Sweet Caroline wins British F4 season opener

  • Caroline delivers on pre-season testing promise with lights to flag win for Carlin.
  • TRS Arden’s Alex Quinn and Oscar Piastri finish on podium.
  • Billy Monger claims top honours in battle for inaugural Ford F4 Challenge Cup.

1 APRIL, 2017 – Having recorded the fastest ever lap by a Ford EcoBoost-powered F4 car in qualifying on his way to pole, there was no doubting the pace of Carlin’s Jamie Caroline heading into the opening round of the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford. The Pirtek Racing and Duo Motorsport backed rising star duly delivered with a lights to flag victory at Brands Hatch.

Caroline kept his calm despite plenty of wheel spin off the line, holding his own into the first corner from Alex Quinn, Oscar Piastri and Linus Lundqvist.

With clear air ahead, Caroline wasted no time building a gap to the chasing pack, rattling off fastest lap after fastest lap. His efforts were made redundant due to a safety car period caused by team-mate Lucas Alecco Roy venturing off at Paddock Hill bend. Caroline was unperturbed, immediately building a seven car-length lead from Quinn at the restart.

Quinn didn’t let Caroline escape however, and as the race reached its climax the TRS Arden duo of Quinn and Piastri reeled Caroline into their clutches. It made for nail-biting finish, which saw Caroline refuse to crack under pressure on his way to the chequered flag, albeit by just 0.290s.

“I didn’t get as good a start as I thought I would which meant I had to push hard to build a gap,” explained Caroline. “Then the safety car came out and I had to try to do it all again. My restart was good, but I had wheel spin again so I know it could have been better. It’s such a short lap here so it can take four or five laps to generate the optimum temperatures in tyres.

“Hopefully it can be plain sailing to victory in race three and we’ll do everything we can to battle up the order in race two.

“The season couldn’t have got off to much of a better start. It should bode well for the rest of this weekend and beyond.”

Quinn recorded the fastest lap of the race as he challenged Caroline for the win, with Piastri just fractions of second behind. The Aussie recording a maiden podium in his first British F4 race.

Said Quinn: “It was so close. In the last few laps Oscar and I were really pressuring Jamie. We definitely looked after our tyres better than the others.

“I’m happy with second and I know after today that we can push for wins. I was confident before, but now even more so.

“Even things like starts which I struggled with this time last year, I had a great one today and made up a place.”

Added Piastri: “The three of us built a gap to the chasing pack and it’s brilliant to start the season with a podium. I don’t think the safety car affected my race too much.”

“I wasn’t quite close enough to Alex to make a pass, but he was so fast which is underlined by his fastest lap. With both of us on the podium it’s a fantastic start to the season for the team and we can build on this.”

There was no shortage of action throughout the field. Logan Sargeant climbed up to fourth to finish ahead of Carlin team-mate Patrik Pasma; both drivers beginning their campaigns with a strong point scoring start.

Billy Monger and Ayrton Simmons had a thrilling tussle for sixth, with Simmons darting all over the rear of Monger’s JHR Developments-prepared car. Both drivers are embarking on their second Ford EcoBoost-powered campaign this weekend and they brilliantly showcased the close wheel-to-wheel action the series has become renowned for.

Monger held on to sixth and became the first winner of a Ford F4 Challenge Cup class race. A new initiative for 2017 which will see drivers able to compete in a maximum of seven meetings on budgets of less than £100,000.

“The start was good and I managed to make up places,” commented Monger. “It’s really hard to make overtakes around this circuit and I felt I had the situation with Ayrton under control.

“I hope to bring home some more solid point scores tomorrow. I start from the front row in race two and want to try to get that first British F4 win I’ve been working so hard for. I know we have the pace in the car.

“I’m really pleased to be the first Ford F4 Challenge Cup winner. Without the Challenge Cup I probably wouldn’t be here now. It gives you a fantastic platform to keep racing and attract sponsors. It’s a no brainer for people who haven’t got the budget to do a full season, but want to get on the British F4 grid.”

Oliver York (Fortec Motorsports) finished second in the Challenge Cup class on his way to a top 10 finish, with Richardson Racing’s Harry Webb standing on the third step of the podium.

Between Simmons and York could be found JHR Developments driver Manuel Sulaiman, recording a top 10 finish on his British F4 debut.

Double R Racing’s Karl Massaad triumphed in a captivating battle for the final points paying position which also involved team-mate Daniel Cao, Webb and Yves Baltas. The four drivers swapping places in the final laps and thrilling spectators.

Jamie Sharp’s (Sharp Motorsport) fastest lap was just over half a second adrift of the fastest of the race on his way to 14th and like Sharp, Jacky Liu’s (GW Motorpsort) best lap came several laps from the end underlining the growing confidence of both drivers behind the wheel of their cars.

The fast starting Linus Lundqvist was forced to retire due to incident damage. Curtailing the Swedish single-seater champion’s efforts. The Double R racer will no doubt aim to bounce back tomorrow.

Attention now turns to tomorrow which plays host to the next two rounds of the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford. Ayrton Simmons will start from pole in the reverse grid race at 1040. Meanwhile the live-televised finale for the weekend will see today’s winner Jamie Caroline seek to record another victory from pole at 1620.

F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford

Provisional results Round 1 Brands Hatch Indy 1 April 2017
24 laps / 28.99 miles
1 Jamie CAROLINE / GBR / Carlin 20m 26.854s / 85.06mph
2 Alex QUINN / GBR / Arden +0.290s
3 Oscar PIASTRI / AUS / Arden +1.042s
4 Logan SARGEANT / USA / Carlin +3.981s
5 Patrik PASMA / FIN / Carlin +5.950s
6 Billy MONGER / GBR / JHR +6.441s
7 Ayrton SIMMONS / GBR / Arden +6.754s
8 Manuel SULAIMAN / MEX / JHR +8.237s
9 Oliver YORK / GBR / Fortec + 9.138s
10 Karl MASSAAD / LBN / Double R +11.296s etc.

Fastest lap: Quinn 46.325s / 93.87mph

Challenge Cup: 1 Monger; 2 York; 3 Webb

Grid for round 2: Simmons – Monger – Pasma – Sargeant – Piastri – Quinn – Caroline – Sulaiman –York – Massaad

Provisional championship standings
1 Caroline 25 points; 2 Quinn 18; 3 Piastri 15; 4 Sargeant 12; 5 Pasma 10; 6 Monger 8; 7 Simmons 6; 8 Sulaiman 4; 9 York 2; 10 Massaad 1 etc.

Full times