F4 Italy: Maya Weug scores points again in Mugello
Maya Weug has signed off her second season in Italian F4 with yet another point-scoring weekend in Mugello; the Iron Dame clinched a top-10 in 6 out of the 7 rounds in a very positive campaign.
The ninth season of the Italian Formula 4 Championship came to a close on Sunday, crowning another highly anticipated champion: Andrea Kimi Antonelli (Prema Racing) succeeded Oliver Bearman as the champion of one of the most competitive single-seater junior formulae in the world. Antonelli becomes the second Italian to win the title, after Gabriele Minì clinched the success in 2020. Former champions include Lance Stroll, Ralf Aron, Marcos Siebert, Marcus Armstrong, Enzo Fittipaldi and Dennis Hauger. Prema also sealed its sixth team’s title out of nine seasons. While Kimi Antonelli – already a Mercedes F1-backed driver – dominated the season, with 13 wins and 15 podiums, the 2022 season was also marked by the development or Iron Lynx/Iron Dames’ Maya Weug, who contested her second season in F4 machinery and highly impressed in one of the biggest and fastest fields to date. Weug, a Ferrari Driver Academy driver, had shown good progress in her rookie season, but had failed to score a point. In 2022, on the other hand, Weug was immediately on the frontrunner’s pace and would consistently battle within the top ten at every round. In what has been a very successful season for the Belgian/Dutch racer, she claimed points in every race meeting except Monza, where a series of unfortunate events – including a crash while she was battling for points – prevented her from making the most out of the races at the Temple of Speed. In a series where qualifying is crucial, Weug has significantly improved in her single-lap performance and often started within the top-10. Great racecraft in battles did the rest, and Maya could secure a 6th place finish in Imola as her best seasonal result. At Mugello – one of the most demanding racetracks in Italy, located among the Tuscan hills – Maya Weug was again on the hunt for points. And she delivered. In qualifying, Weug had two strong sessions, putting the #83 Iron Lynx Tatuus in P16 and P10 in an over 40 car field. Andrea Kimi Antonelli was unbeatable and scored pole positions for all the three races. Dunne – who aimed at the second place in the championship standings – preceded Ugo Ugochukwu (Prema Racing), Charlie Wurz and Martinius Stenshorne.
On the starting grid of Race 1, Red Bull backed driver Arvin Lindblad stalled as the lights went out and was luckily avoided by the whole pack. Antonelli held the lead, while in the midfield Jonas Ried, Alfio Spina and Ismail Akhmed hit trouble.
After a difficult qualifying, Rafael Camara moved into eighth place from P10 on the grid, as Maya Weug climbed six places and was straight into the top ten. Two more front-runners – James Wharton and Kacper Sztuka – were also out of the race early.
The safety car bunched up the field when Koolen, Bhirombhakdi, Maschio and Perino went out in a multiple car accident. Antonelli had almost built a one second gap in the lead over Dunne, but the Italian was never under threat also at the restart.
Having already made it into P10, Maya Weug had her eyes set on another point-scoring race.
Unfortunately, she had a slow restart and had a hard time to defend from the fast charging pack: Maya would end up P14.
Antonelli perfectly timed the restart and pulled away, with Stenshorne overtaking Ugochukwu for third – as the American dropped to sixth.
The victory in race 1 handed Andrea Kimi Antonelli the 2022 Italian F4 title, in his eleventh win of the season. Dunne and Stenshorne completed the podium.
With a very strong first part of the race, the restart was the only issue in Weug's race, who had to postpone her top 10 on the following day.
Tenth place on the starting grid was the perfect opportunity to capitalize in Race 2.
From pole, Antonelli led Camara, Sztuka and Dunne after one lap of racing, before Dunne attacked and passed his US Racing teammate for third.
Maya Weug had a good start and held 10th, while getting closer to Prema's Wharton, who was under pressure from the Iron Dame when the race was neutralized.
Lindblad’s nightmare weekend continued with a contact with Frassineti, with the Italian ending up receiving a penalty for pushing off the Briton. Lindblad was out of the race and the Safety Car made its first appearance of the day – also after a separate incident between Maschio and Koolen.
At the restart with 12 minutes to go, Camara went side by side with Antonelli for the lead, but the 2022 champion held on. This battle, though, allowed Dunne and Sztuka to close in again on the leading Premas.
Wharton had meanwhile passed Bohra – who was now also watching his mirrors from the faster Maya Weug.
A second safety car neutralized the race once again when Niels Koolen and Liu Qi Rui collided and hit the barriers.
With only 4 minutes left on the clock, Antonelli was once again perfect at the restart, as Dunne attempted a move on Camara at Turn 1. While he initially backed off, the Irishman made the move stick one corner later.
Seventh-placed Marcus Amand slowed down with a broken front wing and dropped down the order, leaving Maya Weug in eighth place. In the hectic final laps, Martinius Stenshorne caught up with Weug and ultimately passed her on the final corner after a good battle.
Andrea Kimi Antonelli had opened a 1.2 second gap and won ahead of Dunne and Camara – further 3 seconds down the road. Sztuka and Ugochukwu rounded out the top five, with Maya Weug scoring points with a P9 finish.
The final race of the 2022 Italian F4 season rounded out the track activities at Mugello for the weekend, with track conditions and temperature changing.
Rafael Camara had the opportunity to redeem himself in Race 3, as the Brazilian started from pole position ahead of teammate Antonelli. At the first corner, though, Dunne, Sztuka and Camara went three-wide, resulting in contact and in two of the potential winners ending their race in the gravel: Camara and Sztuka were out, while Dunne, who was on the inside line, was handed a drive through penalty.
After a great start, though, Antonelli had already taken the lead and preceded Ugochukwo and Dunne when the Safety Car was deployed.
Maya Weug also had a great getaway and moved into ninth place after the first lap of racing.
Before serving his drive through, Dunne was able to claim second from Ugochukwo after the American locked up at Turn 1.
A big accident involving Castro and Lacorte brought out the Safety Car once again. Both drivers were unhurt, but the Van Amersfoort Racing’s car of the Belgian had sustained significant damage in the hit with the barriers.
Just like in Race 1, Maya Weug's progress came undone after the Safety Car restart, as she dropped down to P11. She then struggled with pace in the final laps – potentially with fading tyres – and she had to put up a fight for the positions just outside the top 10. After initially holding off Lindblad and Spina, she eventually had to give up a few places, finishing P15.
On the final lap Antonelli could extend once again his gap and won unchallenged – in an utterly dominant weekend. Ugo Ugochukwu took second place, helding off Charlie Wurz in the closing stages in a Prema 1-2-3.
Despite the slightly disappointing end of Race 3, Maya Weug once again proved she belongs to the top ten in every race and on every circuits; while her plans for next year are still unconfirmed, it is likely that the FDA driver will have new challenges in 2023.
On Monday after the final race in Mugello, Weug has tested Formula Regional machinery for the first time.