Euro4: Nobels close to the top-10, Hausmann seals Female Trophy title
At the final round of the Euro 4 Championship, Tina Hausmann secured the Female Trophy title and a sixth place among the rookies in race 2. Aurelia Nobels had a particularly positive round at Barcelona, consistently running just outside the top 10 and equalling her best finish of the season with P11 in race 2.
The busy 2023 continental Formula 4 season has come to an end with the final round of the Euro 4 Championship, just one week after the final meeting of the Italian F4 season. Two female drivers have entered both series - Ferrari Driver Academy member Aurelia as well as racecar rookie Tina Hausmann - and have shown remarkable improvement through the season, collecting valuable experience as well as some promising results. At the Euro 4 season finale in Barcelona, Hausmann and Nobels wrapped up their campaigns with a positive weekend, which saw both drivers getting close to the top ten in a slightly shorter grid compared to the massive Italian F4 field. The series - at its inaugural year - is designed to be the European title for Formula 4 competitions and also features a Female Trophy classification. After rounds in Mugello and Monza, the three-event series headed to Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, for the title showdown. Just one week before, Tina Hausmann and Aurelia Nobels had tackled the Vallelunga circuit: the Brazilian driver had claimed three class wins, while 17 year old Hausmann claimed the Female Trophy title, beating Victoria Blokhina at the final race on a dropped score. Racing for AKM Motorsport, Hausmann has had a very positive campaign and established herself as one of the most promising female up-and-coming talents in single seaters. Limited experience of the Barcelona track, though, meant that the Swiss driver used the practice sessions to get up to speed with the track. Nobels, in her first year with Prema and in European competitions after a year in the Brazilian F4 and one off appearances in the Danish series as well as in the Spanish F4, soon proved to have pace to fight for positions around the top ten. Both drivers were close to scoring their first points on several occasions during the season. In a particularly positive second practice, Nobels was 12th fastest, barely a second off pace setter Akshay Bohra. The whole field was separated by 1.8 seconds. In Q1, Nobels carried momentum and qualified in P13, setting a 1:42.477 that put her on the sixth row alongside Riuiqi Liu. Hausmann was 17th fastest, and the top of the AKM squad. Nicola Lacorte lost his lap times due to a faulty radio and, having taken the chequered flag twice, he was dropped to the back - therefore promoting both Aurelia and Tina to 12th and 16th respectively. In the second qualifying session, Nobels would start from 15th and Hausmann from 18th on the grid of race 3.
A messy start at the beginning of race 1 saw several cars taking the escape road at turn 1, including two Premas that had to go around the bollard at turn 2 to rejoin. Nevertheless, James Wharton had managed to snatch the first place from pole sitter Akshay Bohra, followed by the US Racing driver and the two Premas of Tuukka Taponen and Arvid Lindblad. Nobels had a tricky start and dropped to P14, with also Hausmann falling to 17th. Positions settled and while most of the pack followed each other at a close distance, drivers struggled to find a gap to overtake on a circuit which is traditionally difficult to pass on. Nevertheless, Hausmann was faster than her AKM Motorsport's teammate Diego De La Torre and overtook the Mexican on lap 4. Hausmann, a few tenths faster, then opened a gap and tried to close in on Giacomo Pedrini. Similarly, Nobels had good pace and kept closing in on Frederick Lund for most of the race. On lap 12, the Ferrari Driver Academy driver passed Lund for 13th place, then kept up the pace and caught up with Van Amersfoort's Lin Hodenius. Nobels would spend the remaining laps glued to the back of Hodenius' car, and while she attempted a last lap move, she ultimately had to settle for 13th after an overall positive race pace wise. Tina Hausmann also improved her lap times and was under the one second gap to Pedrini, but crossed the finish line in P16. Nobels and Hausmann were two of the only four drivers throughout the race to improve their position. Wharton was never under threat and claimed victory from Bohra and Taponen - but both the Prema drivers were subsequently penalized for the turn one incident and the win went to Bohra. Lindblad was promoted to second and Ugochukwu was fourth, behind Wharton and ahead of Taponen after penalties were applied.
It was another Wharton vs Bohra duel at the start: Wharton led the pack, as Lindblad also attacked Bohra but then was off in the gravel at turn 4. Pradel and Pedrini then collided on lap 2 and the SC was deployed. From 18th on the grid, Hausmann had a stellar start and slotted into P13 after the neutralization, followed by Nobels in P14. The Brazilian had gained one position from the start. The race resumed with 20 minutes to go and a contact between Rashid Al Dhaheri and Freddie Slater cost the front wing to the Emirati; both dropped down the order and Hausmann and Nobels further closed in on the top ten. Tina lost P11 to the recovering Lindblad, who had dropped all the way down after the first lap. Meanwhile, Nobels had great pace and found a way past Hausmann on lap 8, moving up to 12th with a little over 10 minutes to go. The Brazilian had pace for the top ten and, several tenths a second faster than teammate Lindblad, Aurelia closed in on the Red Bull junior but wasn't eventually able to make a move for P11. Hausmann struggled a bit more for pace in the second half of the race but still secured a positive P13, again fastest of the AKM Motorsport team. The result gained the Swiss driver sixth place among the rookies and 8 points in the rookie's standings. James Wharton bagged the win in race 2, preceding Akshay Bohra and Ugo Ugochuwku - as the latter made a move stick for the last podium spot in the closing stages, passing Taponen. Bohra this time ended with a post race penalty and lost the podium. Van Amersfoort Racing's Lin Hodenius also received a penalty, which moved Aurelia Nobels up to P11. Aurelia's eleventh place was her personal best in Euro 4 Championship and equalled her best of the season of 11th at Imola in the first round of the year at Imola.
The final race of the 2023 European season saw Aurelia Nobels starting from P16 and Tina Hausmann from P18. At lights out, Tina had a great getaway and fought in the pack moving up to three positions over the first lap, while Aurelia was hit from the back at turn 2 and had to limp back to the pits with a tyre puncture. Pedrini was also off at turn 4 and had to pit at the end of lap 1 with front wing damage. Ugo Ugochuckwu defended from Brando Badoer and both soon managed to pull away; Taponen, Wharton and Lindblad led a Prema train two seconds down the road. Lindblad found a way past Wharton, but was placed under investigation for a starting infringement. Hausmann gained a further position on Hodenius and chased Liu at a pace of a few tenths per lap faster. De La Torre hit trouble and was back in the pits for a new front wing - which gave Hausmann P14 with 20 minutes to go. Midway through the race, Tina slightly dropped behind from Lui, but safely held position. Ahead, Ugochukwu was managing the pressure from Badoer - but the real battle was between Taponen and Lindblad for third: the Briton desperately tried to find a gap but the Finn defended masterfully. With 5 minutes to go, Hausmann picked up another position over Frederick Lund. A final lap attack by Badoer was unsuccessful and the win of race three went to Ugo Ugochukwu, who also secured the title in the inaugural Euro 4 Championship. Tapoenen resisted the race-long pressure of Lindblad to step on the podium - but the latter received a 10 second penalty that dropped him to eleventh and out of the points. While she did close in again on Riuqi Liu in the closing stages, Hausmann crossed the line in P13, rounding out a widely positive debut season in race cars. Just like in the Italian F4 championship, the Swiss driver was crowned Female Trophy champion, having collected 202.5 points in the female class, 23.5 more than Aurelia Nobels after the nine Euro 4 races of the season. The seven best results counted towards the Female Trophy classification. Hausmann was also 10th in the Rookies classification. "Ladies Euro4 trophy is ours", Hausmann commented. "Together with the F4 Italian Championship one!" "It was quite a long shot coming into this weekend with little experience and limited seat time on this track, but we kept growing and took it home! Thanks to AKM, Marco, my friends, family, sponsors and supporters!" "I can't wait for the next chapters to come", she concluded.
After a first lap pit stop, Aurelia Nobels completed a lonely race in P17, but still showing the competitive pace that she displayed throughout the Spanish weekend. “I had a positive weekend", Aurelia said. "In free practice, we were getting there every session, and then we got P13 and P15 in qualifying, even though I made a mistake in the second session and I couldn’t improve. In race 1, I finished in P13, and the pace was really good, I had a positive start, and I was catching the others. In race 2, I got up to P11 and very close to the points. The pace was very good again, and I was battling with Arvid, which is really good." "In race 3, I had a great start again, but someone hit me from behind causing a puncture. I had to stop to change the tyre, and dropped one lap behind, but the pace was still OK. I’m happy with the weekend, I had two wins in the Woman Trophy and good finishes.” Both drivers have yet to announce their next racing programmes.