F4 Italy: Another remarkable performance for Maya Weug in Misano race 1, Blokhina gets second top-20
With another brilliant race, Maya Weug continues her stunning sophomore season in Italian F4 with the third Top-10 in four races, as she finishes P7 in Misano race 1. Remarkable recovery for Victoria Blokhina, who recovers 8 positions to clinch her second Top-20 in the series in just as many weekends.
Photo credits: Racers - Behind the Helmet
Italian Formula 4 is making its annual visit to Misano World Circuit, the famous racing venue a few hundred metres away from the Adriatic sea.
The Misano round turned out to be an historic one last year, when Hamda Al Qubaisi scored her maiden podium in the series, becoming the first woman to do so.
In 2022, the uber competitive Italian F4 features again two talented female drivers: Ferrari Driver Academy member Maya Weug, at her second season in F4 and part of the Iron Dames squad – and Victoria Blokhina, who is at her first full-season in single-seaters after a promising karting career.
Blokhina raced in the F4 UAE series, and had the opportunity to get to grips with the new Tatuus F4 chassis. The experience proved worthwhile and she started off the Italian F4 campaign with a P19 in Imola, claiming her first Top-20 in a championship that features almost 40 entries.
Straight from the practice sessions, Maya Weug showed great speed and potential to end close to the Top-5, for which it would be her best result in racecars to date.
In qualifying on Saturday morning, Maya was 9th fastest in Q1 – and she just kept improving, as she was P8 in Q2 and set the seventh second-fastest time which would set the grid for Race 3.
Similarly, Blokhina also had high hopes after solid practice sessions where she was often well within the top-20 and close to the top-15.
In qualifying, the rookie was P27 and P30 on Saturday morning, as Prema Powerteam’s Andrea Kimi Antonelli claimed all three pole positions for the Misano races.
From the strong 36-car field, Oleksandr Partyshev was missing: the Ukrainian brought out a red flag during Q2, when he hit the yellow sausage kerb at the exit of the final corner and had to stop on the main straight to request the medical intervention. The ambulance quickly assisted him and was later transported to the Rimini hospital, where he underwent checks.
On the starting grid of Race 1, Camara and Wharton made it a Prema 1-2-3. When the lights went out Antonelli and Camara sprinted towards Turn 1 and the Brazilian was able to snatch the top spot. Maya Weug also had a great launch and moved into eighth – but the Safety Car was soon deployed when a few separated accidents put out several cars; Perino was spun into the grass by Lund, who also ended his race on the back straight. Barnard was also involved, while Domingues and Stenshorne spun, also collecting Ischer.
Amidst the hectic start, Victoria Blokhina had to recover from a slow start off the line, but was then able to get into P22 before the restart.
Camara led Antonelli, Wharton, Wurz and Dunne at the green flag with 20 minutes left to run; Maya Weug was immediately aggressive behind Conrad Laursen, as the Dane was trying to pass Amand. Weug, though, also had to watch her mirrors from the charging Emmo Fittipaldi, but she was then able to open a gap and remained with the group of front-runners.
When Laursen passed Marcus Amand, Maya grabbed the opportunity and dived on the inside with a very decisive move in the final sector, taking seventh place.
Meanwhile, Blokhina was also making up positions and advanced to P20.
The PHM Racing driver was a couple of tenths faster than the group of cars ahead and she would catch up with Elia Sperandio. After a good battle, Blokhina gained P19 on lap 12 and pulled away.
Ahead, Antonelli was putting immense pressure on Camara, as the Italian was looking for an opportunity to strike.
Behind the train of Prema cars, Dunne had to defend from Laursen, who was looking to make it a 1-2-3-4-5 for the Italian team.
Flack also was launched in the air at the final corner as he hit the sausage kerb – but luckily with no consequences.
WIth three minutes to go, Antonelli’s attacks became more aggressive. After a stunning move at Curvone, the Mercedes junior went into the race lead with three minutes left on the clock. The move, though, allowed all the other Prema cars to bunch up and fight for positions. From the chaos, US Racing’s Dunne made an opportunistic move stick and got into third place. Maya Weug also joined the party in the leaders’ group.
On the final lap, Andrea Kimi Antonelli stretched his lead and took his first spectacular victory in Italian F4. He was followed by Camara, Dunne, Wurzm Wharton, Laursen, Weug. The young Iron Dame had another outstanding race to claim her third Top-10 finish in four races – effectively all races she had finished.
Blokhina was 19th across the finish line, with a strong performance that saw her gaining eight places from her starting position.
“I lost a bit at the start, my first metres were not so good, but from there it went pretty well”, Blokhina told us after Race 1. “I could battle closely with the guys”.
“I overtook another driver once he made a mistake and then I just reached for the group in front of me and I actually I catched them. So overall it was quite good, not too bad”, she summed up.
With today’s P19, Blokhina was back in the top-20 after her P17 in Imola Race 1. “Maybe P15 is my next target, because my lap times are often around 17th place. I can do it.”
The second and third races of Italian F4 will get underway on Sunday at 09:40 local time, while the 3rd and final race at Misano World Circuit will round out the day at 17:40.
Photo credits: Racers - Behind the Helmet