Random Series Recap #1 - S48 W3 - F4 British Series05.09.2022 -
As one of the lowest rated racing series, British Formula 4 focuses in theory on developing young talents from United Kingdom, Ireland and nearby islands. To prove their value, they have to however compete with tough and very experienced drivers like 48-year old John Barber, or a guest from Iceland and last winner of the series, 31-year old Asgeir Mar Asgeirsson. Every season this series visits 10 British tracks, including legendary Silverstone, with two races on each track.
In the past
First two weeks of competition were dominated by two different drivers, with Barber scoring maximum of 109 available points in week 1 and Asgeirsson repeating this feat in week 2. However both of those drivers showed also some underperformance with Barber scoring 35 points in week 2 and Asgeirsson delivering only 16 points in week 1. This meant that both of them were behind three more consistent drivers led by 22-year old Bobby Robertson whose combined score was 162 points.
This week's track
British Formula 4 was hosted this week in Hampshire County, home of one of the fastest circuits in UK - Thruxton. This 3.8 km long track consists of 11 turns, mostly long and fast ones.
On Wednesday group of 26 drivers showed up at the track in order to qualify for sprint race on Friday. First attempt by Robertson already set the bar high with the result of 1:12.301 Few minutes later Barber got an even better lap with 1:12.109. No other driver could come close to this, until the second attempt by Robertson. After two sectors he was 0.03 seconds ahead but his last sector was far from perfect and he finished by just 0.002 behind Barber - who later set an even better time and won qualification.
Friday greeted drivers with a damp track and probability of more rain. Most of the drivers still chose slick tyres as the water level at the start was quite low. Opening laps brought a bit of fighting in a midfield, that resulted in crash involving Nigel Drysdale and Indiah Darcey. Front of the race was as exciting, first Asgeirsson who started P3 overtook Robertson, then Barber made a massive mistake which sent him from P1 to P3. He then quickly gained one position from Robertson and got very close to Asgeirsson, but his aggressive driving style combined with a bit of water on track resulted in many smaller errors which prevented him from regaining lead.
Robertson couldn't really find his optimal pace and after a bold attempt in final sector he was overtaken on lap 8 by Dan Condon. With 7 laps to go, Asgeirsson made a small mistake on turn 5 and it was enough for Barber to attack successfully and move to first place. Three laps later fight for victory ended as Asgeirsson made another mistake falling 3 seconds behind leader and staying there for the rest of the race. Behind them Robertson tried to claw back to third but great defense by Condon allowed the Irishman to stay at podium place.
No sign of rain made Sunday perfect day for racing as drivers lined up on start line in order of their Friday finishing positions. Few minutes later it was pretty clear that only two drivers will be fighting for a victory as Barber and Asgeirsson opened a few seconds gap on their competitors. Their fight this race was one for history books, for the first 19 laps difference between them never grew higher than half a second with few successful overtaking maneuvers for both drivers. But this game of inches was not decided on the track - on lap 20 Asgeirsson went for an undercut and, with a brilliant pit crew work, spent in his box 2 seconds less than Barber who pitted two laps later. Barber tried to put his fresher tyres to good use but was unable to mount a successful attack finishing just 0.1 seconds behind Asgeirsson. Behind the front two, awful luck struck Dan Condon who successfully defended for 34 laps against Robertson only for his car to fail him and force to retire with just 7 laps to go. It allowed Robertson to reach his fourth podium in six starts.
In week 4 British F4 moves up north to Oulton Park. Looking at pure racing pace this should once again be a fight between Barber and Asgeirsson. However their aggressive style of driving, and as a consequence, vulnerability to making errors may open the door for slower but more consistent drivers. It may be time for first Robertson's win this season or surprising result from young Brazilian prodigy Antoniy Devid who quietly collects top 6 finishes and stays just 8 points behind series podium. British F4 may be the lowest tier series but it's certainly high on excitement scale.
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