TRS Arden’s Oscar Piastri converted pole into victory for the second time this weekend at Snetterton in the British F4 Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost after a thrilling, race-long single-seater duel of the highest calibre with Carlin’s Logan Sargeant.
Piastri tried to break away from Sargeant in the opening laps, but to no avail as the American refused to let his fellow F4 UAE graduate escape his clutches. A captivating battle ensued between the two drivers who were never separated by much more than several tenths of a second for the majority of the race.
Sargeant put Piastri under immense pressure in his bid for a maiden Ford EcoBoost-powered victory. A pass looked most likely at Riches, but as his team-mate Ayrton Simmons had done to Sargeant in Round 16, Piastri defended resolutely. The Aussie soaked up the pressure with inch-perfect positioning of his car. The duo raced hard, but fair in an exemplary display of precision wheel-to-wheel racing which the F4 British Championship has become renowned for.
Said race winner Piastri: “I had to work so hard for that win. Logan kept me on my toes the whole time. I picked up my pace, but Logan was able to keep up with me so I’m glad to have held on to that win.
“Logan and I were quicker in different sectors of the track. I was quicker through the second sector, whereas Logan had the upper hand in the third sector. I just made sure I did everything I could to hold onto first place, positioning my car perfectly lap after lap.
“With Caroline finishing seventh I’ve managed to make up ground on him in the championship. So hopefully we can continue that at Knockhill and get even more wins.”
“I think I was the quickest driver on track and I pushed so hard for the win,” added Sargeant. “I put a lot of pressure on Oscar, but couldn’t quite find a way through.
“Oscar defended really well, but we’ll go away from here, analyse the race and work out what we can do better next time.
“I’m happy with car, happy with the team and happy with how I’m driving so I’m confident that at Knockhill we can make it onto the top step.
“We have been strong for many rounds now and I think it’s only a matter of time until I start winning races.”
Double R Racing’s Linus Lundqvist made a strong start to move up from fourth on the grid to third and looked on course to battle for the win along with Piastri and Lundqvist.
However, the Swedish single-seater champion encountered a technical problem several laps into the race which hampered his progress.
Like all top drivers do, Lundqvist found a way to manage the problem and adapted brilliantly to hold on to third. He was able to keep the squabbling duo ahead within his sights and even recorded the fastest lap of the race on the eighth tour of the Norfolk circuit.
“The start was a bit messy,” commented Lundqvist. “I made a bit of contact with Logan, but he managed to get out ahead so I don’t think it really had an impact on the race.
“On lap three or four I started encountering a technical problem. It’s hard to say whether if that hadn’t happened I could have challenged the two guys at the front. I guess we’ll never know!
“Nevertheless, I think I did very well to drive around the problem. Obviously I’m only ever satisfied when I win, but given the circumstances I’m pleased with this podium.
“Towards the end of the race I was able to adapt to the problem and actually record some very quick lap times.
“Looking ahead to Knockhill, it’s a track that Double R Racing did very well at last year so I think we can repeat that form in 2017. To finish on the podium and ahead of Caroline in two races this weekend is also positive for my title bid.”
Ayrton Simmons was forced down the order after contact at the start, but fought back brilliantly. The TRS Arden racer was a man on a mission, working his way up from seventh to fourth. The pick of his overtakes a daring move around the outside of team-mate Alex Quinn at Riches in the closing stages.
Behind the TRS Arden duo was Hampus Ericsson who recorded his best result in British F4 in sixth and in doing so claimed his first Ford F4 Challenge Cup win after passing rival Olli Caldwell.
“To get my first Ford F4 Challenge Cup win and stand on the top step feels great,“ said an ecstatic Ericsson. “It was a great race. I made a really good start and then had really good pace.
“I tried to stay calm at the start. The overtakes came when I became more aggressive as the race progressed and I could see that I could get the Challenge Cup win.
“I’m really happy to get my best result in British F4 with sixth and hopefully I can use it as a platform to get even better results during the rest of the season.”
Championship leader Jamie Caroline was unable to make the kind of progress he would have envisaged through the field from ninth on the grid and had to settle for seventh. Crucially passing Caldwell on the penultimate lap to bring home an additional two points which could make all the difference in the title fight.
Manuel Sulaiman brought home his second points finish of the weekend for JHR Developments in ninth, picking up several places having started 12th.
Meanwhile Johnathan Hoggard claimed the final point paying position and with it his first top 10 finish on what has been a frustrating debut weekend for the talented Fortec Motorsports racer. He just denied fellow British F4 debutant Sam Smelt a maiden point score in 11th.
The 2017 F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost title race heads to Knockhill in a fortnight’s time (12/13 August) in what will be a blockbuster weekend for the series. Four races are scheduled to take place due to the Round 12 of the Championship being moved to Knockhill due to delays in the schedule at Oulton Park earlier in the year.
Provisional championship standings
1 Caroline 273 points;
2 Piastri 226.5;
3 Lundqvist 192.5;
4 Sargeant 176;
5 Quinn 174;
6 York 124.5;
7 Simmons 119.5;
8 Pasma 110.5;
9 Webb 52;
10 Massaad 47