Maya Weug clinches two Top-ten in first two Italian F4 races
At her second year in the super competitive Italian F4, Maya Weug had a blistering start to her campaign, with two top-ten finishes and a P6 as her best career result to date in Imola.
With a very positive start to her maiden Italian F4 campaign, Victoria Blokhina had an impressive qualifying and scored her first top-20 at debut.
One season to learn, one season to impress. This is often the case for many junior single seater championships, especially as drivers make big heaps from karting to single seaters.
Maya Weug, 17-year-old from Belgium-Netherlands-Spain, seems to be on this path. Already a karting star, Maya came out on top after the first edition of the FIA Girls On Track - Rising Stars programme, which brought the first ever female driver to the Ferrari Driver Academy.
After passing a series of selections both on and off the track, was put under contract by the Italian F1 team’s junior programme, which allowed her to make the step into single-seaters in 2021. In her rookie year in the massively competitive Italian F4, Weug had brilliant races – often stepping on the rookie podium. Despite going close on a couple of occasions, though, she missed out on scoring her first overall points, in what was one of the crowdest grids in European racing.
Having been confirmed for a second year with Iron Lynx/Iron Dames, Weug returns to Italian F4, this time with bigger ambitions.
She will again have a challenger in the Female Trophy, with 16-year-old Victoria Blokhina also making her Italian F4 Championship debut with PHM Racing. Blokhina – also one of the finalists in the Girls On Track selections, stepped up from international karting during the winter, with a partial campaign in the UAE-based F4 series.
Blokhina had previously completed a testing program in Europe and then had the chance to learn the secrets of the new Tatuus T421 car which is being employed internationally for the first time this year.
On the first day of the 2022 season, drivers had to come to terms with a very wet track, as pouring rain marked the action throughout Friday.
On Saturday morning, though, the rain had eased and teams had to gamble whether to go out on slicks or rain tyres for qualifying.
Q1 was still too damp and everyone opted for wets. Home hero Andrea Kimi Antonelli set the fastest lap and took pole, from Prema teammate Rafael Camara and Nikita Bedrin (PHM Racing).
Maya Weug had pace to end in the top ten but was slowed down on her final lap by some traffic – which ultimately put her in 16th place.
Blokhina was 30th out of a 33-car field for the weekend.
With no more rain in Q2, some drivers opted for slicks – while both Maya and Victoria went out on the grooved tyres. It would reveal a winning strategy, as both set their fast laps early when others struggled on the slick compound.
Weug led most of the session and was only topped on the very final minutes, ending in fourth place. A penalty for the pole sitter further promoted the Iron Dame to third place on the grid of Race 2.
Similarly, Blokhina had a great session and was ninth fastest, as she held on to the top-ten for the whole session.
Alexander Dunne’s penalty meant that Frederik Lund (R-Ace GP) was promoted to pole position, ahead of Iron Lynx’s Ivan Domingues.
When the lights went out for the first time in 2022, Antonelli had a great getaway and led, despite having to overcome the big pressure from his teammate Camara. While the race was contested in fully dry conditions, the track remained tricky and, just like in Friday practice, the race was incident-filled: the first Safety Car was out already after the first lap, when Mexican Ricardo Escotto (Cram Competition) hit the wall.
Both Weug and Blokhina had managed to gain a few positions before the SC intervention and the race went back to green with 22 minute to go.
Antonelli tried to open a gap, but was followed closely by Camara: the Brazilian eventually found a way past the Italian, but there was more drama for the young Mercedes Junior driver soon after, when he slowed down on the main straight and tumbled down the order with a technical issue, ultimately paving the way to Rafael Camara’s victory.
Victoria Blokhina survived some hectic action in the midfield and had a really impressive race, continuing to move up the order: she would climb to P23, when the second Safety Car was deployed: Lund had a big shunt at Tamburello, with his R-Ace GP Tatuus sustaining significant damage.
The race resumed with 2 minutes to go; despite Partyshev ending up in the gravel, local yellows allowed the race to continue and Maya Weug, could get into tenth place – in what was her best result in the series to date and her first overall point in the Italian championship.
Blokhina also kept it clean and finished 17th, in her first top-20 at debut.
All eyes were on Maya Weug on the starting grid of Race 2, as the Iron Dame driver lined up on the second row in third place.
From pole, Lund was slow off the line and Weug – who had a great getaway – had to take evasive action, losing momentum and a few positions.
Domingues fired into the lead, followed by Clerot and Sztuka, as Dunne was also up to fourth just ahead of Maya Weug. Blokhina completed the first lap in 12th place, running with some of the most competitive drivers.
Andrea Kimi Antonelli’s unlucky weekend continued with a contact that forced him to pit at the end of the first lap for a new front wing.
After a great start, Pedro Clerot struggled to keep up the pace and was under pressure from FDA drivers Weug and Wharton. They both managed to overtake the Brazilian, but Wharton could sneak ahead of Weug.
Victoria Blokhina was having a solid race in the midfield when she had contact at the Tamburello chicane with another car and was sent airborne over the sausage kerb. After impact, she managed to rejoin, albeit losing several positions. Her car, though, likely sustained damage, as she struggled from then on.
With Wharton into third place, Weug caught up with Iron Lynx’s teammate Domingues and started an exciting duel that would ultimately see the Dutch lady getting ahead with a great move at Turn 1 on lap 8.
A fourth place seemed locked in for Weug, when a late Safety Car bunched up the field when Flack got stuck in the gravel trap. Martinus Stenshorne had been charging back and had passed Domingues just before the race neutralization – giving the Norwegian a good opportunity at the restart.
With two laps to go, Stenshorne and Amand were faster at the restart, demoting Weug to P6. Alexander Dunne preceded Kacper Sztuka in a US Racing 1-2, with Prema’s James Wharton rounding out the podium.
Nevertheless, Maya Weug scored another top-ten, securing by far her best finish in F4 to date. She was able to recover from the back of the grid on Saturday as well as driving at the front end of the pack after starting up ahead.
With an unfortunate ending, Victoria Blokhina was off in the gravel at the final Safety Car restart and was classified P30.
The two ladies of the 2022 Italian F4 Championship will have another chance later today, with Race 3 scheduled for 17:30. Maya Weug will start again from third place on the grid and will try to keep the upward trend of the first two races at Imola.