Prema-Prema-Prema triple: 5 takeaways from ADAC F4 Round 1 at Spa

After many late driver confirmations and team withdrawals, ADAC F4 got underway in Belgium. Administrative mistakes, hard battles and a certain Italian team were at the centre of it all, as we take a look at our five takeaways from the weekend.

By Alexander Studenkov

Prema is more than dominant

Following a season in which the Italian outfit only scored a total of two victories across their Formula 4 campaigns, Prema came back with a point to prove. Having shown that they were the quickest to adapt to the new Tatuus F4 T-021 chassis in F4 UAE this winter, winning the teams’ title alongside the drivers’ crown with Charlie Wurz, the team filled out eight of the nine podium positions on the Spa weekend. Every one of their drivers bagged at least one podium and Rafael Câmara took the rookie victory in all races.

With one-twos in races 1 and 2 and a 48-point gap to their nearest rivals in the teams’ standings Prema are back – and stronger than ever before.

Rafael Camara
ADAC F4, Spa 2022, Rafael Camara (Prema) | Credit: ADAC F4

Antonelli and Câmara rule the roost

The Prema pairing took all three victories for themselves, with Andrea Kimi Antonelli dominating races one and two from pole position, finishing eleven seconds ahead of his Brazilian teammate in the latter. Câmara did prove however that he can outmatch the Italian, winning from seventh in the reversed-grid race on Sunday, whilst Antonelli missed out on the podium by mere tenths.

Both were only split by one point at the conclusion of this round, although they have already built up a huge margin to the other Prema drivers.

Polish podium – Sztuka can challenge near the front 

After not scoring any points throughout his first F4 season in 2021 Kacper Sztuka joined US Racing in the hope that he could tick that mark as soon as possible. He did more than that, scoring a podium in race 3 after a top-five finish the day before, being much improved from last year.

The Pole outperformed stablemate Marcus Amand across the weekend despite not even taking part in race 1. All in all, a good season opener for the man from Cieszyn.

Kacper Sztuka (US Racing) at Spa | Credit: ADAC F4

PHM Racing are not at Prema’s level yet

One of the surprises of this year’s F4 UAE Championship, the German non-profit team went into the weekend with three race wins already under their belt, but despite keeping the same drivers from this winter PHM could not deliver more than a fifth place for Nikita Bedrin in race 2.

Aside from the lack of pace compared to their Italian opponents, which could be put down to their lack of experience at European tracks, a first-corner collision between teammates Taylor Barnard and Jonas Ried cost them a myriad of points. Team owner Paul Müller and team manager Roland Rehfeld certainly have to put in more work to improve the squad’s performances before the next round at Hockenheim.

Organisational shenanigans continue to cause a mess

Despite the seemingly healthy grid of 21 cars there could have been more, although issues with organisation and administration prevented more drivers from turning up.

BWR Motorsports’s Rishab Jain, who was supposed to complete the team’s three-car line-up, had rented a car from a team in Spain which, due to a miscommunication with their management, was sent back to Spain before the Singaporean had the chance to race in it. Jain himself called the situation a “bad mistake”, and did not attribute the blame towards anyone.

Another withdrawal, albeit one that was more high-profile, last year’s champions Van Amersfoort Racing called off their five-car entry into this round due to “the late delivery of cars […] [causing] a serious lack of preparation time”, with CEO Rob Niessink stating: “Receiving partial cars and parts at the actual event, leaving only hours to build them, simply does not fit our safety protocols”.

This has caused the team to further consider their participation in Formula 4 for this year.

Aside from that, word from industry staff suggested that two further teams were close to dropping out, which would have put the entire championship at risk of losing eligibility for FIA Super Licence points: a risk that was thankfully avoided.

Header photo credit: ADAC F4

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