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Chloe Chong scores first points in British F4

"There’s more in the bag and I am ready to give it my all for Brands Hatch.” - Chloe Chong had a learning weekend on her British F4 debut - and while a difficult qualifying hampered her results, she showcased outstanding pace in the second half of the races, proving that she has the potential to climb the field.

Abbi Pulling, Rodin Motorsport, British F4, 2024 Donington Park
Photo credits: Jakob Ebrey Photography

17-year-old Chloe Chong made her debut in British Formula 4 showing promising pace in both races, despite a difficult qualifying on Saturday ended up hampering her final results. Nevertheless, the young British-Canadian driver offered a glimpse of her potential and, as she continues to adapt to the series after her step up from F1 Academy, aims to continue her progression.

Chong became the youngest F1 Academy driver last year, when she stepped up from karting to the all-female championship in the series' inaugural season. Chong had already made global headlines at the FIA Girls On Track - Rising Stars selections, where she became one of the four finalists at the Fiorano test for FDA.

Joining Prema Racing in 2023, Chong's introduction to single seater racing was a competitive campaign in F1 Academy, where she conquered a top-6 at her very first car race and made big improvements throughout the year, finishing with a strong four-race scoring streak between Le Castellet and COTA as she built on her speed.

Aiming to build on those learnings, Chloe moved to the highly-competitive British F4 Championship in 2024, where she joined experienced team and former team champion JHR Developments, in a four car operation. Chong excelled in pre-season testing and collected experience on circuits where she had never driven before, as she got ready for her first national F4 season. The 22-car grid, in fact, features some of the most promising up-and-coming talents in single seaters in the world - and Chong often proved to hold her own, running close to the top ten.

At the season opener at Donington Park, Chloe aimed to progressively build speed and continue to adapt to the step up in competitiveness.

A small mistake in the first practice on Thursday meant that she couldn't make the most out of the new tyre, then a suspension failure in the second session limited her track time. Drivers returned to the track on Saturday morning for qualifying - which proved to be a tricky one for Chong.

“Qualifying didn’t quite go my way, but we learn from that", she explained. "I didn’t help myself by not warming up the tyres properly, but we are always looking forward."

Chloe set a 1:05.387 which placed her 18th fastest - albeit being just sixth tenths off overall pole position. Twenty-one cars were in fact covered by one second at the end of the tightly-contested session. Her 1:05.665 was also enough for P18 in the classification for the second-best laps that would shape the grid of race 1.

At lights out on Saturday afternoon, Deegan Fairclough took over the lead from third place, leapfrogging both James Higgins and Alex Ninovic. Chong had a good getaway but had to lift to avoid a car in front and dropped to P20, then traded positions with Nina Gademan.

While Fairclough checked out and opened a 5 second gap, the rest of the field remained compact and battles throughout saw several position changes. Chong battled elbows out with Yuhao Fu and Zack Scoular.

By mid-race, Chloe's pace switched on: the JHR Developments' driver was very consistent and continued to set personal bests: on lap 14, she clocked a 1:06.231 which was at that point on par with the top five. One lap later, she improved with a superb 1:05.875 - becoming the fastest driver on track at that moment. She closed in on Maxwell Dodds - and then picked up a position on August Raber when the latter went off.

The race was eventually red flagged with one minute to go and Deegan Fairclough took victory in the opening race of the weekend, preceding Higgins and Ninovic. While Chloe Chong took the chequered flag in P21, it was a result that wasn't representative of her race pace, which she proved to belong higher up the order.

"I had a good start to race one but a car ahead was a bit slow, so I had to lift off, though looking back at the video there was a gap, but again it’s something to learn from", Chloe reflected on the tricky start. "We struggled to find the pace but by the end of the race we were matching P1 for pace."

The racing program was then disrupted by heavy rain on Sunday morning, with all sessions being cancelled at Donington. Conditions remained extremely challenging in the early afternoon, but the track then dried relatively quickly and by the time the second British F4 race of the weekend was underway, it was fully dry.

This meant that there was no time for race 3, but the second race was postponed to late in the afternoon - featuring the partial reverse grid.

The top-12 inversion saw Joel Bergstrom starting from pole position, ahead of Yuanpu Cui. Just like in race 1, it was the driver starting from the third grid slot to fire into the lead at turn 1: Alex Berg preceded Hitech's Mika Abrahams, who made up three positions.

The safety car was soon deployed for an off track by Martin Molnar at the final chicane. Chloe was able to hold P18 over the first lap, although she would slip down to P19 on the restart.

Just like in the first race, Chong's pace came alive in the second half of the race; she made up a position mid-way through the race, then moved further up to P17 a lap later. She enjoyed a great battle with Fu, Raber and Gademan over the following laps, with drivers from third all the way down the order separated by tenths of a second.

The race leader Berg also hit trouble, as the Canadian received a track limits penalty - just like Abbi Pulling, who had meanwhile dropped to P15. At the chequered flag, Mika Abrahams inherited the victory, ahead of Fairclough - who leads the championship after the first round - and Sherwood. Chloe Chong made more steps forward and was P16, preceding Abbi Pulling and Nina Gademan across the line.

“I had a good launch for race two", Chloe summed up. "The first two laps were a bit rocky as I made some mistakes where I should have covered my position a bit more than I did. After the Safety Car I switched on and made some places, before I had a bit of an off, but that’s what happens when you’re pushing for lap time as it’s not just about the racing – I want to be fast as well."

"I set my fastest lap towards the end which shows there’s more in the bag and I am ready to give it my all for Brands Hatch.”

The two positions gained from the starting order gained Chong her first two points in the championship standings. Despite the rocky start of the weekend, Chong was able to turn it around with strong pace in the two races and, while results might not yet match her expectations, there's little doubt that she will reach her goals.

The ROKiT British Formula 4 Championship will host its second round of the season at Chloe's home track in Brands Hatch, on 11-12 May.



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