Abu Dhabi, December 16, 2017 - The 2017/18 F4UAE Championship powered by Abarth opened its second season with an impressive array of success as four different race winners graced the podium at Yas Marina Circuit this week (December 14-15).
Supporting the famed Gulf 12 Hours event, Round 1 of F4UAE also welcomed the all-new race winners - of both teams and drivers - as they attacked four 30-minute races around the 5.5km international layout at the Abu Dhabi circuit.
Having raced in the inaugural season of F4UAE, Belgium driver Charles Weerts (#88) returned to a relaunched Dragon Motopark F4 team by winning the opening, which was also the Dubai-based racing team's first victory in the category.
Experienced international racer Olli Caldwell (#64) from the UK claimed his first victory in Race 3 with SILBERPFEIL Energy Dubai, his teammate Lucas Petersson (#22) won Race 2 - his first in the category after debuting in the formula at the final round of our inaugural season - while Czech racer Tom Beckhäuser (#95) claimed his first ever circuit racing win with CRAM Motorsport in Race 4.
"Congratulations to all of our winners who raced very hard this weekend and we are very pleased to see so many young enthusiastic drivers on the podium," said Mohamed Ben Sulayem, President of ATCUAE and Emirates Motor Sport Federation, and FIA Vice President for Sport. "F4UAE is the perfect category for them to learn as much as they can to help develop their career and they showed this week that we will have a very exciting F4UAE championship ahead. We look forward to welcoming them back with more drivers at Round 2 next month."
PRACTICE & QUALIFYING SUMMARY
Three and a half hours of testing and official practice on Thursday gave the newcomers ample track time to become acquainted with the internationally recognised circuit, with three rookies in the field making their official transition from karting to the Abarth-powered Tatuus F4UAE racecars.
Both SILBERPFEIL energy Dubai drivers swapped bragging rights early in practice, while Lucas Roy (#8) had a minor brush with a tyre barrier under the Yas Viceroy which was quickly repaired before qualifying.
First pole position of the 2017/18 season went to Charles Weerts for Dragon Motopark F4, their best qualifying effort since joining the category, with a time of 2m13.382s. Meanwhile the first ever female racer to compete in F4UAE, Logan Hannah (#92) for Dream Racing, qualified a credible eighth in what was her circuit racing debut.
With nine drivers officially entered for the opening round of the season, Race 1 was dominated by both Weerts and Beckhäuser who swapped paint and laps in the lead throughout the 30-minute race. Weerts held the advantage by 6 seconds over the Czech racer at the chequered flag, getting his first race win in F4 internationally after having spent the summer months racing in the ADAC Formel 4 championship in Germany. Petersson rounded out the podium in third place, his second career podium in F4UAE.
Race 2 on Friday morning featured an inverted top-six starting position, with Rasgaira MOTORSPORT's Petr Ptacek (#9) starting from pole position after Olli Smith (#3) withdrew from the weekend for on personal grounds. After an initial aborted start, Ptacek lead the field away as a three-way battle ensued between he and the two SILBERPFEIL Energy Dubai drivers of Petersson and Caldwell. Caldwell lead from the first lap while his teammate progressed from third place to first by lap nine. Petersson held on for his first career open-wheeler win with Caldwell second and Ptacek third by race's end.
The race three grid was determined by each drivers' second-fastest lap time in qualifying, giving Beckhäuser the start from pole alongside Weerts. However, the Czech driver stalled on the start and fell to the back of the field as the lights went out. Caldwell made the most grounds on lap one, getting to the lead and staying there for the full 30-minute race. Petersson challenged the frontrunners and ended up third, while Weerts maintained second. GDL Racing's experienced racer Mikhail Spiridinov (#67) and Logan Hannah came together in the latter part of the race, when the 16-year-old rookie attempted an overtaking manoeuvre. Hannah retried from the race despite having clocked her fastest lap time around the circuit all weekend.
The final 30-minute race saw another inverted top-six start with Roy on pole alongside Beckhäuser on the front row. Beckhäuser was too strong for the German driver and took the lead on the first lap, only to then be pursued by Weerts; a battle that carried throughout the entire weekend considering the two drivers had raced against each other in Germany last season. The CRAM Motorsport driver held on to get his first ever career win, ahead of Weerts and Ptacek getting another podium finish in third.
Hannah impressively finished three of her four races on debut, making up nearly two seconds a lap on her qualifying times by weekend's end, while Spiridinov claimed the gentleman driver award for GDL Racing.
Round 2 of the 2017/18 F4UAE Championship will be again held at Yas Marina Circuit, the Home of F4UAE, from January 19-20. The event marks the first of three back-to-back race weekends held between the Abu Dhabi circuit and Dubai Autodrome; a move which was designed to help reduce travel and logistics costs for international teams and drivers.
Final championship standings will be made available on www.f4uae.com in the coming days once signed off by category management.
Tom Beckhäuser (CZE), CRAM Motorsport (#95): “It's amazing, it's my first win ever in an FIA championship and it's so great to do it here at Yas Marina Circuit, a legendary Formula 1 circuit. Generally, we're getting more consistent, and I'm getting used tothe conditions here which are much different to Europe. I still have much to learn and I think this championship is the perfect place to do it."
Charles Weerts (BEL), Dragon Motopark F4 (#88): "It's great to be back here in F4UAE. Knowing the circuit from last year and having the data was a big help so to get a race win is always a good feeling and gives a lot of confidence for the rest of the championship. It's fun to see Tom back here racing as well, after being in the rookie championship in Germany this year should be a good year with lots more battles."
Kevin Day, Team Owner of SILBERPFEIL Energy Dubai: "It's been a fantastic weekend, from qualifying third and fourth, and then today the boys have been really good getting those wins. They've listened and learnt from everything their driver instructors have told them, kept improving their lap times, made the right moves to get to the front and they both walked away with race wins. We can’t complain at all. "