FIFTH SEASON OF F4UAE CONFIRMED TO BEGIN JANUARY 2021
A fifth season of the FIA Formula 4 UAE Championship powered by Abarth will go ahead in 2021, with a five-round calendar confirmed to start in mid-January at the 24 Hours of Dubai.
The F4UAE championship – which has had more than 60 drivers from 30 countries compete since the category started in 2016 – will begin for points in earnest on 13 January 2021 as a support to the famed 24-hour endurance race at the Dubai Autodrome. Running over a two-month period, the season will then see an additional four rounds split between the Dubai-based circuit and Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi before ending on the first weekend of March 2021.
While F4UAE is still in talks with circuit management and stakeholders regarding another appearance at the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in December, category technical director Craig Thompson believes that the current global challenges associated with Covid-19 may not make it possible.
“Like many other sports, and lots of other categories within motorsport, this year has been all about keeping everyone safe and making the championship as adaptable as possible to support members of our pitlane community wherever we can,” said Thompson.
“It has been a tough year for everyone globally and our thoughts are with those who have been affected by Covid-19, especially with many of our F4UAE teams and drivers based in some of the worst-hit countries overseas. But it gives us confidence seeing that racing is now starting to resume to some capacity already internationally.
“We’ve been working during the off-season with our local governing body of motorsport, the EMSO, our circuits and our teams, plus local government authorities when it comes to ensuring that we have the right health and safety protocols in place. We’re glad to announced a 2021 calendar so that we can also return to racing in the UAE next year, while also remaining flexible should circumstances change globally due to Covid-19,” concluded Thompson.
Over the last four seasons, F4UAE has continued to build a strong developmental racing platform for young drivers wanting to start their professional driving career. The category continuously provides approximately 40 hours of track time each season, practice start sessions at test days to help new drivers learn to start races safely, additional private testing opportunities, media coaching workshops, plus education sessions with officials to better understand the regulatory side of the sport; all aspects which hold young racers in good stead for future development up the racing ladder.
Governed by the Emirates Motorsport Organisation (EMSO) and promoted by AUH Motorsports, F4UAE has provided a footing for many young drivers who have gone onto bigger categories in Europe in recent years. Australian Oscar Piastri and American Logan Sargeant (both from F4UAE's inaugural season) currently sit first and second outright in the 2020 FIA Formula 3 Championship, while last year’s F4UAE champion Francesco Pizzi from Italy leads both the outright and rookie standings in the 2020 Italian F4 Championship.
Other former F4UAE champions include Italian Matteo Nannini (2018/2019) who last month scored his first F3 podium in Barcelona, Belgium racer Charles Weerts (2017/2018) who has won already in 2020 for Team WRT in GT World Challenge Europe, while South African Jonathan Aberdein (2016/2017) races for BMW in DTM.
F4UAE is open to drivers aged 15 years and above and was created by the world’s governing body of motorsport, the FIA, to help young drivers bridge the gap between existing regional racing series and karting, to European competition and potentially Formula 1.
Information about pre-season testing dates will be published in due course, as well as next year's sporting regulations which are in final stages of approval. Interested parties wanting to join the grid in 2021 can email firstname.lastname@example.org
The 2021 F4UAE Entry Form can be downloaded here.
2021 F4UAE CHAMPIONSHIP CALENDAR
Round 1: 13-15 January 2021, Dubai Autodrome
Round 2: 21-23 January 2021, Yas Marina Circuit
Round 3: 4-6 February 2021, Yas Marina Circuit
Round 4: 11-13 February 2021, Dubai Autodrome
Round 5: 4-6 March 2021, Dubai Autodrome
FRANCESCO PIZZI CROWNED 2020 F4UAE CHAMPION IN DUBAI
Italian rookie Francesco Pizzi sealed the 2020 F4UAE Championship powered by Abarth with one race to go at the final round held in Dubai over the weekend, while also clinching the Rookie Champion title and helping his team Xcel Motorsport claim Team Champion honours.
Fifteen year old Pizzi - who has lead the championship standings all year - somewhat struggled early on with tyres and pace, only able to finish fourth in the opening race and fifth in Saturday morning’s Race 2; a race which could have sealed him the title if his nearest rival had not taken victory. With 50 points up for grabs in the final two 30-minute races, and 31 points his margin, Pizzi’s second-place finish in Race 3 was enough to seal the title at the Dubai Autodrome; the same track where he started his open-wheeler campaign back in January.
Pizzi’s impressive season saw him make his open-wheeler debut at the opening round held as a support the famed Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai, and since has amassed eight race wins, one pole position, and 10 podiums, leading home his teammate Lorenzo Fluxa in both the outright and rooking standings by year’s end.
“It’s an emotional win for sure because of a lot of work that we’ve done in the last year with testing to prepare for my first championship,” said Pizzi. “I was expecting the other drivers to be faster than me but we had the pace in the first round, and with the support of my team we were able to keep going with more wins.
“It was a challenging weekend in the beginning, and even though we had a good qualifying the first two races were not so good for the results because we could have won the championship earlier. In Race 3 I started from pole but my teammate got in front and I stayed in P2 all race. We didn’t get a race win this weekend which is what I wanted, but to get the championship trophy is what we have been working hard all year for so I’m very happy and hopefully it is the beginning of more wins in Europe.”
The weekend saw three different drivers claim victory at the Dubai Autodrome, with Pizzi’s teammate Fluxa - who finished second outright in both the drivers and rookie championships - took victory in Race 3; his second career victory. BWT Mücke Motorsport’s Nico Göhler won Race 2 and finished third outright in the overall standings, while Abu Dhabi Racing’s Hamda Al Qubaisi won the first and last races of the round to take her season tally to three victories.
Dubai-based Xcel Motorsport were the team to beat all year, eventually winning the triple crown of titles for a second year in a row which included Teams Champion honours after scoring a total of 11 championship race victories among their drivers and 32 race podiums.
At the end-of-season Gala Awards dinner held in Dubai, the following drivers were congratulated by their teams, peers, officials and category management.
F4UAE Drivers Champions: Francesco Pizzi, Xcel Motorsport
F4UAE Runner-Up: Lorenzo Fluxa, Xcel Motorsport
F4UAE Third Place: Nico Göhler, BWT Mücke Motorsport
F4UAE Rookie Champion: Francesco Pizzi, Xcel Motorsport
F4UAE Teams Champions: Xcel Motorsport
F4UAE Sportsmanship Award: Hamda Al Qubaisi, Abu Dhabi Racing
Full weekend report to follow on www.f4uae.com
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)