F4 UAE Round 1

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.

Here is Smal fighting for, and taking P3, where he finished

Race 4: before and after SC

In a repeat of Race 3, Smal came from behind to take P3 shortly before SC appearance. Then he took P2 at the restart. And then…. he won the race but the lead change was never shown. Once again, more is left to our imagination.

Prema/FDA 2020 outcomes

This is a follow-up to Prema/FDA Venn diagram which summarizes the outcomes of 2020 season for the drivers listed there. The 2021 FDA status is not known at present.

Formula 2

Prema & FDA

  • Mick Schumacher: P1, moves up to F1
  • Robert Shwartzman: P4, stays in F2 with Prema

FDA only

  • Callum Ilott: P2
  • Marcus Armstrong: P13
  • Giuliano Alesi: P17

Formula 3

Prema

  • Oscar Piastri: P1, moves up to F2 with Prema
  • Logan Sargeant: P3
  • Frederik Vesti: P4

FDA

  • Enzo Fittipaldi: P15

Formula Regional

Prema & FDA

  • Gianluca Petecof: P1
  • Arthur Leclerc: P2, moves up to F3 with Prema

Prema

  • Oliver Rasmussen: P3
  • Jamie Chadwick: P9

Formula 4

Prema & FDA

  • Dino Beganovic: P3, moves up to FR with Prema

Prema

  • Gabriele Minì: P1
  • Gabriel Bortoleto: P5
  • Sebastian Montoya: P11

Italian F4 champions

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.

YearChampionRunner-upMargin
2019Dennis HaugerGianluca Petecof58.4%
2015Ralf AronGuanyu Zhou48.4%
2014Lance StrollMattia Drudi39.7%
2020Gabriele MinìFrancesco Pizzi36.5%
2017Marcus ArmstrongJob van Uitert14.6%
2018Enzo FittipaldiLeonardo Lorandi7.4%
2016Marcos SiebertMick Schumacher6.9%

Quite a few familiar names in this table. Instead of a complete “where are they know”, here is a sample.

  • F1: Mick Schumacher, Lance Stroll
  • F2: Marcus Armstrong, Guanyu Zhou
  • F3: Enzo Fittipaldi, Dennis Hauger

Moving up, 2020-21

Tracking the movement of drivers between the following categories: F1, F2, F3, FR (“regional”), and F4 (but not those coming into F4, of which there are too many).

F2 to F1

  1. Nikita Mazepin
  2. Mick Schumacher
  3. Yuki Tsunoda

F3 to F2

  1. Liam Lawson
  2. Oscar Piastri
  3. Lirim Zendeli

F4 to F3

  1. Jak Crawford
  2. Jonny Edgar

Skipping FR is a risky move, but it worked out spectacularly for some (Pourchaire in 2020).

FR to F3

  1. Ayumu Iwasa
  2. Arthur Leclerc

Iwasa appears here and below because he moves from F4 to F3 while contesting FR Asia in between.

F4 to FR

  1. Eduardo Barrichello
  2. Dino Beganovic
  3. Ayumu Iwasa
  4. Hunter Yeany

Championships: from most to least competitive

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.

SeriesChampionRunner-upPercentage
F4 GermanyEdgarCrawford99.3
F4 BritainBrowningO’Sullivan99.0
F3PiastriPourchaire98.2
FR EuropePetecofLeclerc95.5
F2SchumacherIlott93.5
F4 UAEPizziFluxá91.3
F3 BritainFrederickMaini89.8
Formula RenaultMartinsCollet87.4
FR AsiaAldersDoohan86.1
F4 USAYeanyBlanco80.0
F4 FranceIwasaSato76.0
F4 ItalyMinìPizzi73.2
F4 SpainHaverkortBoya71.0
FR AmericasLundqvistMalukas70.6
EuroformulaYeDunner67.2
F1HamiltonBottas64.3
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.

Revolving doors of FREC and Italian F4

In both of these championships, drivers come and go, due to schedule conflicts, travel restrictions, or the twists and turns of their superlicence quest. Out of nowhere, Ian Rodriguez won in his first race at regional F3 level, having never won a race (beyond carting) before.

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

RankDriverPointsRacesAPR
1Petecof3372116.05
2Leclerc3352115.95
3Hauger91615.17
4Rodriguez45315.00
5Rasmussen3032114.43
6Pasma2642112.57
7Chovet2292110.90
8Vips8199.00
9Famularo7398.11
10Lappalainen118215.62
Top 10 by APR in FREC after Imola
Graph of 1-2 finishes

Italian F4

The championship table re-sorted by APR, after Imola.

RankDriverPointsRacesAPR
1Minì2761815.33
2Crawford1401211.67
3Edgar1291210.75
4Pizzi1911810.61
5Beganovic168189.33
6Dürksen5669.33
7Bearman5268.67
8Ugran127158.47
9Rosso139187.72
10Bortoleto133187.39
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.

1-2 finishes in Italian F4

2020 season: Turkey update

Formula 1

The graph of 1-2 finishes became a little bigger.

Formula Renault Eurocup

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.

EuroFormula Open

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.

ADAC F4

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).

2020 season as of Great Britain

Formula 3

Graph of 1-2 finishes. Symmetric large component centers at Piastri, yet Vesti-Zendeli stay separate

Combined Great Britain podium (by total points earned):

  1. Lawson (32)
  2. Sargeant (27)
  3. Novalak/Peroni/Piastri/Vesti (tied at 18)

Most consistent in 2020 so far: Beckmann, finished in top 10 in every race.

Unbeaten in intra-team qualifying competition: Peroni.

Formula 2

Graph of 1-2 finishes. Oddly enough, it still has 4 components

Combined Great Britain podium (by total points earned):

  1. Mazepin (31)
  2. Lundgaard (26)
  3. Zhou (20)

Most consistent in 2020 so far: Mazepin, finished in top 14 in every race.

Unbeaten in intra-team qualifying competition: Aitken, Drugovich, Lundgaard, Ticktum.

Formula 1

Graph of 1-2 finishes: a path, an unlikely pattern to hold, yet remaining unchanged since Hungary

Most consistent in 2020 so far: Hamilton, finished in top 4 in every race.

Unbeaten in intra-team qualifying competition: Gasly, Russell*, Verstappen.

(*) A penalty put Russell behind Latifi on the grid, but he did qualify ahead.

Bonus feeder series

U.S. F4 Championship currently has a nice symmetric graph in which the championship leader Yeany is a vertex of degree 4.

Prema/FDA Venn diagram

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.

LevelPrema onlyPrema and FDAFDA only
F2Mick Schumacher
Robert Shwartzman
Giuliano Alesi
Marcus Armstrong
Callum Ilott
F3Oscar Piastri
Frederik Vesti
Logan Sargeant
Enzo Fittipaldi
FROliver Rasmussen
Jamie Chadwick
Arthur Leclerc
Gianluca Petecof
F4Sebastian Montoya
Gabriele Mini
Gabriele Bortoleto
Dino Beganovic

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.

Formula Americas Network

The weekend June 26-28 saw the beginning of three things:

  1. 2020 season of Formula Regional Americas Championship (FRAC)
  2. 2020 season of U.S. Formula 4 Championship (USF4)
  3. Formula Americas Network (FAN) where 1 and 2 are broadcast.

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.