Saturday at the Red Bull Ring began with Race 1, the first of the three qualifying races, featuring Group B and C drivers on the track. After an intense battle that saw 4 drivers out of the race already in the first few minutes, Alexander Dunne, US Racing, gained his second win of the season. The Irishman had been missing from the first step of the podium since Imola, where he had again taken a great victory in weather conditions not much different from today's race. In fact, the track was slippery from tonight's rains, but the weather remained clear for the duration of the race. Dunne, having gained the lead, mainted it while masterfully defending himself from the attacks of James Wharton, PREMA Racing. It is precisely the Australian driver who tries to seize the victory in race 1 untill the end; he seems to succeed in turn 4, when he shows off great speed and is briefly ahead, but his opponent gets the better trajectories. Wharton then has to settle for the second step of the podium and Rookie victory. In the final lap, Ugo Ugochhukwu, Italian-American of PREMA Racing, already at the debut round in Italian F.4 is battling for the race win. Steadily in P3, he took advantage of the tussle at the front to make up the gap on his teammate and, in the final lap, he made a breakthrough by trying to overtake Wharton, but was unable to finalize. An outstanding result then, at the first try in the Italian series, the most competitive on the international scene, but not surprising since the driver's qualities were already known from the English. Fourth under the checkered flag is Nikita Bedrin, PHM Racing, but the driver then receives a 10'' post-race penalty for the incident that caused Valerio Rinicella, AKM Motorsport, to retire on the first lap and slip to P7. P4 to Nikhil Bohra, who completes the Rookie podium: he manages to recover positions starting from the fourth row, taking full advantage of the start by moving to the inside and then, again, restarting well from the Safety Car, taking advantage of the confusion in front of him to close fourth.
Excellent result then for Brando Badoer, Italian driver of Van Amersfoort Racing, who brings home his best finish of the season here at the Red Bull Ring with P5 overall, ahead of his teammate, Norwegian Martinius Stenshorne. Eighth place for the other Irish driver in the race, Adam Fitzgerald, who finds the right pace with the R-ace GP car, and finishes into the points.
Completing the top 10, again a driver from the Dutch Van Amersfoort Racing team, Jules Castro, who precedes under the checkered flag Nicola Lacorte, Iron Lynx. An excellent result for the Italian driver, who managed to finish gain a point in his first race ever in Formula 4.
Instead, the race poleman, Rafael Camara, PREMA Racing, closes eighteenth. After leading in the early stages, loses the leadership following a nice overtake on the outside by Dunne, then slips back a few positions. Eventually, trying to regain the lead touches, Taylor Barnard, PHM Racing, loses his front wing and ends up in the rear. Barnard also suffers damage from the contact and, from fighting for the lead, finishes race 1 last. Retired instead, before the completion of the first lap, Alfio Spina, who with the colors of BVM Racing arrives in Austria ready to fight for the top positions starting from the third row. The Sicilian was involved in the incident that eliminated Ivan Franco Domingues, Iron Lynx. Domingues spun in front of the BVM driver following a contact with Marcus Amand, US Racing. The French-Finnic of the German team is then in turn forced to stop and is penalized with the loss of 5 grid positions in today's second race. A penalty also comes for Ethan Ischer, Jenzer Motorsport, who receives a drive through converted to a 25'' as a penalty for his jump start in race 1.
Alexander Dunne: “it was a good race. I got pretty lucky with Rafa and Taylor crashing into each other. I think we lacked a little bit of pace compared to the car behind, but I defended quite well and then managed to keep the position.”
James Wharton: “I was fast in one sector he (Dunne) was faster in the others, so it was very hard to overtake. It was a good race, still good points, but it’s a long way to go to get the win. I really want to get the win in the next couple of rounds, just so that I can have a win in my rookie season. Next few races are about trying to get the win now.”
Ugo Ugochukwu: "it was a very good race. At the start it was a little slippery, it was wet on the inside, so I lost some positions, however I kept pushing. I tried to pass then for second place, but I didn't succeed on the last lap."
Nikhil Bohra: “we had a really good start, by being on the inside there was still a lot of water from the rain last night, but we had good traction. We took P6 after the first couple of corners and we had good restart on the Safety Car. There was a bit of chaos in front and we managed to capitalize and take home P4 overall and P3 in the Rookie.”
One more race at the start today, Saturday, Sept. 10, with Group A and B drivers starting at 14:45. Tomorrow, Sunday, Sept. 11, Race 3 at 10:35 with Group A and C drivers, then the final race with the 36 eligible drivers, starting at 17:25.