F4 Italy: Hamda Al Qubaisi back in the top20 in wet Race 3
Updated: Sep 13
After an unlucky second race, Hamda Al Qubaisi was back in the top20 in Race 3 at Red Bull Ring, as the two ladies of the Italian F4 championship battled in the midfield in extremely challenging rainy conditions.
As forecasted, the rain did arrive for the final race at the Red Bull Ring: in similar conditions on Saturday afternoon, GT Open was red flagged with a few minutes left on the clock for the worsening track conditions that saw several drivers ending up in the gravel and spinning in the tarmac runoffs.
The grey clouds were expected just before the start of the Italian Formula 4 Championship powered by Abarth and, accurately, rain did arrive just before the cars went on to the grid. All the teams opted, curiously, for the slick tyres, thinking about a quick shower.
Having won the second race with convincing pace, Tim Tramnitz (US Racing) started from pole position in Race 3, ahead of Leonardo Fornaroli, Joshua Dufek and Oliver Bearman.
20th on the grid, Hamda Al Qubaisi aimed to get back in the first half of the classify where she belongs, after a difficult end to an otherwise positive second race pace-wise. Maya Weug lined up in P24; the Dutchwoman had scored a P6 in the rookies' class and 14th overall, making up 10 places on the grid.
The race was started behind the Safety Car for the sudden changes in the weather over the Styrian hills. After the first lap, though, many drivers pitted to change to wet-weather tyres - effectively starting the tyre gamble. Both Hamda Al Qubaisi and Maya Weug pitted for new grooved tyres, while Tramnitz, Fornaroli and Bearman stayed out.
More drivers opted to change their tyre strategy on the second lap - among them, early race leaders Tramnitz and Fornaroli. During these hectic moments, Van Amersfoort Racing's Oliver Bearman moved into the lead - ahead of Nikita Bedrin, Joshua Durksen, Francesco Braschi and Bence Valint.
Jonas Ried completed an unlucky weekend with a spin into the gravel - resulting in a DNF for the BWT Mucke Motorsport's driver.
Having both pitted for wets, Al Qubaisi and Weug rejoined in P22 and P29 respectively, before the Safety Car turned off its lights and made its way back into the pitlane.
The track conditions remained extremely challenging and many drivers slided in big sideways moments at Turn 1 and 2 - often going off into the runoff.
On the faster tyre, Dufek moved ahead of championship leader Bearman on lap 5; the Briton initially held off the attacks of the VAR teammate, but eventually dropped down the order.
A 1-2-3 VAR emerged, but Dufek overshot Turn 3; The home hero fought back and moved into the lead of the race a few corners later. In a few chaotic laps, Conrad Laursen spun at the final corner - everyone narrowly missed him - and Sebastian Montoya also went off after contact with a very impressive Braschi.
The incident brought out the Safety Car, as Braschi's Jenzer Motorsport's car had to be retrieved. Hamda Al Qubaisi and Maya Weug could both improve to P18 and P25.
At the restart on lap 8, ten minutes were left on the clock - Nicolas Baptiste cut his way through the field and clinched a fifth place thanks to the brilliant pit stop by Cram Motorsport.
Kirill Smal sent his #7 SMP Racing's sponsored F4 car on the inside of the last corner, gaining third place from Bearman. The Russian would move into second place, with tyre strategies still making it difficult to predict. Unfortunately, the Safety Car freezed the action once again when Santiago Ramos made contact and went around.
Oliver Bearman, meanwhile, had slipped to 12th place, still on slicks. Dufek continued to lead Tramnitz, Smal and Simonazzi after completing 10 laps.
Once the race went back to green, Tramnitz managed to make a move stick for the lead after a very entertaining and exciting side-by-side battle with Dufek: the German went through and never looked back, opening a small margin.
Behind them, Smal and Simonazzi fought for the final step of the podium - the Italian having a really convincing race for BVM Racing.
Maya Weug and Hamda Al Qubaisi battled hard in the midfield and were P19 and P20. In the final stages, Weug climbed to 16th - ninth in the rookies' standings - where she would eventually finish. Hamda was on her way into the top-15, but she had to take evasive action from an incident ahead and lost several places.
After 15 laps in very tricky conditions, Tim Tramnitz took his second victory of the weekend, ahead of VAR's Joshua Dufek and Prema Powerteam's Kirill Smal. Simonazzi was fourth and Baptiste fifth, in a personal best in the series. He also led the rookies classify, with Lorenzo Patrese second and Charlie Wurz third in class.
The championship leader Oliver Bearman, who leads comfortably the points standings, was P20.
Maya Weug was P16 across the finish line and Hamda Al Qubaisi was back in the top-20 after an unlucky second race earlier today, with an 18th place finish.
"In race 3, with the weather conditions was again really complicated." - explained Al Qubaisi. "In the end, a guy in front of me spun and I couldn't avoid him which cost me many positions. I was just trying to get used to the track, I was improving lap by lap but I couldn't put out my best potential. I think I can definitely do much better in the next round."
Italian F4 will now be back on track in a month's time at Mugello, for the sixth round of the 2021 season on 9-10 October.