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Nina Gademan makes F4 debut at Donington Park, scores first points

Nina Gademan made her F4 racing debut at Donington Park, where the Dutchwoman managed to fight back from a challenging start of the weekend to move up the order in the races, which gained her the first three points of the season and a top five among the rookies.

Nina Gademan, Fortec Motorsport, British F4, 2024 Donington Park
Photo credits: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Nina Gademan made her F4 racing debut at Donington Park, which hosted the first round of the 2024 ROKiT British Formula 4 Championship. The Fortec Motorsport driver battled with a lack of track time in the build up to qualifying and, while her weekend was off to a rocky start due to a technical issue in practice, the Dutchwoman managed to fight back and move up the order in the races, which gained her her first three points of the season.

A gold medalist in the karting slalom discipline at the first ever edition of the FIA World Motorsport Games, Gademan graduated to cars after an exciting karting career and mainly raced in touring cars and GT racing domestically: she competed in the PTC Cup with a Citroen C1 and was best rookie, then took part in the 24 Hours of Zolder as part of an all-female line-up in 2022, finishing second in class. She entered Belcar events as well as endurance races, before starting a F4 testing program in 2023, as she prepared for her single seater debut.

Gademan joined experienced team Fortec Motorsport for her British F4 campaign and made significant progress in pre-season testing, where she steadily climbed the order and proved to be a contender for points.

The weather, though, was not kind to the 20 year old driver in the build up to the season opener at Donington Park: rain in her only previous test at the track meant that she entered the first weekend of the year with a lack of mileage in dry conditions - and mixed weather on Thursday continued that trend. Furthermore, a technical issue prevented her from running any competitive laps in the second session - and the driver of the #3 Tatuus was left with a mountain to climb after the first day at Donington.

Qualifying was held on Saturday morning and, with minimal experience of the new tyres in dry conditions, Gademan struggled to maximise her potential.

“I haven’t had a lot of dry running at Donington Park, which meant it was a little bit difficult as qualifying was the first time I went out on new tyres, so I had to find the limit in a short space of time", she explained.

Nina set the 21st fastest time, in an extremely tightly contested session that saw 20 cars covered by one second. However, considering her lack of running and two laps deleted for track limits, the gap of 1.047 to pole sitter Alex Ninovic represented a promising step. Her second-fastest lap, a 1:05.844 - again barely a second to the top - was good enough to P20 on the grid of race 1.

Few spots of rain appeared just ahead of the start of the first race of the season, but the track remained dry at the start. From third on the grid, Deegan Faiclough had a sterling start and took over the lead into turn 1, as Rodin Motorsport's James Higgins and Alex Ninovic lost out to the Hitech driver.

Gademan had a positive start and moved up one position, then battled with Chloe Chong on the first lap, eventually grabbing P18.

Meanwhile, Fairclough had opened a 4.5 second gap in front, with Higgins and Ninovic fighting for second place - and with a safe enough margin on Cui. Mid-way through the race, Gademan was holding on well to P18, when she fell behind Scoular and Bergstrom on lap 12.

On lap 16, August Raber went off in the gravel and brought out a red flag - the race wasn't resumed and Nina Gademan completed her first ever race in Formula 4 machinery with her first top-20 in what is arguably one of the most competitive F4 grids in Europe.

"The start of race one was decent, and I overtook some people, but then I fell back from the cars ahead" - she said: Nevertheless, with her P19 - eighth among the rookies - she moved up one place from her starting position.

Rain was forecasted for Sunday - and indeed the rainstorm hit the track in the morning, forcing all racing activities to be heavily delayed. The second race could start in the late afternoon, with not enough time to contest the third race of the weekend.

Due to its new format, the partial reverse grid saw the top-12 inversion, with the remaining positions set by the qualifying fastest lap. This put Gademan P21 on the grid.

Nina held position at the start and throughout the first lap, when the safety car was deployed for the stricken car of Martin Molnar at the final chicane.

From the third grid slot, Alex Berg had taken the lead at turn 1, followed by Mika Abrahams and Jack Sherwood, after reverse-grid pole sitter Joel Bergstrom had slipped to sixth.

Drivers from third to the back of the pack were separated by a handful of seconds and there were many position changes in the busy midfield. Nina picked up one position on Scoular on lap 13, then enjoyed a great battle with Chong, Fu and Raber, as her pace switched on in the second half of the race.

After 17 laps, Mika Abrahams inherited the victory after Alex Berg was handed two separate penalties and dropped to sixth; Deagan Fairclough was second and preceded Jack Sherwood on the podium. With a solid second race, Gademan crossed the finish line in P18, fifth among the rookies. The three positions gained over the race therefore earned her the first points of the season, as she now sits 15th in the drivers' standings.

“I didn’t expect to have a dry race on Sunday, and I struggled to get the max out of the cold tyres, so the pace came for me a little late", Nina summed up. "At the end I made up a few places in the final laps, so I just need to work on getting the pace from the start. We know what we need to work on, so when we do that things will be fine."

Coming up next in two weeks' time will be the second round at Brands Hatch on the Indy course, where Nina has shown impressive speed in testing, with also appearances in the top five: "For Brands I already feel more confident as we’ve done more testing there and my lap times were good”.

ROKiT British Formula 4 will be back on track on 11-12 May.



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