Lola Lovinfosse & Emely de Heus complete positive debut in Spanish F4
The two female rookies of the 2021 Spanish F4 championship finished all three races, gaining crucial experience for the future rounds, in their learning-oriented debut in single-seaters.
The 2021 season of F4 Spain started in Belgium, at the much-loved Spa-Francorchamps circuit, in conjunction with the 6H of Spa, first round of the World Endurance Championship. In a tight schedule, two races took place on Friday and the final one on Saturday; we finally had the chance to see the two female rookies of the championship making their debut in single-seaters: Emely de Heus from Netherlands (MP Motorsport) and Lola Lovinfosse from France (Drivex).
The young drivers (17 and 16 respectively) managed to move up the order during all the races but, most importantly, they made huge improvements throughout the weekend despite the tricky conditions - which even saw a wet practice session on Thursday.
In qualifying on Thursday afternoon, MP Motorsport's Emely de Heus was 23rd, while the Drivex racer was P25.
Race 1 was claimed by another MP Motorsport driver, Dilano Van't Hoff - who had already proved his talent in this year's F4 UAE championship. On the first lap, Macia stripped Van't Hoff of the first place, with also Marti advancing into P2 - as the Dutchman lost several positions. Lola Lovinfosse and Emely de Heus were just outside the top-20 in a huge field of 28 cars.
A few moments later, Alex Dunne became the race leader, just before Michl and Abramczyk crashed at the Bus Stop chicane, fortunately with no consequences for both drivers. Lovinfosse gained some positions, making it into P23, while De Heus dropped to P25.
The crash between Molina and Oliveira caused a Safety Car period with 21 minutes to go. Dunne, Macia and Van't Hoff were the top three behind the Safety Car, as Lola Lovinfosse had recovered to 21st and Emely de Heus to 23rd.
With 13 minutes to go, racing resumed. With some brave moves, Van't Hoff took P2 and immediately after moved into the lead. Macia went off, which cost him some time and positions - then Dunne and Ramos made it into the top-3. Meanwhile, the French lady had dropped to 22nd place, always followed by De Heus two positions behind.
Macia got back on the podium positions again, as Van't Hoff built a small lead. The Dutchman won, with Macia and Dunne rounding out the podium behind him.
Lovinfosse and De Heus were 23rd and 24th.
In race 2, once again, Van't Hoff showed all his determination from the lead. In a sequence of events, Ryabov went off and drove to the pits; Zanfari crashed heavily at Pouhon, causing the intervention of the Safety Car. At that moment, Lovinfosse was P26, one place behind de Heus in P25.
When the Safety Car drove back to the pitlane, Van't Hoff defended from Josep Marti, in the midst of many lock-ups due to the tyres not up to temperature.
Lola Lovinfosse was able to pass several cars and moved up to 24th place.
Dunne - who had finished third in the first race - was forced to a non-scheduled pitstop and rejoined with a 1 lap gap to the leaders.
On the final lap, Lola Lovinfosse and Emely de Heus battled for position - just as another fight was heating up in the lead: Van't Hoff was looking to repeat his race 1 victory, but had to defend from the attacks of Marti.
Braschi went off, but the accident only triggered local yellow flags.
At the end of another closely-fought race, Dilano Van't Hoff won again - preceding Marti and Santiago Ramos.
Emely de Heus was P21 and took the female trophy win for the round, with Lovinfosse P22 on Saturday.
Race 3 went underway on Saturday afternoon and started with drama right as the lights went out: Macia - who was starting from P2 - stalled and saw the rest of the field passing him off the line. Van't Hoff kept the lead, with Marti and Ramos right behind him.
A big crash between Oxley and Ben immediately called for the intervention of the Safety Car on the first lap. After the neutralization Lola Lovinfosse was 20th and Emely de Heus 24th, having lost her front wing in a turn one contact. Meanwhile, Kelstrup had made it into the top three.
With 6 minutes to go, the Safety Car finally released the pack and the drivers could resume the race. Marti overtook Van't Hoff for P1, as Lovinfosse fell back to P22.
Three cars began a very exciting fight for the first place: Kelstrup completed a stunning double-pass from P3, amazingly making it into the lead.
Abramczyk lost his front wing and hit the wall - meaning a second Safety Car deployment. Lovinfosse was having a great run and had made it to 19th place, in a visibly more confident run for the French lady, who was among the biggest movers with 8 positions gained.
Time ran out and we witnessed a final shoot out for positions. In a chaotic final lap, Kelstrup defended from the return of his MP Motorsport's teammate, while Ogaard made it to third and Marti dropped to sixth.
Lola Lovinfosse finished 21st and Emely de Heus was 23rd. Overall, the French lady leads the "Trofeo Feminino" after one weekend, having finished ahead of her competitor in two out of the three races.
"It was quite a tough weekend for me. Unfortunately, I missed some testing days before the season started, so I could get more used to the car."- said de Heus.
"During the first and third races I lost my front wing at the beginning of both races, luckily I could make up because of the safety car, which gave me more advantage with my pitstop. I've learned a lot this weekend and will use this in the next round to get a better result."
Lola summed up her weekend with positivity - " It's been a rewarding weekend for me, I've learnt a lot and even if we didn't get the results that I wanted due to a lack of driving before the season, I'm still really happy with how much I improved."
"I really enjoyed my weekend and I can't wait to be in the car again!"
Overall, it was a positive debut for the two rookies, who will return to the track at Navarra, Spain, on 29-30 May for the second round of the Spanish F4 season.