In another fascinating weekend in the world of F4 UAE, the drama did not disappoint even if the racing did. This weekend was plagued with safety cars. But there is a new championship leader and a brand-new race winner so let’s go through the five takeaways from round three of F4 UAE.
By Charlie Parker
Did no one inform the drivers of the red flag rules?
In the final race of the weekend, a three-car collision between Anshul Gandhi, Vladislav Ryabov and Victoria Blokhina brought out the red flag. The drivers were okay.
Alex Dunne, who was leading at the time, went straight to the starting grid and parked it on the pole position grid spot. Andrea Kimi Antonelli went into the pit lane and everybody followed him.
According to the regulations, the field must make their way to the grid after a red flag. Dunne was the only driver to follow the rules. A lengthy delay to clear the cars later, it was announced all cars, bar Dunne, must report to the race stewards after the race for failing to follow red flag procedure.
The race restarted as everyone joined up behind Dunne and the safety car, but on a second lap behind the safety car, all drivers, barring Dunne, received a five second penalty. Antonelli did pass Dunne on track once we got racing again but could only pull out a two second gap, giving Hitech GP their first win of the season.
This begs the question of, were the drivers informed of this rule before? Or is this a once in a blue moon situation that they couldn’t have known? We may never know.
Aiden Neate takes championship lead by just one point
In a literal over the finishing line change, Neate takes the championship lead away from Charlie Wurz by just one point. Neate, claiming the final podium spot, picked up 15 points in the final race while Wurz dropped from seventh to ninth on the final straight meaning he only picked up two points, allowing the Brit to snatch the lead.
It looks like these two will be the two protagonists for this year’s championship as they sit 22 points ahead of Tasanapol Inthraphuvasak, who lost ground with a trio of sixth place and an eighth-place finish, with just two rounds to go. With the next closest driver participating in the upcoming rounds being Nikita Bedrin on 101 points, 43 points behind.
Neate is always the bridesmaid and never the bride
Despite leading the championship, the British driver has not won a race. In fact, Neate has finished second in one third of the races so far in the championship. There was the infamous three thousandths loss at Yas Marina in the very first race of the season. Neate then finished second in the very next race.
In round two at Dubai, he finished second in the second race and then finished second in the third race this weekend. The Prema driver has yet to get over the hump, and he will need to if he wants to beat Wurz to the title.
Rafael Camara makes up for lost time with two wins
The Brazilian driver was meant to do a full slate, but illness kept him out of round one. Round two didn’t bear much fruit either with one third place finish surrounded by a ninth, 12th and 17th. But this weekend, Camara turned it up a gear. Pole position in qualifying two with wins in race one and race three has stabilised the Prema driver’s season.
Camara will have to hope his fellow Prema drivers, and also Inthraphuvasak, slip up as he is quite a bit behind the leaders, it will be interesting to see how close he can get.
PHM putting in consistently good results
PHM Racing are continuing to prove that they are a legitimate team with another successful weekend. Specifically, Bedrin had a great weekend. Two second place finishes along with a seventh and a sixth has put him in the same area as Camara in the championship.
Taylor Barnard will feel unlucky not to have scored more points this weekend as the British driver was collected in other drivers incidents while fighting for points. Only a seventh-place finish will be seen as a disappointment for PHM Racing.
Header photo credit: Prema Racing