While there was little luck for Doriane Pin in Dubai, a chaotic third F4 UAE round still translated into a P7 finish and 6 more points for the French racer, who had pace to battle in the top ten but was caught in the midfield action.
Doriane Pin returned behind the wheel of a F4 car after spending the one-week break in the F4 UAE calendar sharing the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 with the rest of the Iron Dames crew at Daytona International Speedway.
Competing in one of the most famous endurance races in the world - the 24 Hours of Daytona - in fact shows that Doriane Pin is no regular F4 driver, but one of the most exciting talents in the world, today tackling a dual program in both GT racing and single seaters, where she just made her debut and is learning her craft ahead of the 2024 F1 Academy season.
Pin, who will represent Mercedes and is now part of the Mercedes-AMG F1 Team Junior Programme, headed back to the UAE just after securing a remarkable P6 at the Rolex Daytona 24 Hours.
The 20 year old driver has spent all her career so far in sports cars and turned heads last year in her first season in LMP2 machinery, with a podium at debut in FIA WEC. In formulas, Pin turned out to be just as fast to adapt: a podium in her first ever weekend in F4 SEA, and a win in her second weekend. In one of the most competitive F4 fields in the world, Pin definitely established herself as one of the brightest talents, collecting two top-10s - including a top six - at debut in the Emirati championship.
One week later, she would claim her first top five, while constantly battling around a potential podium position. In a 33-car field that includes the world's top F4 drivers committed to prepare their European campaigns, Pin then headed to Dubai Autodrome for her first time, tackling the third round of the season.
Switching back and forth from two very different driving styles - the pure performance required to drive single seaters and the more technical, management-driven approach of high-level endurance racing - Pin proved that challenges are never too big for her: on a track where she had never driven before, the 20 year old was fourth fastest in the free practice session on Friday.
Freddie Slater (Mumbai Falcons) led the session, two tenths faster than teammate Kean Nakamura Berta and Rashid Al Dhaheri (Prema Racing), and one further tenth ahead of Doriane Pin. This promising start followed, equalling strong results in testing, where Doriane was seventh fastest in both sessions.
Unfortunately the two 15-minute qualifying sessions proved to be more challenging and Doriane was left P13 in a red-flag disrupted Q1 and tenth in Q2 - although the close gaps clearly suggested that the Prema driver had the potential to find her way in the top ten in all races.
While pole-sitter Nikita Bedrin (PHM AIX Racing) had a good launch, a chaotic start saw multiple accidents: Matteo Quintarelli and Rashid Al Dhaheri crashed on the main straight, collected by Deagan Fairclough. Doriane Pin managed to avoid the accident and moved up to ninth, in between flying front wings before the safety car was deployed. Bedrin had retained the lead from Kean Nakamura Berta and Dion Gowda.
Bedrin managed the restart well while Slater and Scoular traded positions for fourth. Pin was in Beeton's slipstream - but the Australian also battled and swapped places with Tiago Rodrigues, in a big train of cars fighting for the top ten. Pin attempted a move but the Macau-based driver defended aggressively; they still managed to open a 3 second gap to Stilp, Rodella and Yeh, who fought for the reverse grid pole just behind.
Despite many waves on the straights by her opponent, Pin made a move stick at turn 1 on lap 12 and advanced to eighth.
Ahead, Nakamura Berta kept a close distance to race leader Bedrin, but the Mumbai Falcons' driver was never close enough and settled for second, four seconds ahead of Dion Gowda. Slater and Al Azhari completed the top five.
A puncture for Scoular on the final lap meant that Doriane Pin picked up another position and was seventh across the finish line, having gained six places from the start of the race.
This result represented Doriane's fifth point-scoring finish in seven races.
The reverse grid race offered further chances to battle at the front, as Pin would start from the third row, in sixth place. With P12 in race 1, Alvise Rodella secured pole position, alongside Enzo Deligny and Alex Powell - who was protagonist of a brilliant recovery from the back of the grid in race 1.
Rodella, though, stalled from pole position and was avoided by the whole pack - allowing Deligny to snatch the lead in an action-packed first lap. Deligny, though, made a mistake at the hairpin and picked up a puncture - and it would be Alex Powell to complete the first lap in first place. Title contender Keanu Al Azhari stormed from fourth to second, passing Stilp and Rodrigues.
Pin had a good start and went into the first corner battling for P5, but she was then shuffled back to sixth; Doriane was looking for her chance to get stuck in and made a great pass on Slater. A huge scrap between the Mumbai Falcons cars allowed Pin to have a go, but she eventually lost out again to the British driver a few corners later, in some chaotic opening laps. Stilp, meanwhile, had damaged his front wing but continued to fight elbows out; he would force Pin off track at turn 1, and the Frenchwoman had to go around the bollard to rejoin, dropping to P12.
The hectic first part of the race continued with Stilp making further contact with Hitech teammate Seewooruthun, in a constant stream of collisions and overtakes throughout the field. A crash at the final corner between Fu Yuhao and Everett Stack eventually brought out the safety car and the dust settled, with Alex Powell forced to build his gap once again.
Powell locked up at the final turn before the green flag - but Al Azhari wasn't close enough; Slater and Rodrigues went off, and Narac and Restrepo collided. Amidst the chaos, Pin survived the restart and held 12th place, as the Prema driver tried to move up without being involved in contacts.
Powell and Al Azhari checked out and preceded Beeton across the finish line of one of the most chaotic races of the season. Doriane Pin was P13, in an unfortunate second race of the weekend that resulted in no points - but at the same time an intact car.
Bedrin and Al Azhari led the pack at the start of race 3, but the protagonist of the start was Deagan Fairclough, who moved from sixth to third, ahead of Al Dhaheri, Slater and Nakamura-Berta, who had lost three spots. From tenth on the grid, Doriane Pin fought around the top ten - but she was soon involved in a contact that damaged her front wing and she fell to P20 at the end of the first lap, which also saw the deployment of the safety car for the accident of Alvise Rodella, Chester Kieffer and Enzo Yeh.
The race resumed one lap later; Pin pitted for a front wing and would now need another safety car to catch back the rest of the pack.
Al Azhari had a good restart and attacked Bedrin for the lead but went deep into turn 1 - and the safety car did interrupt the action again when Quintarelli, Popov and Mrad crashed at the final corner.
Now up to P27, Pin had the chance to rejoin the pack - although she had a mountain to climb. At the green flag Doriane overtook two cars - and two more in the rest of the lap. Over a second faster than the drivers ahead, the French driver caught Stati and Sammalisto - and passed them on lap 9, climbing up to P21.
Ahead, Bedrin and Al Azhari fought wheel to wheel for an exciting duel for the lead; they would pull away while Nakamura-Berta, Fairclough, Slater and Al Dhaheri traded positions for third - and the latter dropped out of contention after picking up front wing damage.
Next up for Pin was Restrepo - and she cleared him on lap 12. On the penultimate lap Doriane was able to gain more positions and advanced to P16 - before an accident for Rodrigues and Fairclough put an early end to the race when the safety car halted the action on the final lap. Having held off the final attacks from Al Azhari, Nikita Bedrin took the third win of the season for PHM AIX Racing. Third place went to Kean Nakamura-Berta, ahead of Slater and Scoular.
After the first lap incident, Doriane Pin had a very solid recovery and charged back to P16 in a 33-car field - highlighting both her pace and racecraft. It was nevertheless a challenging weekend for the young French star, whose pace was closer to the top-five but was unlucky to get caught in the chaotic midfield action. With the six points scored at Dubai Autodrome, Doriane's 36 points put her P9 in the championship standings after three rounds.