Maya Weug completes FRECA season with third in the rookies classification
Despite an unlucky final round at Hockenheim, Ferrari Driver Academy driver Maya Weug completed a brilliant rookie season in Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine by securing third place among the rookies' standings.
Ferrari Driver Academy driver Maya Weug completed a stellar rookie season in Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine, having collected 27 points across the 10 events, finishing six times among the point scorers.
Weug, who entered the season after 2 years in Italian Formula 4, joined Finnish squad KIC Motorsport with support from Ferrari, and showed great progression through the season to establish herself as a consistent presence in the top ten by mid season onwards.
Weug claimed her first top-15 at Imola in her first round of the season, then endured more challenging rounds at Barcelona and Hungaroring but bounced back at Spa, where she was the protagonist of a superb performance that saw the Dutch-Belgian racer finishing securing seventh and sixth. Maya carried momentum at Mugello - one of the most physical tracks of the championship - where she proved that her results were not a one-off; two more point-scoring finishes followed at Paul Ricard.
Throughout the first part of the year, Weug improved both in race pace as well as qualifying - a crucial part of the FRECA weekend, as the over 30 car fields typical of the European Formula Regional series make for tough recoveries. Nevertheless, Weug often made great recoveries and never gave up even in the most challenging races.
Monza was another good chance to showcase her speed and Weug seized the opportunity with a smart qualifying strategy to claim a ninth place in race 1 and battled again for points in race 2, eventually finishing P13.
The final two race meetings were more unfortunate for the KIC Motorsport driver; difficult qualifyings made for tricky races, but Maya still gained several positions in race 1 at Zandvoort as well as in Hockenheim. Only a few days after a horrific crash in the second race at Zandvoort - where a heavy downpour resulted in very limited visibility even behind the safety car, luckily to no physical harm for the drivers involved - Weug was back behind the wheel for the season finale of Hockenheim, in another mixed-weather weekend to wrap up the season.
Maya quickly shrugged off the accident and was in the top end of the leaderboard in FP2; she then ended tenth fastest in the Group B of Q1 - which would set the grid for the second race. In the afternoon, she set a 1:37.216 that put her 11th in her group in Q2, which eventually translated into a P21 starting position for the first race of the weekend.
Having topped her group, Van Amersfoort's Kas Haverkort bagged pole position, ahead of Rafael Camara, Martinius Stenshorne and Tim Tramnitz. From second, fellow Ferrari Driver Academy member Camara took the lead at lights out; it was an equally great launch for Weug, who moved up to P16 on the first lap, before the safety car was deployed for the stationary car of Ivan Domingues after turn 1.
At the restart, Maya held 17th, as Tim Tramnitz seized the lead from Camara in an action-packed first green flag lap. A big battle just ahead of Maya saw the KIC driver looking for the perfect opportunity to make up positions, as Tangavelou, Giusti and Ramos banged wheels with 16 minutes to go.
A second safety car was deployed when Sainteloc teammates Fittipaldi and Masson collided at the hairpin. As she tried to find a way past the G4 Motorsports drivers, Weug fell to P19. The green flag was out once again one lap later - but two unrelated accidents for Valentin Kluss and Owen Tangavelou brought out another neutralization in a very disrupted first race.
Up to 18th, Maya fought elbows out with Marcus Amand - while Tramnitz and Camara went side by side for the lead. The Red Bull junior held on, and it would be Martinius Stenshorne to claim second, following his R-Ace GP teammate after a superb move at Turn 8.
Weug chased Durksen but couldn't make a move in the closing laps and crossed the finish line in P18, having made up 3 positions from the start. It was her 14th top-20 finish out of 19 races.
German Tim Tramnitz claimed victory at Hockenheim, preceding Stenshorne by over a second. Nikita Bedrin passed Camara and claimed third in the final laps.
Closing out the 2023 season, the second race on Sunday was again a very disrupted one - as several accidents in the midfield brought out two safety cars.
From 16th on the grid, Weug had shown enough pace to aim for the points and she was off to a charging start: she battled with Masson and Durksen over the first lap.
Behind her, Marcus Amand was hit by Provost at the hairpin, while newly-crowned champion Kimi Antonelli fought wheel to wheel with Tramnitz and went off at the Mercedes Arena, rejoining eleventh. Stenshorne had fired into the lead from second place and preceded Camara and Tramnitz.
Maya picked up another position on lap 2, when Giusti spun at the hairpin from ninth; one lap later, it would be Valentin Kluss' turn to be tagged and spun around at Turn 6 after contact with Zagazeta - who was left with a broken front wing.
Four laps into the race, Weug attacked Durksen at the hairpin - but a mistake from Masson resulted in the Sainteloc driver plowing into the back of Maya's #64 KIC car. The accident brought out the safety car with 23 minutes to go and, albeit Weug could eventually continue, she had dropped to the tail end of the field.
The race resumed 2 laps later: Stenshorne and Camara battled side by side and were joined by Tramnitz for the lead - just as the Alpine safety car was out again to retrieve the crashed Tatuus of Ivan Klymenko, who went airborne at turn 6 after contact with Sagrera. Weug avoided the incident and was ready to charge back after the new restart, where she avoided yet another incident between Meguetounif and Van Hoepen.
Now up to P22, Maya chased Kluss while defending from the recovering Van Hoepen. With 6 minutes to go Tramnitz overtook Camara around the outside of Turn 10 - making it a R-Ace GP 1-2 as the team battled Prema for the team's title.
Maya lost one place to Van Hoepen but gained one on Lebbon - as Sagrera and Fittipaldi collided just behind her at the hairpin.
Having passed Provost on the penultimate lap of the race, Maya Weug completed a highly positive rookie season in Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine with P21 - a result that did not reflect her pace in Hockenheim, but that still showcased her fighting spirit after being spun around in the opening stages of the race.
Stenshorne claimed victory - but with a stunning lap lap pass, Antonelli moved up to sixth and therefore secured Prema the team's championship over R-Ace GP.
While it wasn't another top ten, a good recovery from last was a positive end to a learning-oriented season for Weug, who managed to take victory among the rookies at Spa and, with seventh in class in the final race, she held on to third in the rookies championship standings.
She finished P17 in the overall classification - with 42 drivers eligible for points - and was the only KIC Motorsport driver to score points.
"That’s a wrap on the 2023 season!" - Weug wrote. "Lots of learning moments, a rookie win in Spa with 3rd in the rookie standings at the end of the season, and many other positives to take from this year. Kiitos KIC Motorsport for all the hard work and Ferrari Driver Academy for supporting and believing in me. Now it’s time to relax a little, and start to prepare for next season."