F4UAE SHARES RACING SPOTLIGHT WITH GULF 12 HOURS AT YAS MARINA CIRCUIT
As the international racing heroes of the Gulf 12 Hours start arriving at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s endurance race, so too are the sport’s future stars who will fight for bragging rights at the second round of the 2016/17 FIA Formula 4 UAE Championship.
Sharing the racing spotlight with the Gulf 12 Hours event from Thursday, F4UAE will also see a growing grid as two new drivers are set to make their circuit racing debut; Australian karter Oscar Piastri (#88) and American karter David Malukas (#79). More racing will also be added to the schedule as teams prepare to tackle four championship races around the famed 5.5km Formula 1 circuit in the UAE’s capital.
“We will see a lot of excitement at the second round of the F4UAE where the competitors will be more familiar with the circuit and the cars after already a few events of competition,” said Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of ATCUAE and Emirates Motor Sports Foundation. “I would like to wish everyone an enjoyable and safe event.”
Australian karter and Young Racing Driver Academy (YRDA) star Piastri will be the one to watch as he debuts with Dragon F4. The 15-year-old, based in England, recently finished sixth at the CIK FIA world junior championships in Bahrain. With time spent testing a British F4 car in Europe and the UK recently, Piastri says he is not daunted by the challenge ahead.
"I’m excited because it’s my first car race, but with European karting it doesn’t get much bigger in terms of the level of competition so I’m used to the pressure,” said Piastri. “At the end of the day it’s still a race car, but with karts you can get away with sliding through corners. With F4 it’s more about precision driving. I’ve gone through data and watched some onboard vision of the Dragon F4 car at the circuit so I’m really looking forward to getting into the car now and getting some testing done myself. Yas Marina Circuit looks spectacular.”
Meanwhile, Chicago-based Malukas, who was the 2015 Junior X30 World Champion in karting, joins Rasgaira Motorsports in what is also his first car-racing event and will contest the remainder of the season.
At last month’s Round 1 in Dubai where Races 1 to 3 were held, Team Motopark teammates Jonathan Aberdein (#21) from South Africa and Logan Sargeant (#23) from the USA claimed first and second places respectively across all three point-scoring races. Dubai-based Energy Dubai F4 Racing Team’s Sean Babington (#4) and Rasgaira Motorsport’s James Roe Jr (#11) from Ireland shared third place finishes after hard fought battles with the front-runners.
All podium-winning drivers return this weekend with their respective teams, as well as Ahmad Al Muhannadi (#22) and Abdulrahman Tolefat (#20) for QMMF F4 Team, and Saif ben Sulayem (#03) for the ATCUAE who’s car is being repaired in time for Thursday practice following an on-track accident at the last round.
Aberdein currently leads the driver standings on 75 points ahead of Sargeant, who also leads the rookie standings, on 54. While QMMF F4 Team’s Ahmad Al Muhannadi (#22) from Qatar has the most championship points among his fellow GCC competitors.
The 2016/17 calendar features 18 championship races across five rounds.
Round 2 of the F4UAE Championship will begin tomorrow December 15 at Yas Marina Circuit – the Home of F4UAE – with two extended test sessions scheduled from 12.15pm. Friday sees official practice, qualifying, and then Races 4 and 5 of the season from 2.30pm, followed by Races 6 and 7 on Saturday from 8.30am.