garcíarce, Francesco Braschi, Santiago Ramos
Jenzer Motorsport starts the new season with five drivers. Pole Piotr Wiśnicki was already part of the team last year. A sixth place in Monza was his best result last year. Swiss Samir Ben recently made his debut with the team in Spanish F4. In Spa-Francorchamps, he finished fifteenth and sixteenth once each, in addition to a retirement in the second race. The Mexican Jorge Garcíarce raced in the F4 NACAM last year where he won one race and finished on the podium one more time. Francesco Braschi competed in several races with the team last year. The Italian also contested two rounds in the F4 UAE with Mücke Motorsport at the beginning of this year, where he finished on the podium twice in second place.
AS Motorsport will start the new season at the Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet with only one driver for the time being. The Pole Kacper Sztuka spent last year with a lot of test time in the Formula 4 cars. This weekend he will make his debut in a single-seater race. Previously, he competed mainly in international kart races.
Marcus Amand, Victor Bernier, Sami Meguetounif, Marcos Flack
R-ace GP is also on the grid for the first weekend of the Italian F4. Marcus Amand will make his Formula 4 debut with the team. In 2019, he was FIA Karting European Champion in the OKJ category. Frenchman Victor Bernier is entering his second season with the team. Last year he won two races among others and finished fifth in the ADAC F4 Championship. Sami Meguetounif was still racing in French Formula 4 last year, where he won one race and finished the championship in fourth place. Her teammate for this season is Australian Marcos Flack, who will only take part in selected weekends as he also competes in this years British F4 with Argenti Motorsport.
Leonardo Fornaroli, Pietro Armanni, Maya Weug
Iron Lynx will start with three drivers this year. The Italian Leonardo Fornaroli already drove for the team last year. He already made it onto the podium once in Monza in third place. He finished the championship in ninth place last year. Pietro Armanni made his debut for BVM Racing in the Italian F4 last year. His best result so far was a seventeenth place. Maya Weug competes under the 'Iron Dames' banner with Iron Lynx. She won the FIA Girls On Track programme last year and now starts her first ever Formula 4 season as a Ferrari Driver Academy member.
DR Formula RP Motorsport
Portuguese Pedro Perino already made his debut in the Italian F4 at the last race weekend of last season in Vallelunga. This year he is now racing his first full season. He has also competed in kart races with the DR Formula team before.
Round 1: Circuit Paul Ricard (14-16 May)
This year's season opener takes place in France at the Circuit Paul Ricard. Italian F4 races were last held here in 2018. Olli Caldwell won the first race with Prema back then. Frederik Vesti and Van Amersfoort Racing were victorious in the other two races.
Round 2: Misano World Circuit (4-6 June)
The second stop on the calendar is the Misano World Circuit. Races were also held here last year. Gabriele Minì won the first race with Prema. Andrea Rosso and Cram Motorsport won the second race. Victory in the third race went to Francesco Pizzi with Van Amersfoort Racing.
Round 3: Vallelunga Circuit (25-27 June)
At the end of June, it's off to the Vallelunga Circuit near Rome. Last season, the season finale took place here. Oliver Bearman won the first race with US Racing. The second race was cancelled due to heavy rain. The third and final race was won by Jonny Edgar with Van Amersfoort Racing.
Round 4: Imola Circuit (23-25 July)
The Imola Circuit will host the Italian F4 again at the end of July. Due to the pandemic, two race weekends were held here last year. On the first weekend, Filip Ugran and Jenzer Motorsport were victorious in the first race. The second race was won by Jonny Edgar and Van Amersfoort Racing. Then in the third race, victory went to Andrea Rosso and Cram Motorsport. On the second weekend, Prema enjoyed two wins with Gabriele Minì and Dino Beganovic. Victory in the third race went to Jak Crawford and Van Amersfoort Racing.
Round 5: Red Bull Ring (10-12 September)
In mid-September, they will be back at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. The first race last season was won by Joshua Dürksen with Mücke Motorsport. The second race was won by Jak Crawford and Van Amersfoort Racing. Victory in the last race went to Prema and Gabriele Minì.
Round 6: Mugello Circuit (8-10 October)
The penultimate race weekend this year takes place at the Mugello Circuit. Last year, Andrea Rosso won the first race here with Cram Motorsport. Prema took the wins in the other two races with Gabriel Bortoleto and Gabriele Minì.
Round 7: Autodromo Nazionale di Monza (29-31 October)
This year's season finale takes place at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza. Van Amersfoort Racing and Francesco Pizzi won the first two races here last year. The third race was won by Pietro Delli Guanti and BVM Racing.
In Italian Formula 4, three races are held each weekend, each lasting half an hour plus one lap. The starting grid is determined in two qualifying sessions of 15 minutes each. The result of qualifying 1 counts for the starting grid for the first race and the result of qualifying 2 forms the starting grid for the second race. For the third race, the grid will be determined by the second fastest lap of each driver in both qualifying sessions.
The points system is the same for every race. As in F1, there are points for the top 10. No extra points are awarded for pole positions or fastest laps.
(P1: 25, P2: 18, P3: 15, P4: 12, P5: 10, P6: 8, P7: 6, P8: 4, P9: 2, P10: 1)
Before the official start of the season this weekend, there were also some testing days for the Italian F4 on different race tracks. Only in Paul Ricard, however, almost all drivers who compete in this season were there.
The first tests of the year took place at Mugello. The two Prema drivers Kirill Smal and Sebastian Montoya were fastest just ahead of Iron Lynx driver Leonardo Fornaroli.
P1: Kirill Smal
P2: Sebastian Montoya + 0.076 sec
P3: Leonardo Fornaroli + 0.082
P4: Santiago Ramos + 0.310
P5: Francesco Braschi + 0.596
P6: Francesco Simonazzi + 0.657
P7: Nicolás Baptiste + 0.690
P8: Hamda Al Qubaisi + 0.855
P9: Nikita Bedrin + 0.911
P10: Conrad Laursen + 1.105
RED BULL RING
At the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Oliver Bearman with Van Amersfoort Racing was the fastest on both days. On the faster second day, the two Russians Vladislav Lomko and Kirill Smal followed him in second and third place.
P1: Oliver Bearman
P2: Vladislav Lomko + 0.295 sec
P3: Kirill Smal + 0.386
P4: Leonardo Fornaroli + 0.396
P5: Joshua Dufek + 0.511
P6: Tim Tramnitz + 0.558
P7: Nikita Bedrin + 0.614
P8: Bence Válint + 0.654
P9: Charlie Wurz + 0.675
P10: Sebastian Montoya + 0.677
Pre-season testing also took place at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza. Leonardo Fornaroli was fastest in his Iron Lynx car over both days. Kirill Smal, Joshua Dürksen, Sebastian Montoya and Victor Bernier followed more than three tenths of a second behind.
P1: Leonardo Fornaroli
P2: Kirill Smal + 0.342 sec
P3: Joshua Dürksen + 0.507
P4: Sebastian Montoya + 0.579
P5: Victor Bernier + 0.595
P6: Leonardo Bizzotto + 0.609
P7: Erick Zúñiga + 0.702
P8: Sami Meguetounif + 0.798
P9: Jonas Ried + 0.833
P10: Lorenzo Patrese + 0.848
At Circuit Paul Ricard, 40 drivers tested over two days. On the first day, Sebastian Montoya in the Prema was the fastest driver.The second day, however, was much faster. All 40 cars were classified within less than two seconds. Iron Lynx driver Leonardo Fornaroli was fastest just ahead of Kirill Smal and Tim Tramnitz.
P1: Leonardo Fornaroli
P2: Kirill Smal + 0.010 sec
P3: Tim Tramnitz + 0.086
P4: Sebastian Montoya + 0.121
P5: Oliver Bearman + 0.122
P6: Joshua Dufek + 0.144
P7: Luke Browning + 0.207
P8: Hamda Al Qubaisi + 0.213
P9: Charlie Wurz + 0.357
P10: Nikita Bedrin
Once again, I venture a prediction for the driver and team championships for this race series.
Drivers Championship Prediction
P1: Kirill Smal
P2: Sebastian Montoya
P3: Joshua Dürksen
P4: Oliver Bearman
P5: Leonardo Fornaroli
My two main favourites for the title this year are Prema drivers Kirill Smal and Sebastian Montoya. However, should US Racing also contest the full season, then I definitely see Tim Tramnitz or Luke Browning having a chance of winning the championship title as well. Joshua Dürksen must also be reckoned with again this year. The Paraguayan will certainly be able to score a few victories. I have similar expectations of Oliver Bearman with Van Amersfoort Racing. The surprise of the season this year could be Leonardo Fornaroli with Iron Lynx. His times in the tests were very demanding and last year he was already able to make a mark or two. Same for Santiago Ramos. He already was able to show some strong results in his rookie year last season with Jenzer. In the Rookie Championship I think Nikita Bedrin and Conrad Laursen will fight for the title.
Teams Championship Prediction
P1: Prema Powerteam
P2: Van Amersfoort Racing
P3: US Racing
I think that at the end of this year, the Prema Powerteam will again be at the top of the team standings. Behind them, I see Van Amersfoort Racing in second place. I think US Racing will finish third, even if they don't start every weekend. For me personally, they have the strongest driver line-up this year.
written by Claudio Graf (youngdriversmonthly) / 14th May, 2021