SCHUMACHER DOMINATES F4UAE IN ABU DHABI WHILE COLLET TAKES MAIDEN VICTORY
US Racing's David Schumacher has dominated Round 4 of the F4UAE Championship powered by Abarth after taking two race victories and closing the gap in the title fight, while Brazilian Caio Collet took his maiden open-wheeler win at the Yas Marina Circuit event.
Sixteen-year-old Schumacher (#27) had already claimed his debut win at the Dubai Autodrome the week prior, but stepped up his rookie campaign in the Middle East championship with a double victory at the Abu Dhabi circuit.
The son of former F1 racer Ralf Schumacher shared the spotlight with first-time race winner Caio Collet (#23) from the SILBERPFEIL Energy Dubai team, and championship points leader Charles Weerts (#88) from Dragon Motopark F4 who won the first race of the weekend.
"It is wonderful to see that our new drivers are learning quickly and impressing with such strong race results," said Mohamed Ben Sulayem, President of the ATCUAE, Chairman of the Emirates Motor Sport Federation and FIA Vice President for Sport. "We have only two rounds left in the season and the competition is very close, so it will be exciting to see who will win the title not too long from now."
Round 4 of the championship saw the largest ever starting grid since the category's introduction in 2016, with Berlin-based BWT Mücke Motorsport joining the championship with two of its "Pink Panther" Formula 4 Tatuus cars, entering 15-year-old Finnish driver William Alatalo (#5) and 15-year-old German racer Niklas Krütten (#6). While DR Formula Racing - which debuted at Round 2 in January - brought 17-year-old Hungarian karter László Tóth to the event; making a grid of 13 drivers and 7 teams in total.
Schumacher had impressed with the fastest time by halfway through the qualifying session, however it was Brazil's Caio Collet who was too strong for the German, clocking the fastest time of 2m10.756s ahead of Weerts in second around the 5.55km, 21-turn full GP circuit.
Despite initial jump-start investigations into newcomers Krütten and Alatalo, no action was taken as Collet took off for Race 1 alongside Weerts. However, it was the Belgium driver who took the lead on lap one. Alatalo had a baptism of fire during his first F4UAE race, causing an ontrack incident with Dragon Motopark F4's Amaury Cordeel (#888) and was given a 10-sec penalty post-race. Weerts lead to the chequered flag and clocked the fastest time of the race, ahead of Collet who held onto a second-place finish and Schumacher in third.
The Race 2 inverted grid saw Dragon Motopark F4's Lucas Alecco Roy (#8) start from pole alongside Charouz Racing's Tom Beckhäuser, and held onto the lead until lap two when Schumacher made ground. Collet followed suit and soon after was up to second with SILBERPFEIL Energy Dubai's Sami Taoufik (#3) running third until suffering a technical issue on the closing laps. Weerts filled the final position on the podium in third at race's end.
Collet started from pole position in Race 3 - earning the right to do so thanks to clocking the second fastest lap time in qualifying on Friday - and ran away from the field as competitors behind began to up the stakes. On the opening lap, SILBERPFEIL Energy Dubai's Lucas Petersson (#22) made contact with Cordeel which resulted in broken suspension for the Dragon racer. Schumacher and Weerts also collided on lap four which brought out the safety car, with the incident ending Weerts' race while Schumacher was handed a 10-second penalty post-race for causing an avoidable accident.
Despite numerous other racing incidents, nothing could stop Collet from going on to win his first career open-wheeler race while also setting the fastest lap time. Schumacher - who crossed the finish line in second place - ended up in fifth place after his penalty was handed down, giving Taoufik second place and Alatalo third; both scoring their first podium finishes in F4UAE. BWT Mücke Motorsport's rookie Krütten finished a commendable fourth place in his first race weekend in open-wheelers.
Petersson started Race 4 from pole position alongside Schumacher, however a lap one altercation with his teammate Collet saw Peterson fall to the rear of grid. Schumacher dominated the race despite Collet staying with him; Collet eventually finished in second place less than one second behind and scoring the fastest lap of the race. Meanwhile Alatalo finished third to grab his second podium finish of the weekend.
Dragon Motopark F4's Charles Weerts maintains his championship lead on 210 points with David Schumacher sitting just 15 points behind thanks to his two victories, while also jumping up as the highest-placed rookie. Czech driver Tom Beckhäuser sits in third on 177 points, while SILBERPEFIL Energy Dubai is comfortably leading the teams championship.
Round 5 of the 2017/18 F4UAE Championship held on February 23-24 will be the final time that the championship will race at Yas Marina Circuit this season, followed a week later by the grand finale at the Dubai Autodrome from March 2-3.
Franke Lucke, BWT Mücke Motorsport Team Owner: "For our first event here in the UAE, we are proud and very happy with the result, two times on the podium. We were working very hard for that; our drivers are still very young and need to improve but yes it was a good weekend. We know many of the teams in the paddock and I think sporting-wise F4AUE is in a very good position to have a successful championship. It's a new market for us but we are very happy to be here."
David Schumacher (#27), US Racing/Rasgaira Motorsports (GER): "It feels very good to win the two times because I'm getting more comfortable with the car and it's getting better and better each time I race. I really am loving driving the open wheel race cars. There are only a few races left now so I hope I will be able to get closer to the title and then carry these wins into the German F4 championship that starts soon."
Caio Collet (#23), SILBERPFEIL Energy Dubai (BRA): "Well both Schumacher and Weerts are the main competition for sure but I got to open up a gap in the beginning of the race when they started fighting for position behind me. After the safety car it was important to keep the lead on the restart and I had a really strong car to finish so far in front. Thanks to the team for the perfect car."