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  • Writer's pictureVIVIEN STREBELOW

Ella Lloyd makes highly promising F4 debut at Aragon

Ella Lloyd had an impressive debut in F4, twice climbing the top of the female trophy class and gaining several positions over the weekend with charges through the 38-car field to secure an overall top-20 from last. Bianca Bustamante and Lia Block battled with bad luck during the three races in Aragon, as well as Carrie Schreiner - out of the weekend after a big accident at the start of race 1.

Ella Lloyd, Rodin Motorsport, Formula Winter Series, 2024 Aragon
Photo by: Daniel Bürgin

The third round of the 2024 Formula Winter Series season was held at Motorland Aragon for again three action packed races - and four female drivers on the grid. While Bianca Bustamante, Carrie Schreiner and Lia Block returned to the series after previous appearances, Ella Lloyd made her debut in Formula 4 machinery - and she did so with a highly promising performance that saw the young Welsh racer stepping twice on top of the podium in the Female Trophy class.

The qualifying sessions posed again some challenges for the 38 car field, with many lap times being deleted due to track limits.

While Keanu Al Azhari (MP Motorsport) was fastest in Q1 ahead of Jack Beeton (US Racing) and Andrés Cardenas (Campos Racing) it would be James Egozi (Campos Racing) to end on top in Q2 ahead of Al Azhari and Juan Cota (Drivex).

Throughout the weekend, Lia Block had shown great improvements in practice and was consistently moving up the order and towards the mid-pack. In Q1, Block impressed again and was the top of the female drivers in P26, ahead of Carrie Schreiner and Bianca Bustamante in P27 and 28. Ella Lloyd unfortunately saw her times being deleted after causing a red flag - and she would have to start from the back of the pack, in a very tricky situation that now saw almost 40 cars ahead of her Rodin Motorsport machine.

In second qualifying, Bustamante finished in 22nd place with Schreiner right behind in P23. Lloyd qualified in 28th position followed by Block in P32.

Bustamante had been struggling with an engine issue throughout the previous round in Valencia, where she was lacking over 5kph on the straights. The issue was eventually solved at Aragon with an engine change - but this would force the Filipina star to start from the pit lane in both race 1 and 2.

Lia Block, GRS Team, Formula Winter Series, 2024 Aragon
Photo by: Daniel Bürgin

Race 1 was off to a dramatic start as Maicej Gladysz (MP Motorsport) stalled on the grid from P5 and both Ernesto Rivera and Carrie Schreiner (Campos Racing) couldn't avoid the standing car and crashed heavily into him. All three drivers were luckily not injured after the accident that red flagged the race. Schreiner's car, though, was so damaged that her weekend was sadly over.

"Unfortunately, I had a serious accident at the start of the first race", said Schreiner. "We we’re lucky that nobody got hurt, but my chassis couldn’t be repaired on site. That was the end of my race weekend. Too bad - I was highly motivated to have a good result in race 2 & 3."

After the track was cleared again, the race resumed behind the Safety Car. Al Azhari and Beeton led the pack, while Cardenas spun and dropped back.

The race ended early with another red flag - as Nathanael Berreby (Maffi Racing) spun and got stuck in the gravel. Al Azhari won ahead of Beeton and Gianmarco Pradel (US Racing).

Ella Lloyd was one of the protagonists of the race, as she put on an impressive recovery: with great pace, she made several passes and made the most of the chaotic stages, avoiding trouble and eventually finishing as the top female in P21 to secure the lady's trophy in her first ever Formula 4 race.

Lia Block had a great start and was eyeing a strong finish, but struggled more in the second half of the race and, having lost a few positions, she was handed two track limit penalties that demoted her to 30th position, having nevertheless showed a good improvement in only her third weekend in formula cars.

Bianca Bustamante started from the pitlane after the engine change. An issue meant that she could only take the start one lap down, and ran a lonely race to finish in P25, having nevertheless ran competitive laps in clear air.

Ella Lloyd, Rodin Motorsport, Formula Winter Series, 2024 Aragon
Photo by: Daniel Bürgin

Race 2 was interrupted by three Safety Cars - with the first one already out on lap 1, when Finn Harrison (Campos Racing) and René Lammers made contact. Meanwhile, Al Azhari led the field ahead of Beeton and Cardenas.

On lap 3, the race went green again and Al Azhari kept in the lead - but another neutralization bunched up the field again when Egozi and Cardenas collided.

This time Beeton passed Al Azhari at the restart - and the MP Motorsport driver held on until Francisco Macedo (DriveX) collided with Lucas Fluxá (F4MP Motorsport) and brought out the third Safety Car of the race.

Shortly before the end the race, the green flag waved again and Beeton and Al Azhari battled hard for the lead, with both eventually making contact, which allowed Thomas Strauven (Rodin Motorsport) to go through for the lead and snatch the victory.

Ella Lloyd continued her extraordinary debut, making up 16 places during the race to finish 22nd and earning again the female trophy of the race. She was then promoted to 20th after penalties were applied - therefore resulting in her first top-20 on debut.

"After a tricky start in qualifying 1 due to mechanical issues put us on the back foot for qualifying 2, but we got our head down gaining 16 places in race 1 and achieving 1st female podium!" - Ella summed up.

Lia Block was sent to the back of the starting grid for having fitted wheels on after the 3 minute board; she had another good start and was battling in the midfield but hit trouble in the early stages of the race as she was sent into a spin - but managed to recover places during the race to finish in P26.

Again from the back of the pack, Bianca Bustamante was the protagonist of a strong race: the McLaren junior had made her way up the order and into the top-20, but she was hit by another driver on the final lap of the race and ultimately taken out with a few corners to go.

She was classified in P29 - but her recovery drive had actually highlighted her speed and racecraft, as she had managed to navigate the field during the green flag laps.

Bianca Bustamante, GRS Team, Formula Winter Series, 2024 Aragon
Photo by: Daniel Bürgin

In the last race of the weekend, Egozi started from pole and defended his top spot against Al Azhari - who had to look back into his mirrors from the charging Juan Cota (DriveX): they would make contact just as the Safety Car was being deployed for an incident involving Fluxá who got stuck in the gravel.

Egozi was able to stay ahead of Beeton - who followed closely - and he defend his leading position until another Safety Car phase interrupted the race action to recover the cars of Enzo Tarnvanichkul (Campos Racing) and Lia Block, who had unfortunately collided in turn 14.

The race resumed for one last lap, but Egozi brought it home to secure his first victory ahead of Beeton and Pradel.

Bianca Bustamante could finally showcase her pace in a cleaner third contest; she avoided the chaos and skillfully completed good passes, climbing again into the top-20. The Filipina made up five positions from her starting place and took the chequered flag in P17, thus earning her first female trophy of the weekend.

Ella Lloyd was forced to complete another recovery drive, as a first lap contact meant that the Welsh teenager pitted for a new front wing early on. From there, Lloyd was on a mission and, showing great pace and determination in the battles despite her limited experience of formula cars, she finishing just outside the top-20, in a P22 that ended a highly impressive debut weekend for the 2023 Ginetta GT5 championship vice-champion.

"Amazing first weekend in single seaters full of ups and downs but gaining lots of experience behind the wheel and coming away with 2 podiums, can’t wait to do it all again this weekend at Barcelona!" - said Ella Lloyd at the end of a superb weekend.

Lia Block has worked hard onher progress and, in just a few weekends in racing conditions, she has earned experience in single seater that will be crucial ahead of the upcoming Formula 1 Academy season, where she will represent Williams in a ART Grand Prix entry.

The next and final round of the Formula Winter Series will take place this weekend at Barcelona Circuit de Catalunya. Bianca Bustamante, Lia Block and Carrie Schreiner will head to Jeddah to start their first race of the F1 Academy season, but Ella Lloyd will be back for another weekend of racing and learning opportunities in Spain.

Ella Lloyd, Rodin Motorsport, Formula Winter Series, 2024 Aragon
Photo by: Daniel Bürgin



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