Some memorable moments of the first round of the first single-seater championship of 2021.
Round 1: Martí crash
The tire tracks explain what happened to the 100-meter mark, but how did the 50-meter mark get destroyed? Here is a link to the moment of incident: unfortunately, for a while the camera was following other cars.
Could motor racing be more interesting when more is left to viewers’ imagination? F4 UAE tested this theory throughout the weekend.
Race 3: fight for P3
Given that 8 out of 14 drivers are in the same team (Xcel) would not it be nice for them to have a few distinct liveries? The minor color accents do not help very much when following the action through hand-held camera from large distance… Props to Kirill Smal and his SMP Racing sponsors for making at least one of the Xcel cars instantly recognizable with its tricolor livery.
Gabriele Minì won the 2020 championship by a large margin, but how does it compare to other years? With 7 seasons of the oldest FIA F4 championship behind us, let’s compare the champions by their point margin relative to the runner-up, sorted from largest to smallest.
Job van Uitert
Quite a few familiar names in this table. Instead of a complete “where are they know”, here is a sample.
One way to measure the level of competition in a championship is to divide the points earned by the runner-up by the champion’s points. Expressed as a percentage, this quantity is between 0 and 100. Measured by it, ADAC Formula 4 was the most competitive championship in 2020, while Formula 1 was the least competitive.
Omitted: a few series I don’t bother reading about
Consider that FR Americas uses the same scoring system as F1, and its season also had 17 races. Lundqvist won 15 out of 17 (finishing P2 and P6 in the other two), and even that championship was closer than F1.
In a situation like this, the average points per race (APR) becomes of interest. Here is the table of FREC 2020 after Imola, sorted by APR
Top 10 by APR in FREC after Imola
The championship table re-sorted by APR, after Imola.
Italian F4 by APR
Not listed: Montoya in 12th place with 81 points after 18 races, with 4.50 APR. Even more disappointingly, his best result so far is P5, while three other full-time Prema team members won at least one race each.
Overall, Minì left the competition far behind, but Jak Crawford’s effort has been remarkable: besides being second by APR , he is 4th in the official standings despite missing two out of six rounds held so far.
The last ever season of Eurocup ended with Martins as champion and a neat graph of 1-2 finishes. One can point to the Martins-Collets battle as evidence of championship drama, but it was mostly a snoozer with few notable position changes after the first lap.
Biggest disappointment: Paul Aron. One P2 and far too many unforced errors.
CryptoTower Racing won 16 out of 18 races… divided 11:5 between Ye and Dunner. But if one puts aside the four races that Dunner missed because of schedule clashes, the win counts are nearly even, 7:5. This is a championship fight that could have been but wasn’t.
The Edgar-Crawford fight was intense and entertainting, but overall the season was a disappointment by comparison with 2019. Prema team dropped out after two rounds, Pizzi (VAR) left one round later, and US Racing fell far short of replicating the strength of their 2019 lineup. The contest between Edgar and Crawford largely came down to who got torpedoed more often (Crawford, as it seemed to me).
Remembering the names of Prema drivers isn’t so hard: a driver usually has the same name in 2020 as in 2019. But their affiliation with Ferrari Driver Academy is less stable. A Venn diagram of who is in Prema, who is in FDA, and who is in both, is called for.
But since the drivers are also divided by level, I will use a table instead.
Prema and FDA
Mick Schumacher Robert Shwartzman
Giuliano Alesi Marcus Armstrong Callum Ilott
Oscar Piastri Frederik Vesti Logan Sargeant
Oliver Rasmussen Jamie Chadwick
Arthur Leclerc Gianluca Petecof
Sebastian Montoya Gabriele Mini Gabriele Bortoleto
FDA is currently top-heavy, with 5 of 9 drivers competing in F2. This necessitates placing three of them outside of Prema’s F2 team. There is only one instance of Prema running non-FDA drivers while an FDA driver is left outside… this does not inspire confidence in Enzo Fittipaldi’s future in FDA.
Overall, the events went well, considering the circumstances: the pandemic, stormy weather on the track, technical issues with the broadcast. I appreciated the rare opportunity to understand the work of a broadcast director, given by the glitch that for half of the first race put through director’s voice instead of the commentators. The audience reached 1000 viewers during FRAC Race 2; the audience of USF4 topped at around 250.
FAN uses Vimeo to stream races. A few times I got stuck in a video stream that was not the current one: the solution was to refresh the page and click Live Streaming again, which moved me from an old stream (previous race or “this event has not started yet”) to the live picture.
It would be nice to have an archive of past FAN races. Hopefully this is something FAN is planning to add, along with a YouTube channel.
Both series feature strong grids in 2020, thanks in part to reduced competition (no Indy Lights in 2020, etc). There were 17 drivers in the FRAC event, including some familiar names: Lundqvist, Car, Pedersen,…. With 33 competitors in USF4, many of them new to single-seaters, it is no wonder that the first event had several delays due to accidents.
Jay Howard Driver Development (JHDD) entered with 6 drivers in USF4 and consistently took a few of the top spots. Previously, two of their F4 drivers were 1-2 in a testing session, which set up a joint interview with Christian Bogle (6’4” / 205 lbs) and Nolan Siegel (5’4” / 100 lbs). Apparently the former has been cutting weight while the latter eats a cupcake before each race, so the contrast in appearance might be getting smaller with time.
So far, JHDD appears to put more emphasis on driver promotion than most USF4/FRAC teams. Not nearly as much as Prema does in European series, but that’s a high bar to meet…
By the way, this video was shot before Roman Stanek was replaced by Jamie Chadwick in Prema’s FREC lineup. Roman appears in group shots while Jamie’s solo shots are obviously late additions.