FIRST-TIME WINNERS FEATURE AT OPENING ROUND OF F4UAE IN ABU DHABI
The sixth season of the FIA F4UAE Championship powered by Abarth got underway at Yas Marina Circuit this week (January 20-23) with three drivers sharing four race wins and earning the first championship points globally in the new “second generation” T-421 Tatuus race car.
Twenty seven drivers from 11 teams contested the season opener in Abu Dhabi, with Prema Racing's Andrea Kimi Antonelli winning the first two races - his first in single-seaters - MP Motorpsort's Tasanapol Inthraphuvasak claiming the Race 3 victory, while new entrant PHM Racing scored the Race 4 win with first-time victor Taylor Barnard.
Inthraphuvasak started on pole for the season opening race but stalled on the grid and dropped to the rear of the field. Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema's Aiden Neate (#57) from the UK inherited the lead ahead of his teammates which lead to one of the closest finishes in the category's history.
Crossing the line in a photo finish of just 0.003 seconds clear of each other, Antonelli (#99) took the victory by the smallest of margins ahead of Neate and Aussie rookie James Wharton (#13) in third who made his single-seater debut for Prema Racing.
The Italian two-time winner finished Race 3 first, however a post-race time penalty for crossing the circuit's blend line at pit exit relegated him back to third place, giving Inthraphuvasak his second career single-seater victory ahead of Austrian Charlie Wurz (#7) in second.
The final 25-minute thriller on Sunday saw Barnard (#77) get a blinder of a start from fifth-placed into the lead at the completion of lap one, and staying out in front the entire race. The PHM Racing driver kept extending his margin over the field despite an ensuing Antonelli who finished second outright from starting 12th, and former F4UAE champions Xcel Motorsport got their first podium of the season with team stalwart Jamie Day (#24) claiming third.
"It's been an incredible weekend of racing and to see the drivers racing hard and fair, and with not too many safety cars, really gave us some of the best racing we've ever had in F4UAE history," said category promoter Craig Thompson.
"It's no secret how much work has been put into this new season of F4UAE with the new Tatuus race car making its debut. Logistically it's been a huge operation from all of our technical partners, logistics teams, entrants, drivers and the crewing of officials.
"To start the season with 27 cars is nearly twice what we've had in the past but it's been extremely rewarding to see the grid so large and the drivers having a great time competing. Congrats to them all for a strong start to the season."
Despite Antonelli not returning to compete until Round 3, he leads the championship lead ahead of Inthraphuvasak and Neate respectively. The F4UAE Championship next heads to Dubai Autodrome for Rounds 2 to 4, starting next week from January 28-30. The 2022 season contests five rounds over five weeks.
To read an extended weekend racing report, click here.
Our Round 1 Summary Report including results and entry list can be found here.