Alex Connor says he’ll keep pushing to close the gap to the leaders in the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost standings after a tough weekend for the Arden Motorsport racer at Thruxton.
A solid fourth-place finish in the opening race around the high-speed, 2.3-mile Hampshire circuit proved to be the only drama-free race for the 16-year old; contact whilst on the outside of title rivals Zak O’Sullivan and Luke Browning at Allard in the reverse-grid clash pitched Connor into a spin, and a subsequent black and orange flag for mechanical damage ended his race prematurely.
Another incident in race three – this time at the Complex with Browning and O’Sullivan’s Carlin team mate Christian Mansell left the #27 car facing the wrong way. What followed proved to be one of the recovery drives of the season so far, complete with the fastest lap, as Connor stormed back through the pack to finish fifth on the road behind Browning, then fourth after the officials decided to reverse the positions post-race.
Connor remains in the hunt for the championship with 11 races and up to 275 points still on the table, but believes race victories would have been possible without the two incidents.
“It wasn’t a bad weekend, because there are a lot of positives to take away from it, pace-wise and all that,” he explained.
“I think it could have been a really good weekend, obviously getting caught up in a crash at the start of race two, and then having mechanical stuff go wrong [meant] I had to retire, and then race three [I got] caught up in another incident, but then the pace was really good and if that crash hadn’t have happened, I think we would have been fighting for the lead in that race, because I think I was three tenths quicker than anyone else.”
Giving an insight into his mentality after the incident in race three, Connor says it was a ‘nothing to lose’ situation, and a solid run from thereon in enabled him to make progress back up the order.
“When I was at the back, I had nothing to lose, I was last anyway so I was pushing as hard as I could to try and catch up,” he continued.
“I didn’t make any mistakes at all, overtook and passed everyone that I came across and didn’t waste any time sat behind anyone. Eventually [I] caught Browning, but it was a bit too late.”
Connor can no doubt take heart from the recent showings of James Hedley and Casper Stevenson; both have capitalised on an off-weekend for the points leaders to close in, and with Connor not far behind, a strong weekend could be just the tonic to give his hopes a boost.
“It’ll be tough to win all three races at another track, because the tracks that we have next aren’t the easiest to overtake on, whereas Thruxton you just drive up behind someone and tow round them and then that’s the move down, basically,” he explained.
“I think, obviously, I have nothing to lose, there’s quite a gap behind me now in the championship and a bit of a gap in front, so I’ll just try my hardest.”
Britain’s FIA Formula 4 series heads next to Silverstone, Northamptonshire, for Rounds 17,18 and 19, with Connor optimistic of a good showing at the home of the British Grand Prix.
Before that, drivers will have two days to get acquainted with the National circuit, with a championship-organised test day ahead of two practice sessions on Friday [25 Sep].
“I feel like it’s quite a good track to race on, hopefully it goes well, I think we had pace there in testing and obviously we’ll find out tomorrow. I think it’ll go well,” concluded Connor.