A fantastic photo finish: 3 Takeaways from ADAC F4 at Zandvoort

It is easy to assume that with another round of dominance from Andrea Kimi Antonelli, there was little in the way of excitement at the third round of the ADAC F4 season. However, there were moments of magic from some of the series’ unsung heroes whilst some familiar names were absent. We draw our conclusions from the event.

By Alexander Studenkov

Laursen stays cool under pressure

Following his maiden podium finish in Italian F4 at Spa, Conrad Laursen would have arrived to the Netherlands with increased confidence. This was proven by the first race of the weekend, one in which he overtook teammate James Wharton at the start on his way to another podium.

What came on Sunday, however, must have gone beyond the Dane’s wildest dreams. Having started and finished in seventh place in Race 2 – which, for a Prema driver, is relatively disappointing – Laursen received a shot at victory thanks to the reversing of the top eight for Race 3’s grid. He capitalised on a mistake from poleman Emerson Fittipaldi Jr to take over the lead at Turn 8 and managed the majority of the race, fending off PHM Racing’s Taylor Barnard on two safety car restarts.

Laursen’s situation became significantly trickier with five minutes to go, when championship leader Antonelli passed Barnard and set his sights on another victory. Considering the ease with which the Italian had dispatched his previous opponents, Laursen had to put up a defensive masterclass to stay in front.

He did just that, holding Antonelli behind for two whole laps and crossing the line a mere 58 hundredths of a second ahead of his teammate. Laursen thus moved into third place in the championship, finally shaking off a 2021 season with no podiums and returning to the Laursen who became Danish F4 champion in 2020.

The Empire strikes… again!

Less than a tenth separated Antonelli from victory in Race 3, a victory that would have given him his second ADAC F4 triple in a row. Alas, he had to make do with two wins and a second place at Zandvoort, which is still mightily impressive no matter the circumstances. Considering that the Italian had to start from eighth in Race 3 because of the reverse format, his rise through the pack was all the more impressive.

Antonelli’s performances keep coming with a level of metronomic consistency that makes one run out of superlatives. Even though it is as yet unclear whether he, and by extension Prema, will complete the rest of the ADAC F4 season, he has enough of a cushion over his competitors that he could win the title without competing in half of the campaign. That alone is, for lack of a better term, frightening.

A bleak outlook for Round 4…

Though there was a seemingly healthy grid size of 19 cars at Zandvoort, there is reason to believe that the rest of this ADAC F4 season could be marred by a lack of entries for the remaining three rounds.

Starting off, German teams US Racing and BWR Motorsports did not attend Zandvoort. The former’s absence came as a shock given that the Kerpen-based team has been a staple of the series throughout its existence, even winning the 2018 and 2019 championships.

Their non-attendance pales in comparison to what is heavily rumoured to come. F1 Feeder Series learned that before the start of the season, Prema Racing and Iron Dames had planned to contest only the first half of the campaign, focusing on their Italian F4 duties just as in previous years. However, the high probability of a title win for Antonelli and the runner-up spot for Rafael Câmara could mean that the pair will remain in the series for the rest of the season.

Van Amersfoort Racing are another team scheduled to be absent for the next event at the Nürburgring, with their drivers considering their chances of competing there to be low.

Without all of these entries and with no new faces set to replace them, the entry list for Round 4 would have only the PHM and Jenzer drivers as well as Michael Sauter’s privateer entry. This would mean that only eight entrants would take part, a record low for a series that has lost serious ground to its Italian rival.

Header photo credit: ADAC F4

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