The sixth round of the Italian F.4 Championship at Mugello Circuit brought several surprises, effectively reshuffling the balance at the top of the driver standings. Kacper Sztuka continued to impress, riding a positive trend, securing all pole positions of the weekend, and consequently winning all three races. For Sztuka, who had already clinched victory in the opening race of the year, the win had eluded him until the fifth round. The Polish driver from US Racing made up for it, winning all three French races at Paul Ricard, and then the three at Mugello, making it a total of 6 consecutive victories and 7 in total, becoming the driver with the highest number of wins this year. With 150 points earned in the last two rounds, Kacper Sztuka climbed to the top of the leaderboard with a total of 258 points.
Everything needs to be done from scratch for the Londoner Arvid Lindblad, the Red Bull junior driver of Prema Racing. Lindblad had managed to build a comfortable lead dominating the first part of the year, securing 6 victories in the first 4 rounds of the 2023 season. However, 2 rounds below expectations, coupled with the Polish driver's exploit, erased it all. While he had collected 24 points at Paul Ricard, Lindblad closed in Tuscany with only 11 points, also marking a retirement in Race 2 when, in the midst of the battle for P3, he misjudged his defense against Italian Brando Badoer's attacks, resulting in both cars crashing into the wall. The incident, fortunately without physical consequences for the drivers involved, also affected the outcome of the final race, causing the Englishman to lose 4 positions on the grid due to a penalty imposed by the Stewards. Thanks to his excellent performance in the first part of the year, the gap from P1 is now very narrow. With 256.5 total points, Arvid Lindblad is in second place with only 1.5 points behind. The Red Bull junior driver has mathematically confirmed his Rookie victory, a title he was contending for with his teammate Tuukka Taponen.
For Prema Racing, this is the second victory achieved at Mugello, following the Team Trophy success for the second consecutive year.
Ugo Ugochukwu moves from second to third place in the driver standings after the Mugello Circuit. For the American McLaren junior driver of Prema Racing, the change in position is not a demerit. The change in the lead is rather attributed to Sztuka's unstoppable final sprint, with the American from Prema making no mistakes in the last round either. Tuscany was indeed Ugo Ugochukwu's most favorable round of the season. Finishing on the second step of the podium three times, he collected 54 points, the second highest haul after the clean sweep of the new standings leader. With 240 total points (58 points behind Sztuka), Ugochukwu will be the third and final contender for the 2023 Italian Champion title at Vallelunga.
The situation in the fourth and fifth positions in the driver standings remains unchanged. James Wharton, Ferrari Driver Academy driver of Prema Racing, maintains P4 after the round at Mugello Circuit with 177.5 points. For the Australian, the weekend's tally has been 21 points, with the best result achieved in Race 3, where he celebrated on the podium. Despite seeing his title ambitions dim, James Wharton's hunger for victory is far from satisfied. With already 2 wins in hand from round 3 at Spa-Francorchamps, he will head to Vallelunga determined to climb to the top step of the podium once again. The fifth position in the standings is still held by Finnish driver Tuukka Taponen, also racing for Prema with Ferrari Driver Academy insignia. Taponen has collected 145 total points in his debut season, showcasing his speed on several occasions. During the season, the Finn was able to celebrate from the top step of the podium in the first race at Misano World Circuit, in the second round of the Italian F.4 Championship. He also battled in the Rookie class, where he has accumulated a total of 4 wins up to this point.
The upcoming round at the Autodromo Piero Taruffi in Vallelunga, from October 13 to 15, promises an unparalleled spectacle, with the title battle more open than ever. Another variable to consider will be the presentation of 16 valid results out of 21 for the final points calculation. This situation currently further favors Kacper Sztuka.
Everything is yet to be decided for the Woman Trophy, where Victoria Blokhina of PHM Racing is in the lead with 283 total points. In second place, Swiss driver Tina Hausmann of AKM Motorsport has the highest number wins in the class, 7, with a score of 274 points. Hausmann is also favored by not having to give up any results for the final points tally. In third place, and not yet out of the title race, is Belgian-Brazilian driver Aurelia Nobles. The Ferrari Driver Academy driver of Prema Racing has 5 class wins this season but, in terms of points, pays the price for participating in fewer races than her rivals. With 215 valid points, the driver is still mathematically in the race, but the possibility of her being crowned the Woman Trophy winner will require a combination of factors beyond her on-track performance, making the achievement very challenging at this point.
The grand finale at the Roman Circuit, with 3 races that are expected to be highly spectacular, will close all the rankings, crowning the winners of the 2023 season. The event is scheduled at Vallelunga from October 13 to 15.