CHARLES WEERTS WINS F4UAE CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE FOR 2018
Dubai, UAE, March 3, 2018 - Belgium racer Charles Weerts has taken his maiden open-wheeler title after winning the second season of the F4UAE Championship by dominating all races in Dubai this weekend (March 2-3).
Coming into the final round 13 points ahead of title rival David Schumacher (#27) from Rasgaira Motorsports/US Racing, the 17-year-old claimed victory in all four 30-minute races to not only seal the drivers championship but help his Dubai-based Dragon Motopark F4 team claim the teams championship as well.
Last season, Weerts contested three rounds of F4UAE with German outfit Team Motopark, claiming six top-five results and one podium finish. The teen continued on with the ADAC Formel 4 Championship in Germany last year where he came second in the rookie standings before returning to the UAE with the recently merged outfit Dragon Motopark F4.
Over the six rounds and 23 races contested in the 2017/18 F4UAE Championship, Weerts dominated from the first race, taking the initial win in December at Yas Marina Circuit. He went on to win a total of eight races, with 17 podium appearances and was fastest in qualifying twice out of six rounds.
"Congratulations to Charles and Dragon Motopark F4 after their strong success this weekend at the Dubai Autodrome," said Mohamed Ben Sulayem, President of the ATCUAE, Chairman of the Emirates Motor Sport Federation and FIA Vice President for Sport. "For Charles to start his open-wheeler career here in F4UAE, and then come back stronger and faster to win the title this time is a great achievement for him and the championship, which always aims to provide the best training platform to help these young drivers become racing stars of the future.
"Also, congratulations to everyone at Dragon Motopark F4, a team that has set a benchmark for motorsport in this country, and their investment and support of the championship is now being rewarded. We look forward to F4UAE growing even bigger next season."
David Schumacher - who joined the championship as a rookie at Round 2 - won a total of three races and scored 16 podium finishes out of 19 starts, eventually finishing 22 points behind Weerts in the drivers championship. Schumacher also took home the F4UAE Rookie Championship.
Schumacher's US Racing teammate Tom Beckhäuser (#95) finished a commendable third outright after contesting the full season, and also claimed the F4UAE Sportsmanship Award at the end-of-season-gala dinner, which was voted on by peers and category representatives.
In the teams championship, Dragon Motopark F4 finished in the lead by 19 points by season's end, able to beat fellow UAE-based outfit SILBERPFEIL Energy Dubai during the final four races of the seaosn.
Twenty-one different drivers from 12 countries competed in F4UAE this season, with nine of them winning races since the championship began back in December 2017 at Yas Marina Circuit.
TESTING & QUALIFYING SUMMARY
Eight drivers entered for the final round of F4UAE which was contested on the 5.39km Grand Prix Circuit of the Dubai Autodrome. Times during Thursday's two testing sessions saw the two title rivals just 0.003sec apart by day's end, with Schumacher fastest over Weerts. However the tables reversed in qualifying, with Weerts clocking both the fastest and second-fastest times in qualifying to score the two pole position starts across the weekend.
In Race 1, Weerts lead from the get-go and held off Schumacher and Beckhäuser while also extending his lead to 9.977secs by race's end. However the frontrunner was given a 5-second penalty for a false start post race which did not affect the final positions.
Race 2's reverse grid format saw the two SILBERPFEIL Energy Dubai teammates of newcomer Jake Dalton (#23) and Lucas Petersson on the front row of the grid. Dalton - a former BRDC F4 racer - lead the majority of the race until suffering a broken right steering arm, while Weerts was too fast for the competition, moving from sixth to first in the 30-minute race.
Race 3 had the two title rivals at the front of the grid again, however a lap one Safety Car intervention was called when Dragon Motopark F4's Lucas Alecco Roy (#8) barrel-rolled after contact with Petersson - who subsequently had a penalty added to his starting position for Race 4. On the same lap, driver error caused his teammate Amaury Cordeel (#888) to lose control of his Tatuus racer under yellow flags, crashing into the pitwall on the front straight.
Both drivers were declared fine by the medical team, however the race was red flagged and restarted with 20 minutes remaining on the clock. Weerts, Schumacher and Dalton lead at the front of the pack and so was the order in which they finished at the chequered flag, giving Weerts more than enough points to win the drivers championship title one race early.
In the final 30-minute race of the season, the front row was filled by Beckhäuser and Edoardo Morricone (#42) - who in the previous race finished his best in 4th position. With the drivers championship pressure off Weerts in 5th, it was the teams championship that was yet to be decided between the two UAE-based teams. Despite Dalton racing hard to second overall for SILBERPFEIL Energy Dubai, Weerts' win was enough for Dragon Motopark F4 to claim the title.
At the end-of-season Gala Awards dinner held on Saturday night, the following drivers were congratulated by their teams, peers, officials and category management.
F4UAE Drivers Champions: Charles Weerts, Dragon Motopark F4
F4UAE Runner-Up: David Schumacher, Rasgaira Motorsports/US Racing
F4UAE Rookie Champion: David Schumacher, Rasgaira Motorsports/US Racing
F4UAE Third Place: Tom Beckhäuser, Rasgaira Motorsports/US Racing
F4UAE Teams Champions: Dragon Motopark F4
F4UAE Sportsmanship Award Winner: Tom Beckhäuser, Rasgaira Motorsports/US Racing
For more information head to www.f4uae.com
Charles Weerts (BEL), Dragon Motopark F4 (#88): "Yeah I'm really happy about this, I've put quite a bit of effort into it and it's a boost in confidence for the season ahead in Germany. Like every rookie you make mistakes but with a lot of practice here in the UAE with practice starts, and a lot of races, I make good progress during the year."
Brad Fincham, team principal of Dragon Motopark F4: "Charles has been really focussed the last two weeks that he's been based here in the UAE, he's been doing a lot of simulator sessions, track walks, he put his head down and looked at lots of data, and he knew he wanted the championship so went after it and he deserves it for sure. It's been a big push for us to grow the team to what it is and to win the double, the drivers and teams titles, is very rewarding."
David Schumacher (GER), Rasgaira Motorsports/US Racing: "I’m really happy with my end results of the championship, with P2 overall and P1 in the rookie championship. I missed out the first of the six weekends so I think I can be really happy with how far I came. Big thanks to everyone a US Racing and my father for always supporting me and helping me to learn a lot in my first F4 championship."
WEERTS AND SCHUMACHER LEAD FIGHT FOR F4UAE CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE IN DUBAI
Dubai, UAE, March 1, 2018 - After 19 races and more than 26 hours of official track time during the 2017/18 F4UAE Championship season to date, this weekend's Round 6 will see both the Drivers and Teams titles being fought for at the Dubai Autodrome (March 2-3).
Dragon Motopark F4's Charles Weerts (#88) leads the driver standings over Rasgaira Motorsports/US Racing's David Schumacher (#27) who is just 13 points behind. For Weerts - who contested F4UAE last season plus the German F4 Championship in 2017 - and 16-year-old rookie Schumacher, it would be the first title for either driver in their open-wheeler careers.
Twenty different drivers from 11 countries have competed in F4UAE this season, with nine of them winning races since the championship began back in December 2017 at Yas Marina Circuit. Weerts, who turns 17 years old this weekend, has won four races and scored 12 podium finishes out of 19 starts. Schumacher - who joined the championship at Round 2 - has won three races and scored 13 podium finishes out of 15 starts.
While there are 100 points on offer, third-placed Tom Beckhäuser (#95) from Rasgaira Motorsports and fourth-placed Lucas Petersson (#22) from SILBERPFEIL Energy Dubai still have a mathematical chance at the title, but will require the front-runners to not finish races in order to do so.
"We take great pride to see that more drivers have come to the Middle East this season to compete in F4UAE, and that nearly half have won a race which is very impressive," said Mohamed Ben Sulayem, President of the ATCUAE, Chairman of the Emirates Motor Sport Federation and FIA Vice President for Sport.
"All of our drivers and teams have worked very professionally all year and have helped grow F4UAE into the chosen training platform during winter for racers going on to European competition. It will be a very exciting two days of racing, as we watch our young drivers fight for their first championship title."
In the battle for team honours, both SILBERPEFEIL Energy Dubai and Dragon Motopark F4 are in contention with just 29 points separating them respectively. With last year's teams champions being Team Motopark from Germany, the victory will be the first time that the teams title will be retained within the UAE ahead of next year's third season of F4UAE.
The grand finale of the 2017/18 F4UAE Championship, Round 6, will be held at the Dubai Autodrome from March 2-3, 2018. While Thursday March 1 will consist of three testing and practice starts sessions, Friday will see qualifying and race one being held ahead of the final three races of the season on Saturday.
For more information head to www.f4uae.com
Brad Fincham, Team Principal of Dragon Motopark F4: "It's been a great progression for the team to grow from one car last year to three cars on the grid this year. The fact that Charles has lead the championship all year into this final round, we're quite excited about it and hopefully we can keep the title in Dubai.
"I think there's been points during the season, especially around Rounds 3 and 4, where the battle between Charles and David [Schumacher] reached the height of their rivalry. We've been very professional in our approach all the way throughout and Charles has actually shown a very mature pair of shoulders when there have been a few heated moments. But it's not over yet and I'm hoping that the two drivers will keep it clean and fair right up until the last race."
Robert Cregan, Team Manager of Rasgaira Motorsports: "It's pretty cool to be in the running for the title considering David didn't do the first round, so he's missed four races but still only 13 points behind Charles. We would have like to have gained more points at Yas Marina Circuit last weekend, but with the Mücke Motorsport drivers being so fast we were fighting for second and third places which you don't gain as many points for.
"For the team it's great to have a driver fighting up the front consistently. David's consistency has improved a lot since he started and his race craft is very good. How he sets up moves is one of his strong points and there's been some edge-of-your-seat racing between he and Charles. But in terms of the title, David's quite a relaxed guy and he doesn't really stress much. He's just concentrating on himself and his racing."
NEW RACE WINNERS CORDEEL AND ALATALO STEP UP AS F4UAE TITLE WILL BE DECIDED AT GRAND FINALE IN DUBAI
Abu Dhabi, UAE, February 25, 2018 - Two new race winners were crowned at Round 5 of the 2017/18 F4UAE Championship powered by Abarth, as both Dragon Motopark F4's Amaury Cordeel and BWT Mücke Motorsport's William Alatalo scored their first career open-wheeler victories at Yas Marina Circuit last weekend (February 23-24).
With nine different drivers adoring the top step of the podium this season so far, the championship fight will also go down to the grand finale this weekend at the Dubai Autodrome, where Dragon Motopark F4's Charles Weerts (#88) and Rasgaira Motorsports/US Racing's David Schumacher (#27) are just 13-points apart in the championship standings.
"To have the F4UAE title being decided in Dubai between two very fast and committed drivers will be very exciting for the championship," said Mohamed Ben Sulayem, President of the ATCUAE, Chairman of the Emirates Motor Sport Federation and FIA Vice President for Sport.
"It has been an exciting season with so many different young race winners getting their first taste of victory here in the Middle East, and many international teams joining us to help the championship to grow. Congratulations to all the drivers who have won so far and we wish everyone a successful event in Dubai at the final round."
Despite a condensed field of eight international drivers for the penultimate round of the season, the first race of the weekend was won by a now four-time winner Weerts, then Cordeel for Race 2, followed by a double-victory by Alatalo in the last two 30-minute races.
For the final time this season, the 5.55km GP configuration of Yas Marina Circuit and its support starting grid and paddock were in play.
Tom Beckhäuser (#95) made a team switch from CRAM Motorsport to US Racing for the final two rounds, a move deemed positive with more time being found and progression towards the faster end of pitlane during early practice and testing.
However, 16-year-old David Schumacher was unbeatable again, topping the official qualifying session for the third time in his four round starts with a time of 12m11.525 seconds.
Schumacher and Weerts got off the line equally for Race 1 however it was the young championship leader from Belgium who got the better start, taking the lead on the opening lap. Alatalo (#6) and Cordeel (#888) battled for third and fourth places all race until a safety car was deployed for Niklas Krütten (#5) after crashing out at turn one in the closing laps. A last-lap restart saw the field cross a final time with Weerts taking the chequered flag ahead of Schumacher and Cordeel.
Race 2 started with an inverted top-six grid, with Dragon Motopark F4's Lucas Alecco Roy (#8) on pole position alongside Beckhäuser who took the race lead on lap one. However, driver error handed the lead back to a hard-charging Cordeel who took over mid-race. Battles mid-pack continued with SILBERPFEIL Energy Dubai's Lucas Petersson (#22) who ran in second place for most of the race, but it was the category's two championship rivals Schumacher and Weerts who finished a commendable second and third respectively behind the Dragon Motopark F4 driver by race's end.
With a 19-point gap between Schumacher and Weerts heading into Race 3, Schumacher started again from pole however the Belgian racer baulked his start, giving Alatalo and Cordeel a free shot up into second and third place by the first corner. Weerts fell back to fifth behind Roy, however gained the spot back on the same lap, and then another as Cordeel ran wide under the hotel. With the running order being Schumacher, Alatalo and Weerts, it was Alatalo's charge up the inside of Schumacher at Turn 11 that gave the Finnish driver the lead and the eventual win; his first in F4 racing.
The final race's grid saw Petersson on pole, while Beckhäuser - who was meant to start P2 - failed to start the race due to technical repairs not being able to be completed in time on his car between races. Petersson stalled on the start, Krütten took the jump in front of Weerts, and Schumacher and Alatalo battled wheel-to-wheel during the opening stages. Alatalo's passing prowess from Race 3 shone again in Race 4, moving past Schumacher in order to chase down his leading Mücke Motorsport teammate. Picking off his rivals one lap at a time, Alatalo was too fast for the leaders and took a four second gap by the chequered flag over Krütten second and Weerts third.
Weerts currently leads the drivers championship on 277 points, 13 points ahead of Schumacher with both drivers being the only two in contention for the title; which would be either driver's first crown in open-wheeler racing.
In the teams championship, SILBERPEFEIL Energy Dubai leads by 29 points over Dragon Motopark F4, with both in contention to take that title at the season finale next weekend in Dubai.
Full championship standings are available on http://www.f4uae.com/events/2017-18-points
The grand finale of the 2017/18 F4UAE Championship, Round 6, will be held at the Dubai Autodrome this coming weekend, March 2-3, 2018.
Amaury Cordeel (BEL), #888 Dragon Motopark F4: "It has been difficult this year because it is the first time in the car. Before I crashed much and made mistakes but now finally I am more confident and I have been working very hard to learn and get improve. The setup has been really good this weekend and the car felt better and it's just great to win. Of course everyone wants to win but I feel great it has happened and to prove that I can do it."
William Alatalo (FIN), #6 BWT Mücke Motorsport: "It feels great, my first wins in F4. It's been some awesome racing and a lot of racing that's been helping me to improve my skills. I hope I will be as good in the Italian F4 Championship this year as I was here in the UAE."
Frank Lucke, Team Manager of BWT Mücke Motorsport: "Happy is not the right word, we are insanely happy for what we did here in the two rounds of F4UAE. For the whole team and for the drivers it was a big step to get familiar with everything; the race tracks, the tyres. Finally we have a double victory and at their age they are quite young, so they have been improving every race and learning quite quickly. Yes they make mistakes but that is why we are here so that they can be more prepared when we start testing in Italy in two weeks. The drivers will take a lot of self-confidence from these results."