AL QUBAISI AND MARINANGELI BECOME FIRST-TIME F4UAE WINNERS AT YAS MARINA CIRCUIT
The UAE's Hamda Al Qubaisi and Italian racer Nicola Marinangeli became first-time winner in openwheeler racing, as four different drivers took victory at Yas Marina Circuit at Round 3 of the 2020 F4UAE Championship powered by Abarth (February 13-15).
Marinangeli made his single seater debut in F4UAE last season, and has returned stronger in 2020 after a season in Europe; the Italian has achieved a total of seven podiums so far in 2020. While 17-year-old Al Qubaisi - who now boasts six podiums in 2020 - became the first Arab woman to win a point-scoring F4 championship race in history. Her sister Amna took a "trophy" race victory in November last year as part of F4UAE's support to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, however it was not part of the championship title.
BWT Mücke Motorsport's Nico Göhler was victorious in Race 1, taking his second career race victory and second this season. While current championship leader Francesco Pizzi of Xcel Motorsport pushed through for a Race 4 win after a challenging weekend of racing.
"The view up there on the top step of the podium is a different thing, it's amazing that I've had three pole positions in a row this year but now I have the race win that I've been waiting for," said Al Qubaisi. "It's really hard to convert pole position to a race win because all the nerves, and the pressure of starting from pole is massive.
"But to also have my family and my sister here watching me win is amazing. When I started the race I made sure I just focussed and saved my tyres and got the gap over the other drivers. Hopefully now that I've been able to make the switch in my mind of knowing what to do to win I'll be able to keep going and get more."
So far this season, Pizzi (#51) has lead the championship from the opening round in Dubai, and now boasts six wins to date. Other than the four drivers who were victorious this past weekend, Mexican racer Erick Zuniga (#23) is the only other driver to claim a race win during the 2020 F4UAE season, as he did last round at Yas Marina Circuit.
Twelve drivers contested Round 3 of the F4UAE Championship including BWT Mücke Motorsport's newest driver Josef Knopp (#4) who made his single seater debut, and French F4 race winner Isack Hadjar (#44) who joined 3y Technology.
Round 3 of F4UAE was held on the North Circuit configuration, and Abu Dhabi Racing’s Hamda Al Qubaisi (#88) took her third pole position of the season with a time of 1m09.680s lap. Pizzi again was second fastest in qualifying with Göhler (#2) third fastest in a session that saw the top 10 drivers qualify within one second of each other.
Al Qubaisi and Pizzi started on the front row for Race 1 on Friday afternoon, but it was Göhler who made the better start and overtook on the outside of Turn 1 to gain the lead on the first lap. Pizzi slotted into second, Al Qubaisi third and Lorenzo Fluxa (#7) from Xcel Motorsport fourth.
Halfway through the race Pizzi suffered engine issues and retired to the garage, giving Göhler the chance to gain much-needed championship points over his nearest rival in the title chase. A fairly clean race ensued with the German taking the victory over Al Qubaisi and Fluxa respectively, while Marinangeli (#14) finished fourth. The win was a second victory for Göhler for both his career and at Yas Marina Circuit; his maiden win coming last month at Round 2.
BWT Mücke Motorsport’s Erick Zuniga started Race 2 from pole for the reversed grid Saturday morning race. The Mexican racer lead for the first 20 minutes, first holding off Zdenek Chovanec (#6) and Al Qubaisi, plus Marinangeli who initially fell back to seventh before finding the pace to attack.
A first corner collision between Chovanec and Göhler saw the rookie being given a 10-second penalty post-race. Göhler managed to continue on with steering damage to finish the race, classified sixth after Chovanec's penalty was applied. Marinangeli moved to the lead on lap 18, with Al Qubaisi soon-after slotting into second place. Zuniga settled for a third-place finish and top rookie honours for Race 2. After only one year of single-seater racing, the win was Marinangeli's debut race victory.
The third 30-minute race saw Al Qubaisi and Pizzi fill the front row; a grid that was determined by a driver's second-fastest times in qualifying. Al Qubaisi charged on the startline to build a gap to her rivals, as the battle between Pizzi, Fluxa and Göhler ensued behind. Marinangeli retired after five laps. The Emirati racer built a gap of 10.5 seconds at the chequered flag - the greatest margin all weekend - with Fluxa and Pizzi filling the podium. 3Y Technology's Isack Hadjar was also a standout of the race finishing in fifth.
A challenging Race 4 at Yas Marina Circuit saw the 30 minute race stopped twice. A red flag was instigated after only four laps after a collision between Chovanec and Dragon Racing's Reema Juffali; the Saudi racer rolling her #88 Tatuus racecar but with both drivers medically cleared. The grid was reordered and race restarted, however shortly after a second caution was called for an incident between Zuniga and Hamda Al Qubaisi.
Eventually, Xcel Motorsport scored a 1-2 finish with Pizzi getting his first win of the weekend and his championship dominance back, while Marinangeli finished second and Göhler third. Dream Racing's Abdulrahman Al Bloushi from the UAE finished eighth, which was his strongest performance all season as a rookie.
After 11 races contested in three rounds, Franceso Pizzi still leads the drivers and rookie championship standings, with Nico Göhler closing the gap still behind in second outright. Nicola Marinangeli remains third, and Hamda Al Qubaisi moves up to fourth place. Xcel Motorsport maintains the lead of the teams standings.
Round 4 of the F4UAE Championship powered by Abarth will return to the Dubai Autodrome from February 20-22, 2020, with the grand finale also being held in Dubai two weeks later (March 5-7).