F4 Italy: Maya Weug continues impressive debut with P17, Al Qubaisi caught in accidents
In the second race of the season opener at Paul Ricard, Maya Weug continued her progress in Italian F4: she recovered from an early contact and was P17 across the line – fifth in the rookies standings. Emirati talent Hamda Al Qubaisi had another challenging race and was P27 after being caught in several accidents in the heavily crowded field.
The first race of the season for Italian Formula 4 Championship – this year featuring close to 40 cars on the grid – was contested in mixed weather conditions on Saturday.
Victory went to Russian Prema driver Kirill Smal, followed by Tramnitz and Bearman. Those three drivers are indeed looking to be the top contenders in this year’s championship – one of the most competitive feeder series in the world.
Italian F4 will also see two of the most interesting female prospects in single seaters: Hamda Al Qubaisi and Maya Weug.
Hamda has great expectations for her second full-time season in the series and both testing and the practice sessions confirmed that the young Emirati can realistically aim at the top-10 in every race in 2021.
After a very unfortunate race 1, though, Hamda was P30 after a spin on the sixth lap of the race, while she was running P19. A difficult qualifying had already relegated her toward the midfield, but a better Q2 meant she would start Race 2 and 3 on P13 and P12 respectively.
Maya Weug – the first ever female driver in the Ferrari Driver Academy – was P19 in her single seater debut. The 16-year old racer, who already proved her talent with a world-class karting career, is entered by Iron Lynx / Iron Dames in her first season in car racing. Having qualified P26, Maya recovered well through the field and recovered 7 positions, finishing fifth among the rookies.
On Sunday morning and under cloudy skies, Oliver Bearman (Van Amersfoort Racing) lined up on pole position for the second race, sharing the front row with Tim Tramnitz (US Racing). When the lights went off, the poleman stalled on the grid and paved the way to his rivals Tramnitz, Browning, Montoya and Smal.
Hamda Al Qubaisi had a good start and was soon up to 12th position, while Maya Weug held P19.
Unlike in the first race, there was drama and accidents all the way down the grid: Braschi had a contact with Valint and was sent into the tyre wall, but the race remained green. Tramnitz completed the first lap on top of the leaderboard, ahead of Browning and Montoya who were battling for second.
Maya Weug moved into 17th place, but the unfortunate Hamda Al Qubaisi had to make a trip to the pit lane to change her front wing after hitting a bollard displaced by a car in front. She rejoined 34th.
Soon after, Weug also had a contact at Turn 11 and dropped to P26.
Prema Powerteam’s Conrad Laursen crashed into Bernier into Turn 5 and both drivers retired. Eron Rexhepi also spun and stopped on track – bringing out the Safety Car.
When the race was resumed on lap 6 and with 13 minutes to go, Smal and Montoya were battling for second, as Tramnitz was enjoying a safe gap ahead.
Both the ladies on the grid made a few positions back, before the Safety Car had to be deployed once again for the accident between Sami Meguetounifi and Nikita Bedrin: the Moroccan driver was deep into the chicane and crashed into the side of the Van Amersfoort Racing car as he jumped over the kerb when he rejoined the track.
The green flag was waved again on lap 10, with 4 minutes left.
Smal had just cleared Montoya for third and started to chase down the two US Racing drivers.
There was more chaos when Catino was spun around and ignited a four-car pile up that also saw Hamda Al Qubaisi involved: luckily, the driver of the #88 Prema continued, despite some more damage to the nosecone of her Tatuus F4 car.
“In the first lap I made a few positions - I think two - so I was already close to the top10. In turn 12 I ran a bit wide and the guy in front of me hit the bollard on the side, which flew and hit my car and I lost my front wing.” – said Hamda.
“I had to pit and from there it was chaos again. I tried to make up some positions but my steering rod was bent so I couldn’t really steer.”
Maya Weug was again really good in the midfield battles and made it up to P17.
Tim Tramnitz crossed the finish line to take his first win in the series after 14 laps, preceding teammate Luke Browning and Kiril Smal.
Montoya was fourth and Joshua Dürksen fifth, having passed Vlad Lomko in the final stages of the race.
After his disastrous start, Oliver Bearman managed to recover to seventh place.
Maya Weug topped her best result and was 17th at the chequered flag, while Hamda Al Qubaisi battled hard to finish P27 despite the many accidents.
The third and final race of the weekend will get underway at 16:10 CEST, with Hamda starting P12 and Maya P17.