WURZ WINS INAUGURAL GEN2 F4UAE RACE AT ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX
Austrian Charlie Wurz made history today by winning the first race ever run in the second-generation Tatuus F4 car at the F4UAE Trophy Round, held as part of the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (December 9-12, 2021).
First-time race winner Wurz (#7) – who raced select events of the Italian F4 Championship earlier this year - qualified second behind his Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema teammate Andrea Kimi Antonelli (#99) but took the lead from lights out to claim his maiden win by 2.7 seconds at the non-championship event.
Fifteen-year-old Antonelli had topped both of Friday’s practice sessions and scored pole position on Saturday around the revamped 5.28km Yas Marina Circuit layout with a lap of 1m55.574s; 0.8s seconds ahead of Wurz.
Sunday's 25-minute incident-riddled race saw various collisions on lap one, including MP Motorsport’s Rik Koen (#9) locking up into Turn 9 and spinning Emirati racer Hamda Al Qubaisi (#88), who in turn ended up in the path of Russian Miron Pingasov (#55) who needed to return to the pits to change his front wing.
A safety car was called and Koen ran wide at Turn 14 only to collide with Xcel Motorsport’s Aiden Neate (#57), leaving the former with no option but to retire. 2020 Danish F4 champion Conrad Laursen (#20) hung with the front pack of Wurz and Antonelli with the three Prema drivers leading the charge on the restart.
At Turn 6, 2021 Spanish F4 Championship winner Dilano van’t Hoff – who raced in F4UAE last season – was involved in a collision with Antonelli which was later deemed a racing incident by stewards.
Wurz lead the closing leaps with a comfortable lead over Laursen, and Italian Antonelli further back in third. MP Motorsport-entered Vladislav Ryabov finished fourth and local UAE racer Jamie Day from Xcel Motorsport climbed four places from where he qualified to finish fifth.
“It was amazing to be part of the first race in the new Tatuus car and in front of Formula 1 and all the drivers that I aspire to be like,” said Wurz, who is the son of former F1 racer Alex Wurz. “It was a pretty hectic first lap but once I overtook Kimi [Antonelli] I just maintained my lead and pushed to have a decent gap by the end."
A grid of more than 20 cars had been expected to race this weekend, however shipping delays resulted in only half the grid being in the country in time for the F1 support billing. This week sees the arrival of the majority of those teams in Dubai, with official pre-season testing scheduled at Dubai Autodrome later this week for all teams entered in the 2022 season.
"Showcasing the new Gen2 Tatuus F4 was extremely important for the formula, for Tatuus, the FIA and the wider motorsport community," said category promoter, Craig Thompson. "We had to do everything we could to see it on track, even if it meant running our event a little differently than planned. This new race car is very impressive, and the engineers at Tatuus and Autotecnica Motori have done a commendable job to not just build a beautiful race car but importantly to incorporate the new safety advancements for our drivers."
The 2022 F4UAE Championship powered by Abarth will now focuss on its point-scoring season which starts in January as a support to the Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai; the first event of a five-round season based within the United Arab Emirates. The Gen2 T-421 Tatuus F4 race car, featuring advanced safety systems including the halo, will be rolled out in various European and Asian championships next year once it is contested in the F4UAE Championship from January.