"It's all about learning" - Victoria Blokhina after 2nd F4UAE Round
Two rounds into the F4 UAE season, Russian rookie Victoria Blokhina continues her learning process as she starts climbing the midfield and racks up mileage in her first single seater outings.
Two rounds are now in the books, with three more to come. And among the highly competitive F4UAE field is 15-year-old Victoria Blokhina, who just started her single-seater adventure. Coming from the world of international karting, Blokhina came under the spotlight last year, when she was selected among the four finalists at the FIA Girls On Track Rising Stars programme.
Blokhina is now building on the momentum and joined the Emirate-based Formula 4 championship – one of the fastest growing feeder series – and is quickly adapting to the new car and the new team, 3Y by R-ace GP. So far, she has scored a season-best result of P20 at the first round at Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi, and she is steadily improving at Dubai Autodrome as well, after the 4 races of the second round.
"My impressions of the championship are very positive!" – she told us as she gets ready for Round 3. "I liked the organization of the event, the teamwork with the engineer, coach, mechanics - everything turned out productively" – she explained.
In both the qualifying sessions for race 1 and 2 at Dubai, it would be James Wharton (Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema) to score both pole positions, with no one able to outpace him. And, just like for the pole-sitter, the second and third placed drivers remained unchanged through the two 15-minute sessions: Tasanapol Inthraphuvasak (MP Motorsport) and Aiden Neate (Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema) would follow Wharton. Victoria Blokhina was P27 in both sessions, with most of the almost-30 car field separated by tenths of a second.
Speaking about her experience so far, Victoria explained: "I got used to the car pretty quickly, on the first day of the tests I was in the Top 15, on the second day we made a little mistake with the settings, so the result was lower."
"On the third day, the settings were reversed, but just before qualifying, so I had to try a lot [different] directly in the qualifying sessions, and the result was not very good. But in the races I could compete with those who qualified higher, even though I turned out to be slower on the track."
Race 1 was a start to finish victory for Wharton, in a shortened competition which was red flagged due to an incident that involved Nikita Bedrin (PHM Racing) who spun Neate into Martinus Stenshorne (3Y by R-ace GP). Inthraphuvasak finished second, ahead of Charlie Wurz (Prema).
Blokhina recovered to P24 and was keeping up the pace with the cars ahead of her.
And it would be again Wharton to seal victory in Race 2 and 3, with Neate and Inthraphuvasak on the podium for the second race and Wurz and Neate in the third one.
Blokhina fought her way in the pack and finished P22 and P24, proving that the young Russian is consistently making progress pace-wise to be within the Top-20 and setting the bar higher race after race.
The reversed-grid race was the only one where Wharton couldn't reach the highest step of the podium last weekend, as Bedrin took victory ahead of Stenshorne and Rafael Camara (Prema). Victoria took the chequered flag in 23rd position.
"The conclusions from the first rounds are clear. I don't have enough experience in the battles and starts right now: I have to learn everything, but that's why I came here to train and understand how and what is happening." – she wisely reflected.
"I think that I showed not the worst results, but, of course, not the best, it could have been better."
Her first steps from karting and into Formula 4 territory, adapting to the new Halo-equipped Tatuus F4 car for the upcoming European campaign is a great step already, and one that will result in valuable track time and experience ahead of bigger challenges. While the learning curve is big, drivers like Hamda Al Qubaisi proved how the series can be a great platform to advance and be competitive in highly-demanding championships such as Italian Formula 4.
"The most important thing is to finish in all the races, get more experience, so that it will be easier later." – Victoria said. "By the next round, I will continue to train both in the fitness room and behind the wheel. So I'm preparing physically and mentally."
This weekend, the F4UAE paddock will remain at Dubai Autodrome for Round 3 of the season, which will be contested on a different track layout. Victoria Blokhina targets more improvements thanks to some positive testing days. The field is also expected to grow, as two more drivers have been announced for the weekend.
"I know my rivals, I know that they are very strong, this will be one of the strongest seasons in the Emirati Formula 4", continued Blokhina. "Drivers like Antonelli or Camara, who have been testing and performing well in Formula 4 for several years, participate with me, and it will be very difficult to compete with them."
"But now I just want to show the best results for myself. I understand that there will be no podiums, but my task is to get into the Top 10 first, and then into the Top 5."