The F4UAE Championship powered by Abarth has had one of its strongest seasons to date, with new events, history-making race wins, and more drivers from the MENA region than ever before. With four races remaining in 2020, let's look at the story and numbers of Season #4 and what to expect for this weekend in Dubai.
Starting back in 2016, the F4UAE Championship has been a chosen platform for winter racing where junior drivers from all over the globe are able to hone their race craft straight out of karting, prior to making the leap into competitive open-wheeler racing in Europe. Despite small grids in the launch season, six former F4UAE drivers are now set to compete in the 2020 FIA F3 Championship which is proof that the category is starting to make inroads when it coms to grooming future racing stars on the road to F1.
This year’s season began with a stellar Trophy Round supporting the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November 2019 - a first for the category - where drivers raced in front of their F1 heroes for bragging rights and Abu Dhabi Racing's Hamda Al Qubaisi became the first Arab female racer to win in single-seaters; irrespective of it being a non-championship race. Alex Connor - who cut his teeth karting at the Dubai Kartdrome for Xcel Motorsport in his younger years - also scored a victory.
Then five point-scoring championship rounds were scheduled in 2020, with the opening round in January supporting the famed Hankook Dubai 24 Hours at the Dubai Autodrome. Current championship leader Francesco Pizzi from Italy took a hat trick of race victories in his first weekend racing formula cars, and has been the driver to beat all season. Also leading the rookie standings, he and his teammates have worked hard to also help Xcel Motorsport be the team to beat into the final roud of 2020 ahead of second-placed German squad BWT Mücke Motorsport.
Over the last four rounds, six different drivers have claimed race wins out of a possible 15 races with Pizzi claiming the most with eight victories. German racer Nico Göhler has won three races, with other single-race winners including Nicola Marinangeli from Italy, rookie Erick Zuniga from Mexico, Mallorcan rookie Lorenzo Fluxa and local Emirati racer Hamda Al Qubaisi who won her first open wheeler race in F4UAE at Round 3 in Abu Dhabi; another first for women in the sport. Al Qubaisi has also scored the most number of podiums, with 10 so far ahead of the two Italian racers Pizzi and Marinangeli (both on nine).
This year’s championship has also seen a record number of competitive GCC drivers with three being part of the grid. They include Al Qubaisi who has impressed not just with her race victory but by also scoring three out of four possible pole positions so far, while KSA’s Reema Juffali for Dragon Racing scored her best race result of fifth place last round, and the UAE’s Abdulrahman Al Bloushi for Dream Racing has impressed with massively improved times in his rookie season. Add in Merhbod Shameli from Iran, that brings the total MENA region drivers to four.
This weekend sees the fifth and final round of the 2020 F4UAE Championship back at the Dubai Autodrome (March 6-7, 2020). Isack Hadjar returns for 3Y Technology, while Shameli is unfortunately unable to compete due to travel restrictions in place between Iran and the UAE. Ontrack activity starts with Motorsport Weednesdays private testing on Wednesday March 4; public testing is on Thursday March 5; official practice, qualifying and Race 1 is on Saturday March 6; and the final three races of 2020 will be held on Saturday March 7. Entry to the Dubai Autodrome is free all weekend, with food stalls available onsite.
STATS IN REVIEW:
RACE WINNERS: Out of 15 races, there have been six different race winners. Pizzi (8), Göhler (3), Zuniga (1), Marinangeli (1), Al Qubaisi (1) and Fluxa (1)
POLE POSITIONS: out of four qualifying sessions in 2020, Hamda Al Qubaisi was one three and Pizzi has won one.
PODIUMS: out of a potential 45 podium places, seven different drivers have stood on the podium. Al Qubaisi (10x), Pizzi (9x), Marinangeli (9), Gohler (7x), Fluxa (7x), Zuniga (2x) and Chovanec (1x)