- Quinn records quickest time of the day in dry final session.
- Caroline tops rain-hit free practice two.
- Simmons fastest in changeable conditions in first session.
11 AUGUST, 2017 – F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost drivers faced an array of weather conditions in testing at Knockhill ahead of qualifying and four races this weekend. With rain affecting the first and second sessions it relented late in the afternoon to provide valuable dry running and it was TRS Arden’s Alex Quinn who laid down a marker heading into the weekend by posting the quickest time.
The Cornish racer, who already has one British F4 victory to his name at Knockhill, toured the 1.27-mile Fife track 0.086s faster than the race lap record set by Luis Leeds last year with a time of 49.728s.
Quinn underlined his strength by rattling off multiple laps below the 50-second mark, indicating that the 2016 British F4 Rookie Champion is certainly not going to lack race pace this weekend. This followed excelling in the wet second session when finishing second only to Jamie Caroline.
“Even though we weren’t quickest in the first session, we were quite a lot quicker than most people and that was with old tyres so that was a really positive start to the day,” explained Quinn.
“More rain came for the second session and I love driving in the wet, especially around this track. It’s absolutely awesome. It’s by far my favourite track on the calendar.
“All four TRS Arden drivers have shown really good pace today and that’s excellent because we can all learn from each other to go even faster.
“In the last session the car felt really good so we’re in a strong place, but it’s not going to be easy this weekend. The times are really close. Importantly for me I was consistently in the 49-second bracket which underlines that we’ve got good race pace too.”
With times tumbling in free practice three as track conditions improved and drivers grew in confidence, championship leader Caroline was just 0.070s adrift of Quinn on his best lap. It rounded off a strong day for the Carlin driver who looked back to his exuberant self on track after a quiet weekend by his standards last time out at Snetterton.
Caroline shone in the second session when he stormed his way to the top of the times in the worst of the conditions by a margin of over three tenths of a second.
“We scrubbed our wet tyres when the track was dry so everyone got more running in the dry on slicks this morning,” said Caroline. “I set my best time in that session on slicks, but when it was raining so everyone else got the chance to get four more laps worth of heat in their tyres.
“I really enjoy driving around this circuit. I love Knockhill. Even though I was quickest in FP2 on old wet tyres, we’ve been struggling with some technical niggles so I’m not completely happy because it’s hindering our ability to be consistent.
“Handling wise things are a lot better compared to Snetterton and we worked on the balance in FP3. The car has got a great front end on it which is nice to have because you can throw it into the corner. It will oversteer a little and rotate into the corner and then as you pick the throttle up you can control it thanks to the drivability of the Ford EcoBoost engine to get a good exit. In FP3 we were right up there in the dry and I’m confident we can have a really strong weekend.
“Turn one and the chicane is where there’s a lot of time to be made. They will be a big differentiator between drivers. The last corner is interesting here as it’s a hairpin and I’m really not a fan of hairpins! It’s an important corner though because it provides the only real overtaking opportunity on the track.”
Quinn’s team-mate Ayrton Simmons was fifth fastest overall and is one to watch having featured at the sharp end of the times throughout the day; not least in free practice one when he was fastest after an excellent run on slick tyres early in the session before rain forced the field onto wets.
“The first session was really good for us to be fourth tenths quicker than everyone in tricky conditions,” said morning pacesetter Simmons. “The second session wasn’t too bad either to be third quickest on old tyres in the rain.
“I got a little confused in the dry final session with my references when it came to braking and turning points. I did get to grips with them by the end of the session, setting my best time on my final lap and that was when my tyres were past their best. The car has been really good so hopefully I can put it on pole.”
Logan Sargeant was another on front-running pace and was the only driver other than Quinn and Caroline to break the 50-second barrier, having not finished any lower than fifth in the preceding sessions.
Title contender Linus Lundqvist was quickest of the Double R Racing charges with the fourth best time both in the wet and the dry. Team-mate Karl Massaad fared better in the wet in session two ending up tenth, compared to the dry final session when he had to settle for 13th.
Title rival Oscar Piastri took time to acclimatise to the Fife track having never raced around the circuit before and grew in confidence as the day progressed. The Aussie ended up sixth overall and less than half a second off P1.
Johnathan Hoggard impressed in what is only his second British F4 meeting, just 0.026s behind Piastri in free practice three having been second quickest in free practice one and fifth in the second session. Fortec Motorsports’ newest addition proved to be their top performer with Oliver York ninth and Hampus Ericsson 12th.
Patrik Pasma found himself sandwiched on the timesheet by Hoggard and York in eighth. The Finn finished inside the top 10 in every session and is clearly enjoying his Knockhill experience more than his time at Snetterton a fortnight ago.
Olli Caldwell broke into the top 10 in the final session, more at ease in the dry conditions as opposed to the wet. The TRS Arden driver ended the day as quickest Ford F4 Challenge Cup runner with rival Harry Webb (Richardson Racing) just 0.032s behind him in 11th ahead of Ericsson and Lucca Allen (Falcon Motorsport) in 18th.
Official qualifying is set for 1130 tomorrow ahead of a 1430 start for Round 19 of the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost. The lights will go out for the second race of the weekend (the rescheduled Round 12) at 1710. There are two further races on Sunday, the second of which will be screened live on ITV4 at 1540.
F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost
Leading testing times Knockhill 11 August 2017 (sessions 1/2/3)
1 Alex QUINN / GBR / Arden 55.995s / 56.327s / 49.728s
2 Jamie CAROLINE / GBR / Carlin 54.841s / 56.018s / 49.796s
3 Logan SARGEANT / USA / Carlin 55.039s / 56.586s / 49.983s
4 Linus LUNDQVIST / SWE / Double R 55.132s / 56.519s / 50.036s
5 Ayrton SIMMONS / GBR / Arden 54.212s / 56.402s / 50.055s
6 Oscar PIASTRI / AUS / Arden 55.064s / 56.906s / 50.171s
7 Johnathan HOGGARD / GBR / Fortec 54.648s / 56.636s / 50.197s
8 Patrik PASMA / FIN / Carlin 55.574s / 56.790s / 50.284s
9 Oliver YORK / GBR / Fortec 55.380s / 56.691s / 50.332s
10 Olli CALDWELL / GBR / Arden 55.847s / 57.292s / 50.470s etc.