ENZO TRULLI CROWNED 2021 F4UAE CHAMPION IN DUBAI
Italian rookie Enzo Trulli has clinched the 2021 F4UAE Championship powered by Abarth by holding off title rival Dilano Van’t Hoff in the final race of the season at the Dubai Autodrome.
The son of former F1 race-winner Jarno Trulli, the 15-year-old rookie had sat second in the championship standings all year behind Van’t Hoff, however, went into the final day of racing ahead by only a few points and eventually won by just one.
Three drivers were in title contention coming into Round 5 - Trulli, Van’t Hoff and Xcel Motorsport’s Kirill Smal - however, just two remained on the final day of racing. Having won four races so far this season, this weekend was particularly tough for Trulli after claiming only two podium finishes and failing to start Race 2 due to suspension issues. Earning both the drivers’ title and the champion rookie title, it was also the first time his team CRAM Durango has won a title since the Formula Abarth championship in 2013.
“It’s been an incredible season of F4UAE and certainly the most competitive we’ve had in five seasons,” said category technical director and promoter Craig Thompson. “Congratulations to Enzo Trulli on the title victory, Dilano Van’t Hoff for being a standout driver, plus all our other winners. The talent this season was really high and to have such close racing and multiple winners has been very exciting to watch. The final few races today were nail-biters and for the title to come down to just one point is incredible.
“It’s been a very challenging season not just with five events back-to-back, but also with local travel restrictions and regulations to adhere to, but we appreciate all the efforts made by our teams and drivers, our officials and governing body, and the UAE authorities to ensure safe racing. We can’t thank everyone enough for allowing F4UAE to go ahead and we look forward to season number six and much more growth next year.”
Eleven drivers lined up for the grand finale at the Dubai Autodrome, with Mücke Motorsport adding former German F4 race winner Vlad Lomko (#69) to the team.
Lomko impressed from the start, topping the first qualifying session with a 2m0.341s lap; the first driver other than Van’t Hoff (#17) to claim pole position this season. Van’t Hoff qualified second fastest, but found the pace to claim pole for Race 2 and Race 3 and in turn proving to be the most dominating qualifier in recent F4UAE history.
The first 20-minute race saw Lomko lead initially, however, an altercation with Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema’s Hamda Al Qubaisi (#88) saw the Russian fall down the order. An investigation into the incident declared no driver at fault, giving Al Qubaisi the victory over Trulli (#34) and Smal (#7), leaving Lomko down in sixth and Van’t Hoff in eighth.
Van’t Hoff’s luck changed in Race 2 as his rival Trulli was unable to start due to suspension issues, however, the Dutch racer soon picked up a five-second penalty for jumping the start. Pushing hard to gain a lead of eight-seconds mid-race, the lead was nulled when the Safety Car was called with two minutes remaining, leaving Van’t Hoff to finish a lowly seventh.
During the closing stages of the race, Lomko passed Smal for P2, which resulted in a victory after Van’t Hoff’s penalty was applied. Jame Day (#24) finished third while Al Qubaisi finished last after spinning in the closing laps.
Saturday’s morning race saw Van’t Hoff and Lomko start from the front row, with both duelling for the whole race. However, it was the Russian who moved to the lead and won by just 0.308 seconds across the line. Trulli stalled on the grid, giving more valuable championship points back to Van’t Hoff, however charged through the field to finish fourth by race’s end after duelling with Al Qubaisi who finished on the podium one place ahead.
The Race 4 reverse-grid race - the title decider - saw Oleksandr Partyshev (#23) start from pole with Trulli starting from P5 and Van’t Hoff two places behind. A hectic opening lap saw Marti pitting and the Safety Car coming out, with Jonas Ried (#77) taking the lead over Smal on the restart, followed by Al Qubaisi, Van’t Hoff, Partyshev and Trulli. Al Qubaisi and Van’t Hoff soon came together with the Emirati spinning and Van’t Hoff going wide, giving Trulli the opportunity to overtake both for third place. Van’t Hoff set the fastest lap time of the race and finished fourth, but it wasn’t enough to beat Trulli on points. Smal won the race over Ried and Trulli.
Enzo Trulli claimed the title on 319 points, followed by Dilano Van’t Hoff on 318, Kirill Smal fifth on 289, Hamda Al Qubaisi fourth with 221 and Tasanapol Inthraphuvasak fifth on 154 points.
QUOTEBOOK: ENZO TRULLI, CHAMPION (#34)
"Formula 4 UAE has been a fantastic experience. Being able to practice and race so much, against high level opponents was the spark that pushed me to find my limits and to improve myself, day after day. This year, the competitive level of my challengers was very high and I am sure that they will all be successful in the various national championship they will compete in."
PEPE MARTI AND JAMIE DAY SCORE MAIDEN WINS AS F4UAE TITLE FIGHT NARROWS TO THREE
Spaniard Pepe Marti and UAE based-Jamie Day have claimed their maiden openwheeler race victories at the penultimate round of the FIA F4UAE Championship powered by Abarth at Yas Marina Circuit, as the title fight narrowed to just three drivers.
Having started his 2021 campaign with a crash last month, Marti (#13) made the most of his speed by charging to victory in Race 2. While rookie racer Day (#24) took a hard-fought Race 4 victory despite finishing third on track; the two drivers ahead both penalised for exceeding track limits which handed the win to the kart champion.
Championship leader Dilano Van't Hoff failed to win a race this round - the first winless weekend for the Dutch racer this season - but holds onto a points lead ahead of CRAM Durango's Enzo Trulli (#34) and Xcel Motorsport's Kirill Smal (#7), with all three the only drivers in contention for the title at the final round next week at the Dubai Autodrome.
Trulli was another race winner at Round 4 in Abu Dhabi, along with Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema's Hamda Al Qubaisi (#88).
“This season has really put on some spectacular competition and there is not a race that goes by without multiple-car battles not just at the front but all throughout the pack which is really exciting to watch," said F4UAE technical delegate Craig Thompson.
“Holding five rounds in five weeks has been a mammoth task for all involved, and it's a lot of racing for our young drivers, especially with most of them being rookies. So we're very happy to see how hard they've been competing and we're really looking forward to the top drivers fighting for the championship crown next week in Dubai."
Two qualifying sessions on Friday morning saw another whitewash by Van’t Hoff (#17) who for the fourth weekend topped the times outright in both sessions. The Dutch racer clocked a fastest time in Q1 and Q2 of 1m56.911s and 1m56.609s respectively, to earn pole position for Races 1 and 3.
The front row saw Van't Hoff and Al Qubaisi starting from P1 and P2, with title contender Trulli back in fourth. The Italian Trulli lost a place to Smal while Van’t Hoff fended off Al Qubaisi into turn one, but Trulli soon moved from fifth to second to fight for the lead. Al Qubaisi and Van't Hoff came together a lap later with the former crashing out, as Trulli passed Van’t Hoff around the outside to move in front as the Safety Car came out. Trulli sprinted away on the restart with Smal following, while Van’t Hoff made up track position from sixth to third. Another safety car period came out for a dualling Oleksandr Partyshev (#23) and Jonas Ried (#77) which didn't dampen Trulli and Smal in P1 and P2 respectively, however cost Van’t Hoff third place to Marti at the chequered flag.
Marti claimed the Race 2 pole with Trulli alongside on the front row, but it was the Spaniard who raced to a lights-to-flag victory for Xcel Motorsport; his first career open-wheeler win. Teammate Tasanapol Inthraphuvasak (#14) spun in the latter stages of the race to bring out the Safety Car, with the race finishing under yellow except for a dash to the chequered flag on the last lap. Trulli finished second ahead of Van’t Hoff and Al Qubaisi who both tussled for places most of the race.
The front row saw Van't Hoff and Al Qubaisi starting from P1 and P2 with the female pocket rocket taking the lead into turn one. Lap one was marred by them battling side-by-side at the end of the back straight with the Emirati cutting the track and maintaining her lead. Admitting that she was aware that a five-second penalty would be applied, Al Qubaisi charged ahead to gain enough lead time over her rivals to null the penalty, ending up 10.8s in the lead by race's end. A further penalty was also applied for exceeding track limits, bringing her lead down to just 0.8seconds; enough to take the win. With the UAE starlett out front, Van’t Hoff was left to fight with Trulli and Smal. The Italian beat Van’t Hoff in their fight for second place.
The grid for Race 4 was made up of the top-eight finishers of Race 3 reversed, however with penalties applied the front row saw the BWT Mücke Motorsport driver Jonas Ried line up on pole alongside Enzo Scionti (#29). Ried took the lead however the American stalled on the grid, and drama ensued as Trulli made contact with Marti at the end of the back straight, leaving the Race 2 winner stranded. As the field settled, Ried lead Smal and Jamie Day (#24) as the Safety car was called to help recover Marti's stranded #13 Tatuus but track limit penalties were soon applied to the two frontrunners, relegating them down the order and giving Day his maiden victory. Van’t Hoff was disqualified for technical issues.
After four rounds, Van’t Hoff leads the provisional standings ahead of Trulli second and Smal third with just the grand finale left in 2021. Round 5 of the F4UAE Championship heads back to Dubai Autodrome next week (February 11-13).
F4UAE TITLE FIGHTERS SOLIDIFY POINTS AS VAN'T HOFF MAINTAINS CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD
Round 3 of the FIA F4UAE Championship powered by Abarth saw the three main title rivals fight for honours as they shared wins at Dubai Autodrome this weekend (January 28-30, 2021).
Van't Hoff - in his rookie openwheeler season with Dubai-based Xcel Motorsport - came into Round 3 with four race wins to his name and added another one yesterday, while teammate Kirill Smal from Russia took two race victories today plus one by CRAM Durango’s Enzo Trulli from Italy. Smal had been fourth on points coming into the weekend, sitting behind the UAE's Hamda Al Qubaisi, but an engine misfire in Race 4 put paid to the Emirati's championship hopes, giving the Russian a chance to move into third outright.
Fourteen drivers from 11 countries formed part of the third round of F4UAE, with French rookie Noam Abramczyk joining Xcel Motorsport (in place of Matias Zagazeta) and Francesco Braschi returning to BWT Mücke Motorsport.
“It's becoming well apparent now who the title contenders are for 2021 and it's really exciting to watch their battles on track because they're not afraid to go three-wide into turn one and that confidence makes for exciting racing," said F4UAE technical delegate Craig Thompson. “We're seeing a mix of teams being represented on the podium too, and drivers of varying experience are up the front a lot so it's definitely the strongest field of frontrunners we've had in our five years of F4UAE. We look forward to heading back to Yas Marina Circuit for the penultimate round next week before returning to Dubai."
Two qualifying sessions on Friday morning set the pace for the weekend's four races with the results a repeat of Round 2 in Abu Dhabi. Van’t Hoff (#17) again clocked both the fastest (1m38.240s) and second-fastest (1m38.403s) lap times in Q1 to earn pole position for the first two races, as well as the fastest time in Q2 (1m38.143s) to earn pole for Race 3.
The front row saw title contenders Van't Hoff and Trulli (#34) starting from P1 and P2 and staying that way into turn one. Lap one was marred by an incident where Nikita Bedrin (#15) was found to have caused an avoidable collision with Hamda Al Qubaisi (#88) who was forced to retire. After being taken to the medical centre, Bedrin withdrew from the rest of the weekend after sustaining hand injuries. The order on the restart was Van't Hoff, Trulli and Pepe Marti (#13), but a fast-charging Kirill Smal (#7) overtook Marti for third in the closing stages to complete the podium for Race 1. Van't Hoff's win was his fifth of the season.
In the second 20-minute race, Van’t Hoff lead from pole but ran wide on the opening lap that allowed Marti to overtake for the lead, but soon saw a battle of four cars fighting for podium places. Marti lead Van't Hoff, Trulli and Al Qubaisi, with all four constantly applying pressure on each other before Trulli moved into P1 by lap four. A stranded Jamie Day (#24) brought out the safety car, with the restart happening with just four minutes remaining on the clock. While Trulli extended his lead, Smal soon entered the equation to fight for third place against Van't Hoff and making the pass stick to earn a podium finish behind Trulli and Marti. The win was Trulli's third race victory in as many weekends.
The front row for Race 3 was a Van't Hoff versus Trulli event again and the championship rivals fought side-by-side into turn one. Trulli got the lead early and let the pack behind fight for podium places including Van't Hoff, Smal, Marti and Al Qubaisi. Despite clocking the quickest lap of the race, the 18-year-old Emirati racer narrowly missed the top three, finishing just 0.176s behind Van't Hoff who finished third. Smal fought for the win - his second in F4UAE - with Trulli finishing in second place.
The grid for Race 4 was made up of the top-eight finishers of Race 3 reversed, which gave both the BWT Mücke Motorsport drivers of Jonas Ried (#77) and Francesco Braschi (#28) a front row start. An engine misfire for Al Qubaisi saw the teen pull into the pitlane before the race started, and only venturing out to circulate later in the race after engine repairs.
By the end of lap one, championship leader Van't Hoff had moved up from sixth to second place, challenging Ried for the lead until Smal was soon on his tail in third. By lap three a six-car train was battling for podium places but as the race settled it was Ried, Van't Hoff and Smal in order on track before the latter soon moved up to second place. On lap seven, Braschi went wide to give Smal the advantage and the lead, with all three staying in their positions by race's end despite much fightin gon track for position. Smal took the win three seconds clear of Braschi to seal his third race victory in open-wheelers.
After three rounds, Van’t Hoff leads the provisional standings ahead of Trulli second and Smal third. Round 4 of the 2021 F4UAE Championship, the penultimate round, heads back to Yas Marina Circuit next week (February 4-6).