Formula 4: Hard lessons for Malaysian teenager Rahul Mayer at Brands Hatch
Brands Hatch, UK- Monday, May 20th, 2013-16 year old Malaysian Hillspeed driver Rahul Mayer experienced an action packed weekend during the second event of the BRDC Formula 4 Championship held at one of UKs shortest and most iconic circuits, Brands Hatch. Racing on the short 1.2mile Indy Circuit it was an incident-filled race meeting that took its toll on many of the young competitors as they shared the weekend’s timetable with the popular German DTM series.
Rahul arrived full of expectation and confidence to race on this circuit for the very first time, having not tested here before, it was going to be a steep learning curve for the youngster.
Racing with a totally new car since the Silverstone rounds, practice threw some technical gremlins into the mix when Rahul suffered a wiring issue during session one, it was soon rectified but left Rahul with a limited time overall during practice.
Qualifying for took place on Saturday at 12 noon, Rahul was carrying a five grid penalty from the previous round and so started on the grid in 22nd place. He managed to set a fastest time of 46.56 with a difference of only 1.17s off the pole position.
During the first of the weekend’s races (round four) Rahul elected to start the race on pre-worn tyres from qualifying, he held his 22nd position but slipped to 23rd. Rahul managed to chip away at his lap time and finished with a best time of 46.87s, a mere 0.8s off race winner Jake Dalton, demonstrating the closeness of this championship.
After race one Rahul had this to say, “I have set myself some manageable goals this weekend to try to learn more about the car and the technique needed for this track as I have never tested here before so It is going to be a tough weekend and I fully expect to work extremely hard to maintain a good pace throughout the weekend. So far I’m quiet satisfied I have only eight tenths of a second off the best time so far and I know there is still room for refinement. It’s a little disappointing being at the back though and I didn’t have many cars to race with so I’m looking forward to race two tomorrow,” he said.
During the morning of Sundays races all the drivers took a private Q&A session with Formula 1 McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button, who had this to say to the young drivers.
“As we all know, racing doesn’t always go to plan as I’m experiencing right now!. Whether you have a good race or a bad race you’ve got to stay strong and in the bad times, that’s when you really learn what person you are and what you’re going to grow into. It’s about knuckling down when times are tough and focusing on the areas you probably wouldn’t even think about focusing on. You’ve got to learn how to improve yourself in many different ways. There’s also the engineering, fitness and nutrition and there’s so many areas where you need to work on to really reach the pinnacle of the sport and we all know how tough it is.”
With the finishing order from race one determining the starting order for race two, albeit with the top eight reversed. Race two took place on Sunday at 2:40pm, with wet weather predicted; Rahul was hoping for rain so that he could have a slight advantage. The weather however turned out to be glorious sunshine, pleasing the many thousands of spectators camped out on Paddock Hill.
Rahul made a marked improvement during this second race where he took a strong 14th place which he maintained into lap 17 before running wide at Druids corner after a slight coming together with another driver on lap four at Clearways corner. In a separate incident Hillspeed team mate Seb Morris also had a big accident on the Brabham straight that brought a lengthy Safety Car period between laps six and thirteen. After the re-start Rahul diced with Dylon Phibbs and was forced to run wide at Druids allowing just enough space for the following three cars to skip past, he was then shuffled back finishing in 17th with a best time of 47.81s.
Running on pre-worn tyres for all the races, severely limited the attack mode for Rahul during the weekend. Race three (round six), took place at 4:30pm just as the sun was setting and after leading the mid pack of cars for four laps, Rahul was pushed wide and spun off into the grass at Druids corner again, allowing the remaining cars to pass as he regained the track. Rahul posted a time of 47.916, finishing in 19th place.
Rahul had this to say after race three, “I really didn’t know what to expect from this last race as I was on older tyres again and after getting pushed out onto the grass on Druids corner, I spun off track completely, I was really enjoying the race till that point as I was fighting with Gosia Redst most of the way. I’m still upbeat however after that disappointing finish as I have learned so much since the last round, and I will keep pushing to get the best out of the car and myself for the next race in Snetterton. I have managed to finish all six races so far and gather some valuable points which is reassuring, since I don’t have the financial backing yet to do more testing and practice which really makes all the difference when your battling to find just tenths of a second.”
“I will now head back to Malaysia tonight to study, as already I have missed some exams to be here, it’s a tough choice when you are 16 with school and racing.”
“Overall I’ve had a good weekend here and I really want to thank the team at Hillspeed for preparing a great car for me and to my father and management team who are here to support me, its reassuring that I have this support as I go through this exciting journey in my motorsport career.”
The BRDC Formula 4 Championship now takes a four week break from action with the third event of 2013 taking place on 15th/16th June at Snetterton in East Anglia.
Provisional 2013 BRDC Formula 4 Championship Standings (after Rd6): 19th place with 22pts