Italian F4: Maya Weug gains 14 places in final Monza race
Updated: Nov 3, 2021
Maya Weug completed her first season in single seater with a stunning recovery in Monza, gaining 14 places to finish P14, seventh among the rookies. Hamda Al Qubaisi finished her second season in F4 having scored one more point on Saturday.
The final race day of the season always carries that melancholic feeling. Yet, everyone on the grid of the 2021 F4 Italian championship powered by Abarth knew they had just laid the foundations for their next steps in motor racing, having just competed in one of the most competitive feeder series in the world.
Saturday at Autodromo Nazionale di Monza was a good day for Emirati racer Hamda Al Qubaisi, who was back into the top-10 after a really strong Vallelunga weekend.
The Temple of Speed has historically been friendly territory for Al Qubaisi, who made her third start in F4 at the track. In 2020, she scored her best result of the season with a ninth place, while on Friday she claimed her second-highest qualifying result with sixth place for Race 3, and two more Top-10 in the remaining races.
Hamda had a difficult start in Race 1, dropped back to P17 at one point, but was able to recover and secured a P10 after a remarkable comeback.
Race 2 was a more challenging one, as the 19-year-old up-and-coming talent had to retire following a contact in the tricky wet conditions.
Maya Weug had a difficult start to her weekend in Monza: the first ever female driver contracted by the Ferrari Driver Academy was P24 and P23 in the two 15-minute qualifying sessions and, while she managed to recover to P21 in Race 1, she dropped to the back of the pack in Race 2 after a contact at the final Safety Car restart, when she was hit by another driver.
In Sunday’s final race, Weug lined up in P29 out of the 35 car field, and knew she had a mountain to climb. But Maya never gives up.
Lorenzo Patrese started all three races from pole position after a dominant Friday, but could not capitalise on Saturday. He shared the front row of Race 3 with Andrea Kimi Antonelli – protagonist of an impressive weekend at only his third race in F4. Iron Lynx’s Leonardo Fornaroli should have taken the start from third place, but he was halted by the doctors following a hand injury suffered in Race 2.
Similarly, Braschi was also ruled out of Race 3.
Tim Tramnitz, Kirill Smal and Hamda Al Qubaisi followed. Track conditions remained difficult throughout the day, with low temperatures and damp track.
Patrese held the lead at the start, ahead of Antonelli and Bearman, who had a great start. The Brit – already winner of the two Monza races – took the lead before the end of the first lap, taking advantage of a mistake by Patrese at the exit of Parabolica.
Hamda Al Qubaisi had a difficult start and, while she held on to sixth initially, the Prema driver slipped down to tenth place. Montoya was also forced to recover from 12th.
Several drivers straight-lined the first and second chicanes and, amidst the chaos, Bearman pulled away and continued to lead comfortably. Kirill Smal had moved into second place, but was under pressure from Antonelli. Maya Weug kept her nose clean and steadily climbed the order: from 28th, she slotted into 23rd place when the first Safety Car was deployed.
Erick Zuniga had in fact spun out in the gravel and marshals recovered his BWT Mucke Motorsport Tatuus F4 car. Behind the Safety Car, Sebastian Montoya made a mistake as he warmed up his tyres and crashed at the exit of Prima Variante.
The race went back to green with 14 minutes left on the clock and there was quickly another contact at Turn 1, as Wisnicki and Bedrin collided and spun.
Having dropped to 16th, Hamda Al Qubaisi started to charge back and was up to eleventh place after a series of good overtaking maneuvers. At the same time, Maya Weug was also quickly moving towards the first half of the timing screens and reached P15.
Ben and Simonazzi made contact; the Swiss driver spun while the Italian BVM Racing driver picked up a puncture. Tyre debris was scattered around the track and the Safety Car had to be deployed again for debris.
Oliver Bearman perfectly managed the restart with little over 2 minutes to go but behind him there was more drama: Conrad Laursen spun at La Roggia and lost his chances of winning the Rookie championship and Hamda Al Qubaisi also had contact and damaged her front wing. She unfortunately retired and was classified P29 in the final race of the season.
“This weekend has been quite tricky for me” – she recalled. “I had a really good qualifying and I was very happy about it, but then looking at the weather you could never predict what was gonna happen. To get this type of weather that I’m not used to and not so confident in – and starting so far in front you have a lot of pressure”
“At least in Race 3 I continued almost to the end, which means I took a bit of experience out these conditions. It was wet in some places and dry in other places”.
Already crowned champion at Mugello, Bearman took his third win at Monza – the 11th of the season – preceding Smal and Antonelli – the latter also scoring three podiums this weekend. Patrese and Tramnitz rounded out the top-5.
With a stunning recovery, Maya Weug gained 14 positions to finish P14 – seventh among the rookies. The Dutchwoman completed her first season in race cars with some impressive weekends and was really close to her first overall points.
Out of the 44 drivers having started at least one race in the series, Hamda Al Qubaisi finished 17th in the overall standings, with 24 points. Her second full season in F4 has been a huge step up for the Emirati, who took her first podium in Misano and won several races in the UAE-based series.
“Race 1 was a positive note, despite the rough start, it’s one positive thing to take away. I hope to practice more in these conditions, but overall I’m happy with the season.”
“It’s over now, which is quite sad that it went by so fast, but I’m really happy about the support by Prema: the environment and how they supported me is amazing. I am honestly so grateful to be in such an amazing team. I’d also like to thank my sponsors Strata and Kaspersky Lab, for having faith in me.”
Hamda Al Qubaisi and Maya Weug will reveal their next plans in due course.