UAE: Championship title goes to wire next weekend in F4 finale at Dubai Autodrome between Weerts and Schumacher
Abu Dhabi, UAE, February 25, 2018 – Two new race winners were crowned at Round 5 of the 2017/18 F4UAE Championship powered by Abarth, as both Dragon Motopark F4’s Amaury Cordeel and BWT Mücke Motorsport’s William Alatalo scored their first career open-wheeler victories at Yas Marina Circuit last weekend (February 23-24).
With nine different drivers adoring the top step of the podium this season so far, the championship fight will also go down to the grand finale this weekend at the Dubai Autodrome, where Dragon Motopark F4’s Charles Weerts (#88) and Rasgaira Motorsports/US Racing’s David Schumacher (#27) are just 13-points apart in the championship standings.
“To have the F4UAE title being decided in Dubai between two very fast and committed drivers will be very exciting for the championship,” said Mohamed Ben Sulayem, President of the ATCUAE, Chairman of the Emirates Motor Sport Federation and FIA Vice President for Sport.
“It has been an exciting season with so many different young race winners getting their first taste of victory here in the Middle East, and many international teams joining us to help the championship to grow. Congratulations to all the drivers who have won so far and we wish everyone a successful event in Dubai at the final round.”
Despite a condensed field of eight international drivers for the penultimate round of the season, the first race of the weekend was won by a now four-time winner Weerts, then Cordeel for Race 2, followed by a double-victory by Alatalo in the last two 30-minute races.
For the final time this season, the 5.55km GP configuration of Yas Marina Circuit and its support starting grid and paddock were in play.
Tom Beckhäuser (#95) made a team switch from CRAM Motorsport to US Racing for the final two rounds, a move deemed positive with more time being found and progression towards the faster end of pitlane during early practice and testing.
However, 16-year-old David Schumacher was unbeatable again, topping the official qualifying session for the third time in his four round starts with a time of 12m11.525 seconds.
Schumacher and Weerts got off the line equally for Race 1 however it was the young championship leader from Belgium who got the better start, taking the lead on the opening lap. Alatalo (#6) and Cordeel (#888) battled for third and fourth places all race until a safety car was deployed for Niklas Krütten (#5) after crashing out at turn one in the closing laps. A last-lap restart saw the field cross a final time with Weerts taking the chequered flag ahead of Schumacher and Cordeel.
Race 2 started with an inverted top-six grid, with Dragon Motopark F4’s Lucas Alecco Roy (#8) on pole position alongside Beckhäuser who took the race lead on lap one. However, driver error handed the lead back to a hard-charging Cordeel who took over mid-race. Battles mid-pack continued with SILBERPFEIL Energy Dubai’s Lucas Petersson (#22) who ran in second place for most of the race, but it was the category’s two championship rivals Schumacher and Weerts who finished a commendable second and third respectively behind the Dragon Motopark F4 driver by race’s end.
With a 19-point gap between Schumacher and Weerts heading into Race 3, Schumacher started again from pole however the Belgian racer baulked his start, giving Alatalo and Cordeel a free shot up into second and third place by the first corner. Weerts fell back to fifth behind Roy, however gained the spot back on the same lap, and then another as Cordeel ran wide under the hotel. With the running order being Schumacher, Alatalo and Weerts, it was Alatalo’s charge up the inside of Schumacher at Turn 11 that gave the Finnish driver the lead and the eventual win; his first in F4 racing.
The final race’s grid saw Petersson on pole, while Beckhäuser – who was meant to start P2 – failed to start the race due to technical repairs not being able to be completed in time on his car between races. Petersson stalled on the start, Krütten took the jump in front of Weerts, and Schumacher and Alatalo battled wheel-to-wheel during the opening stages. Alatalo’s passing prowess from Race 3 shone again in Race 4, moving past Schumacher in order to chase down his leading Mücke Motorsport teammate. Picking off his rivals one lap at a time, Alatalo was too fast for the leaders and took a four second gap by the chequered flag over Krütten second and Weerts third.
Weerts currently leads the drivers championship on 277 points, 13 points ahead of Schumacher with both drivers being the only two in contention for the title; which would be either driver’s first crown in open-wheeler racing.
In the teams championship, SILBERPEFEIL Energy Dubai leads by 29 points over Dragon Motopark F4, with both in contention to take that title at the season finale next weekend in Dubai.
Full championship standings are available on http://www.f4uae.com/events/ 2017-18-points
The grand finale of the 2017/18 F4UAE Championship, Round 6, will be held at the Dubai Autodrome this coming weekend, March 2-3, 2018.
Amaury Cordeel (BEL), #888 Dragon Motopark F4: “It has been difficult this year because it is the first time in the car. Before I crashed much and made mistakes but now finally I am more confident and I have been working very hard to learn and get improve. The setup has been really good this weekend and the car felt better and it’s just great to win. Of course everyone wants to win but I feel great it has happened and to prove that I can do it.”
William Alatalo (FIN), #6 BWT Mücke Motorsport: “It feels great, my first wins in F4. It’s been some awesome racing and a lot of racing that’s been helping me to improve my skills. I hope I will be as good in the Italian F4 Championship this year as I was here in the UAE.”
Frank Lucke, Team Manager of BWT Mücke Motorsport:”Happy is not the right word, we are insanely happy for what we did here in the two rounds of F4UAE. For the whole team and for the drivers it was a big step to get familiar with everything; the race tracks, the tyres. Finally we have a double victory and at their age they are quite young, so they have been improving every race and learning quite quickly. Yes they make mistakes but that is why we are here so that they can be more prepared when we start testing in Italy in two weeks. The drivers will take a lot of self-confidence from these results.”