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Doriane Pin straight in the points in F4 UAE debut, Schreiner gains positions in Abu Dhabi

Among one of the most competitive F4 fields, Doriane Pin impressed once again with front-running pace and two-top ten finishes - including a sixth place in race 3 - at her debut in F4 UAE. At the first championship round in Abu Dhabi, Sauber junior Carrie Schreiner had great starts and gained 16 places across the weekend despite battling with the aftermath of a debilitating illness. With a new team, on a new track and on tyres she had never driven on, Aurelia Nobels had a clean learning weekend and made up positions on Sunday's races.

Doriane Pin, Prema Racing, F4 UAE Championship, Abu Dhabi 2024
Photo by: F4 UAE

Following the traditional non-championship round at Yas Marina held in support of the 2023 F1 season finale in Abu Dhabi, the UAE-based F4 championship contested the first points-paying triple-header on the same track. Four female drivers were on the grid of the Trophy Round - the Al Qubaisi sisters, fellow F1 Academy racer Jessica Edgar and F4 rookie Laura Villars. In the first championship round, three women would be taking the start of the series that traditionally opens the motorsport calendar year: Doriane Pin (Prema Racing), Carrie Schreiner (AGI Sport) and Ferrari Driver Academy's Aurelia Nobels (Saintéloc Racing).

Pin, who just turned 20, entered only her third race weekend at the wheel of a F4 machine, having previously focused her career in GT and sports car racing. In 2023, in fact, the Frenchwoman impressed with a stellar rookie season in LMP2 prototypes and was elected rookie of the year in the FIA World Endurance Championship, where she secured a podium finish in her first ever race. As part of the Iron Dames team, she had already stepped at the top of the podium in the 24 Hours of Spa in GT3, and in the 4H of Portimao in GTE - playing a crucial role in the team's first victories in endurance racing.

Mid-way through the season, Pin started testing in F4 - and would make her first ever single seater start in December, for the final two rounds of the revived Formula 4 South East Asia championship. At Sepang, Doriane made big improvements and took her first podium, then won her first race at the closing round - which eventually led to the Prema driver finishing second in the championship standings despite having missed the first three races at Zhuzhou International Circuit.

Pin returned to Prema for the start of the F4 UAE Championship - widely considered as one of the most competitive F4 fields in the world as top young drivers from all over the world traditionally gather in the warm winter of the Emirates to prepare their European campaigns. On the high-quality 33 car field, Pin was joined by F1 Academy race winner Carrie Schreiner, who had just been confirmed for the second consecutive year in the all-female series promoted by F1. Schreiner, 25, will in fact join the Sauber Academy and will represent the Swiss team's colours in 2024, in a Campos Racing seat.

Carrie Schreiner, AGI Sport, F4 UAE Championship, 2024 Abu Dhabi
Photo by: F4 UAE

Just like Pin, Schreiner focused most of her career on GT racing - also with remarkable results in some of the most prestigious sports car series in Europe. The GT3 specialist then returned to F4 last year, breaking a 7 year hiatus from single seaters. The German re-adapted quickly and was a consistent point-scorer, also clinching her first win at the Zandvoort round.

FDA-supported Aurelia Nobels is also laying the foundations for her upcoming season in F4, after contesting the Italian F4 championship and the Euro4 Series in 2023. The Brazilian - who won the Girls on Track selections in 2022 - had a positive progression in her first European season, often coming close to a top-10 and running steadily in the midfield despite sitting out a couple of races due to wrist injuries.

Moving from Prema to Saintéloc, Nobels had some new challenges to face - such as a track she had never raced on, with a new team and with new tyres: the F4 UAE series in fact runs on Giti Tire instead of the Pirelli used in Italian and Euro F4.

"We knew it would be very challenging with a new track, new team, different tyres. I’m struggling with the feeling of the tyres and set up in such a demanding track like Abu Dhabi.", Aurelia commented after the two-day test
that preceded the race meeting.

"It will take time, I’m here to learn and prepare in the best way possible for my European campaign. We know we have the speed and the potential and we’ll get there. We just need to trust the process."

Aurelia Nobels, Saintéloc Racing, F4 UAE, 2024 Abu Dhabi
Photo by: F4 UAE

On Wednesday and Thursday, three sessions per day were held and drivers had the chance to run on both the Abu Dhabi track configurations that they will be competing on during the season. Doriane Pin had a superb start of the weekend, consistently running within the top ten - possibly also capitalizing on her previous experience of the Giti tyres from her F4 SEA outings.

As she would later reveal, Schreiner was coming off a debilitating illness in the weeks previous to the start of round, and she would have to fight through the weekend rather than pursue pure performance: "Before I came to Abu Dhabi, I had been struggling with the after-effects of a severe covid-19 infection for a few weeks", she wrote. "So my goal was to survive and learn as much as possible in this strong field of 35 cars."

On Saturday, the first qualifying of the season saw local driver Keanu Al Azhari (Yas Heats Racing Academy) taking pole position ahead of race 1, preceding the five-car Mumbai Falcons line up - with Kean Nakamura Berta leading teammates Freddie Slater, Alex Powell and Dion Gowda. With a spectacular session, Doriane Pin was eighth fastest in Q1, 0.7 seconds adrift pole position - at only her third ever F4 entry. She continued to impress in Q2, again securing a top-10 start for the race 3 grid.

Al Azhari topped the second session as well - this time sharing the front row with Slater. Al Dhaheri and Bedrin followed. Carrie Schreiner - who had shown good speed in testing - didn't get to show the same pace in qualifying and will have some ground to make up in the races from P30 and P31. Similarly, Nobels qualified in P28 and P29.

Doriane Pin, Prema Racing, F4 UAE, 2024 Abu Dhabi
Photo by: F4 UAE

Race 1

From pole, home-hero Al Azhari had an awful getaway and was passed by the three Mumbai Falcons cars of Nakamura Berta, Slater and Powell, while Stilp was protagonist of a very evident jump start. A stellar start for Schreiner saw the Sauber junior jump from P31 to P24, while Nobels was less fortunate and dropped to 30th.

Pin battled in the top ten and had a strong start, although she would settle in ninth place after one lap, battling with Gowda, Stilp and Bedrin. Ahead, Al Azhari was able to recover to second place after the challenging launch, but now had 1.5 seconds to close in order to catch karting star Nakamura Berta. Following in sixth, Al Dhaheri was under pressure from Fairclough and Gowda - and the Emirati lost the position to the British F4 front-runner.

Schreiner held a competitive P26, fighting in a big group of cars all separated by tenths of a second. The German lost a place to Kamal Mrad on lap 8, but continued to battle hard ahead of Liu, Popov and Nobels. One lap later, Schreiner responded and claimed back P26.

Pin was putting heavy pressure on Stilp, who had received a 10 second penalty for the jump start, but whose pace was holding up the Iron Dame. She therefore also had to watch her mirrors from F3 driver Nikita Bedrin, eyeing an important position for a potential race two reverse grid pole. Pin recorded her personal best on lap 12 and then completed a spectacular move in the hotel section to overtake Stilp. In free air, Doriane soon pulled away and left Bedrin fighting Stilp, one and a half second behind.

Two seconds per lap faster than Fairclough, Pin immediately caught the Briton but ran out of time to attempt a pass.

Kean Nakamura Berta took a convincing victory in race 1, over 5 seconds ahead of Keanu Al Azhari and Freddie Slater. Alex Powell and Rashid Al Dhaheri completed the top five.

With eighth in the first race of the weekend, Doriane Pin continued to impress and kept behind way more experienced drivers in F4 machinery.

Carrie Schreiner had a solid run to P28, gaining three spots from the start despite losing two places in the closing laps. Aurelia Nobels was P32.

Aurelia Nobels, Santéloc Racing, F4 UAE, 2024 Abu Dhabi
Photo by: F4 UAE
Race 2

Due to the top-12 finishers from the first race being reversed to shape the grid of Race 2, Doriane Pin had another chance to improve with a start from fifth place, on the third row. Schreiner was 28th on the grid, two rows ahead of Aurelia Nobels in P32.

Jack Beeton lined up on reverse grid pole alongside Matteo Quintarelli - but it would be Nikita Bedrin to make the most progress, advancing to second place behind Beeton. Doriane Pin struggled a bit off the line and lost a couple of spots to Al Dhaheri and Slater - as the Mumbai Falcons cars went wide at the exit of turn 8 and drifted down the order. Schreiner had another stellar start and gained six places to slot into P22; Nobels was also moving up the order and completed the first lap in P30.

On lap 4, Pin attacked Al Dhaheri at the Corkscrew - but the battle gave Al Azhari the chance to leapfrog the Frenchwoman, who then had to defend from race 1 winner Nakamura Berta, Alex Powell and Jules Caranta. Pin outbraked her opponents at turn 6 and managed to hold position. Further down the order, Aurelia Nobels overtook Yevan David and Shun Kai Liu to move up to 27th.

Raphael Narac's accident at turn 15 brought out the first Safety Car of the F4 UAE season on lap 6; the R-ace GP car was cleared and the race was back underway with 9 minutes to go. Beeton had to defend from Bedrin as the latter had a perfect restart; Quintarelli and Fairclough also battled just behind, with the Briton eventually grabbing third. Pin controlled the restart but then lost out to Nakamura Berta, Stilp and Scoular following a contact on lap 10, which demoted the Prema driver for the first time outside the top ten.

Carrie Schreiner, on the other hand, was making good progress and moved up to P21 after passing Sammalisto - and Aurelia Nobels climbed the field as well, following in 25th.

A contact between Keanu Al Azhari and Kean Nakamura Berta in the hotel section resulted in the Emirati picking up rear suspension damage - but the race continued under double yellow. Now struggling for tyres, Beeton lost the lead to Bedrin after the latter made a move stick at turn 6 on the penultimate lap - and Fairclough followed through. Bedrin won for PHM Racing, ahead of Fairclough, Beeton, Slater and Quintarelli - separated by 0.027 across the line.

Doriane Pin further collected experience in the wheel to wheel battles and was P12 across the line, although she would receive a 10 second penalty for the contact and was classified P20. Schreiner completed another very solid recovery with P23 from 28th on the grid, ahead of Aurelia Nobels in 25th, who gained 7 places.

Doriane Pin, Prema Racing, F4 UAE, 2024 Abu Dhabi
Photo by: F4 UAE
Race 3

The third and final race of the weekend around the 4.572 km "Corkscrew" layout of Abu Dhabi saw Al-Azhari duelling with Slater at the start: the two drivers entered the first corner side by side but it would be the home racer to keep the top spot - although by going wide onto the runoff - with Al Dhaheri and Bedrin following. An accident at the back of the pack took Maximiliano Restrepo and Everett Stack out of contention and triggered the safety car at the end of the first lap.

From tenth on the grid, Doriane Pin moved up one position at the start, while Carrie Schreiner was again one of the top gainers, making up four positions.

A race direction order swapped positions at the top between Al Azhari and Slater, after it was confirmed that the Yas Heats driver had made the pass outside of track limits at turn 1.

The race resumed on lap 3 and Slater tried to break the tow to Al Azhari; Doriane Pin was under pressure from Gabriel Stilp and she had to settle in 10th at the end of the following lap. Pin tried to respond back with a purple sector 1 - and waited for the best chance to attack, as Stilp fought Gowda. The opportunity did come when Stilp and Gowda made contact at turn 1 and Pin snatched seventh.

A bit further ahead, Al Dhaheri, Fairclough and Bedrin traded positions for third in another very exciting battle which saw Al Dhaheri eventually retaining third.

Schreiner held P26, one place ahead of Nobels, as positions settled. Both gained a position when Kai Daryanani dropped down the order in the closing stages and the safety car was deployed; with less than one minute left on the clock, Freddie Slater took victory of the final race of the weekend, ahead of Keanu Al Azhari and Rashid Al Dhaheri, while Deagen Fairclough and Kean Nakamura Berta rounded out the top five.

Initially seventh, Doriane Pin was promoted to sixth due to a penalty for Powell; she therefore claimed her best result of the season so far, adding a second top-10 finish out of three races in a star-studded F4 field.

"Lots of positives and experiences to build on", Pin commented. "Looking forward to Round 2 next week!"

Carrie Schreiner's amazing efforts meant that the Sauber junior made up 8 places to finish P23 in race 3 - equalling her personal best of the weekend. Carrie was particularly impressive in the race starts, where she gained a total of 17 places across the weekend on the first lap, 16 from start to finish.

"It was really tough at times, but I achieved this goal and was able to overtake many cars in all three races", Carrie concluded. "Now I can recover for a few days so that I can really attack next weekend."

Aurelia Nobels continued to adapt to the new tyre, team and track and had a clean weekend with a P25 to wrap up the first round. The Brazilian was steadily in the pack and made up positions in both the Sunday's races despite a challenging qualifying on Saturday.

Freddie Slater now leads the championship standings with 52 points, 13 ahead of Kean Nakamura Berta. Having scored 12 points, Doriane Pin now sits in 10th place in the drivers' standings. A second round at Yas Marina - this time on the Grand Prix layout - is scheduled for next weekend, on 19-21 January.

Carrie Schreiner, AGI Sport, F4 UAE, 2024 Abu Dhabi
Photo by: F4 UAE



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