Italian F4: Hausmann, Blokhina and Nobels share Female Trophy wins at Monza
At the Temple of Speed, Tina Hausmann, Victoria Blokhina and Aurelia Nobels shared the Female Trophy wins in the three Monza races of Italian F4; Blokhina claimed her fourth top-20 of the season, while Hausmann had a positive weekend with many battles and recovered 12 positions across the races. Despite being hit in a few races, Nobels bounced back with a strong race 3 at her return after her injury.
The Temple of Speed provided once again exciting racing across the weekend for the Italian F4 Championship - often regarded as the world's most competitive F4 series. With grids close to the 40 entries and several F1 team's junior talents, the Italian F4 has consistently produced the most promising up-and-coming racers that eventually climb the single-seater ladder. Among the hopefuls of the 2023 season are three young female talents, who chose the "traditional" path rather than the F4-based all-female F1 Academy championship. Tina Hausmann is undoubtedly one of the drivers to watch for the future: the Swiss 16-year old has always shown impressive talent but also had unlucky races that prevented her to fully showcase her potential so far - including a shoulder injury picked up in a scary roll-over crash at Misano. FDA talent Aurelia Nobels had her fair share of bad luck as well: despite being close to the top-10 on a few occasions - including at her debut in Imola, where the Prema driver just missed out on points - Nobels also had an accident in Misano that ruled her out for the following round in Spa. The fourth round in Monza was therefore her official return to the championship after her wrist fracture. At her second season of F4 competitions, Victoria Blokhina has returned with German team PHM Racing; Blokhina has been the protagonist of several exciting battles in the midfield where she proved to be not afraid of fighting elbows out in such a crowded grid. With two 15th places collected at Imola and Misano respectively, Victoria is currently leading the Female Trophy classification, despite three DNFs at the previous round in Spa Francorchamps. Blokhina was in fact involved in a massive shunt in the first Belgian race, where her car was catapulted in the air and rolled several times before shattering against the barriers of the Kemmel Straight. While Blokhina was luckily unharmed, her car was less so and she had to sit out the rest of the weekend. Just like Nobels, Blokhina was back behind the wheel in Monza - albeit she had to serve a grid penalty following the Spa accident. As per Monza tradition, slipstream played a crucial role in qualifying: VAR's Brando Badoer secured his first pole position in the series, ahead of Kacper Sztuka (US Racing) and Arvid Lindblad (Prema Racing). Aurelia Nobels had a very promising qualifying and would line up in P15 on the grid for the first race of the weekend; a best lap of 1:54.484 granted Tina Hausmann P23 on the grid, while Victoria Blokhina was 27th fastest, but the penalty dropped her to the back of the grid. The 33 car field also shortened to 32, as AKM Motorsport's Davide Larini had to withdraw from the event after a crash in practice at Parabolica that damaged his car beyond repair.
After a clean start for the whole pack through the tricky first chicane, Badoer held on to the lead but Lindblad was able to make a move stick at the second chicane, also followed by Prema's Tuukka Taponen. Aurelia Nobels fell to 18th and Hausmann, forced to cut across prima variante also lost a position. Blokhina, on the other hand, could make up a couple of positions and started her recovery from the back. A battle for fourth saw Sztuka, Ugochukwu and Wharton swapping positions; the American eventually got the position. Badoer fought back on lap 3 and passed Lindblad at Parabolica, then defended at Turn 1 - but the Red Bull junior was back ahead at La Roggia. Nobels was charging up the order but was hit and sent into a spin at first chicane; the Iron Dame rejoined, but had dropped to the tail end of the 32 car field. Hausmann was recovering and moved up to 24th - then overtook Frassineti for 23rd. Frassineti, though, was back ahead on lap 7 and Hausmann had to defend from Lund and Wiebelhaus as well - in a big train of cars that also included Victoria Blokhina in 26th after the PHM Racing driver had steadily moved up the order. Aurelia Nobels attempted a recovery and passed Akhmedkhodjaev for P29. Badoer and Lindblad alternated in the lead a few more times, allowing Ugochukwu - who had meanwhile passed Prema teammates Taponen - to close in on the battle for the win. The safety car was then deployed with 6 minutes to go when Luchetti picked up suspension damage from an off track at Ascari and then parked in the gravel at Parabolica. With a strategically timed restart, Lindblad caught out Badoer, who was under pressure from Ugochukwu; Blokhina overtook Hausmann at Prima Variante and moved up to P21, followed by the Swiss AKM Motorsport driver and Aurelia Nobels, who was making great progress in the final laps. Several incidents saw drivers picking up damage but the race remained green; Ugochukwu made the decisive pass at the Parabolica exit and took the lead; despite an attack from Lindblad at La Roggia chicane, Ugochukwu crossed the finish line ahead of Lindblad, Badoer, Lacorte and Taponen. After the race, though, the McLaren junior was penalized for having completed the pass off the track and was demoted to 25th. Championship leader Lindblad inherited the win and extended his points A brilliant final part of the race for Blokhina resulted in a P20 for the PHM Racing driver, who passed Wiebelhaus on the final lap. Unfortunately, she also would be handed a 5 second penalty for passing outside of the track in the chaotic final laps; she would finish P24. Tina Hausmann gained two spots from her starting position and crossed the finish line in P22 and collected the Female Trophy win, ahead of Aurelia Nobels in P23. Despite being spun around, Nobels had a good recovery drive, finishing just outside the top-20. It was Tina's third win in the Female Trophy class.
After the first win of the weekend, Arvid Lindblad had another chance to extend his championship lead on Sunday, with pole position in race 2. From 18th place, Aurelia Nobels was looking for redemption after an unlucky first race, where her pace went unrewarded. Tina Hausmann lined up in 26th, one row ahead of Blokhina in 28th. Lindblad had a good start - unlike Brando Badoer, who was down to fourth after the first chicane, having lost out to Sztuka and Ugochukwu. A difficult getaway for Blokhina moved the PHM driver all the way to the back of the 32 car field. Down in 19th, Nobel was forced to miss the first chicane on lap 2, losing a few more places. There was more trouble for the Brazilian soon after, as she went around at Parabolica and unfortunately had to retire from the race, triggering the safety car. The neutralization gave the opportunity to Blokhina to catch back with the pack, once the green flag waved again with 18 minutes to go. Ugochuwku lost second and third to Sztuka and Badoer at the restart, as Bohra also found a way past the Prema driver at Prima Variante; Hausmann started to make up positions and advanced to P24 - just ahead of the recovering Blokhina. Victoria managed to get ahead of Hausmann with 10 minutes to go; both would overtake Andrea Frassineti one lap later, moving up to P23 and P24. The leading trio of Lindblad, Sztuka and Badoer tried to pull away, after Ugochukwu battled with Bohra and Wharton to regain fourth. Sztuka attempted a pass at the second chicane but had to back out. Ugochukwu was putting pressure on Badoer as well, but the American ended up defending from Bohra. With a very strong recovery, Blokhina passed De La Torre and Quintarelli - then followed by Hausmann. On the final lap they would both gain more positions when Taponen crashed out of the race at turn 1, caught out by a technical issue for Bohra, then collected by Alfio Spina. Blokhina had managed to pass Wiebelhaus as well, but eventually lost the place just across the finish line. With her fourth top 20 of the season, Victoria Blokhina had a positive second race and claimed the Female Trophy, just ahead of Tina Hausmann - who gained five positions in a tightly-fought race.
Linblad had another perfect launch in race 3, with Badoer once again struggling to defend his second position from Sztuka and Ugochukwu; Taponen was sent into the barriers at Prima Variante but could continue despite damage, with more drivers having to cut the chicane. Badoer's race went from bad to worse as the Italian had a mechanical issue and, with his car visibly smoking, had to retire. But there was no time for breathing as Ugochukwu, with a stunning maneuver at turn 1, went around the outside of both Lindblad and Sztuka, who were fighting for the lead. The leading trio continued to battle at every corner but the American held on. From 16th on the grid, Nobels was in the mix of the action in the opening laps; she had to cut the first chicane, losing a few spots and slotting in P21. Hausmann, on the other hand, was making up places: the Swiss driver overtook Frederik Lund for P23 on lap 4, but then was shuffled down to 28th one lap later. Hausmann traded places with Blokhina, then made her way back up the order by passing again Lund. Aurelia Nobels broke inside the top-20 when Ariel Elkin and Alfio Spina dropped down the order. Ahead, Lindblad fought back and claimed second place - then attacked Ugochukwu on lap 10 at the first chicane, making contact with his Prema teammate. They both continued, but the American went around and lost the top 10. Just like in race 2, Hausmann and Blokhina climbed the order in sync: they both passed Finn Wiebelhaus. With two laps to go, James Egozi and Ivan Domingues hit trouble in unrelated incidents, promoting Aurelia Nobels to P18. The FDA driver was therefore able to finish a race in the top-20 this weekend and secured the Female Trophy win in race 3. "It was a difficult weekend, having a DNF and a few issues in the first two races, but I’m happy to have finished Race 3 with good improvements, and good battles on track as well", Aurelia commented. "We showed some pace and we won the women’s trophy so I’m really happy about that." Victoria Blokhina has often impressed for her determination in the wheel-to-wheel battles and finished P21, gaining six places from her starting position. P22 at the finish line, Tina Hausmann also gained four places in an overall positive round for the Swiss rookie. In a historic weekend, Arvid Lindblad claimed three wins out of three - an achievement last completed by Dennis Hauger in the series. Kacper Sztuka was second, preceding US Racing teammate Akshay Bohra on the podium. Nobels, Hausmann and Blokhina secured one class win each at Monza: Victoria keeps the lead in the class standings by 43 points coming into the next round at Paul Ricard, in the South of France, on 21-23 July.