Red Bull Racing’s Pierre Gasly shines light on why F4 British Championship is key step on the road to F1

  • F4 British Championship takes centre stage alongside Formula 1 on the FIA stand at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed.
  • British F4’s youngest Rookie Class winner Arden’s Ayrton Simmons gets the chance to star alongside one of GP2’s most exciting prospects and Red Bull Racing reserve driver Pierre Gasly.
  • Gasly and Simmons provide fascinating insight into why F4 is the ideal starting point for any driver looking to work their way up to F1.

4 JULY, 2016 – The F4 British Championship’s stunning Ford EcoBoost-powered racer took centre stage on the FIA stand alongside Scuderia Toro Rosso’s 2015 F1 car at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, illustrating the different stages of the FIA single-seater pyramid.

The FIA’s steps to Formula 1 are being trodden by Red Bull Racing’s reserve driver Pierre Gasly. Pierre began his car racing career in F4 and joined the F4 British Championship’s youngest ever Rookie Class winner Ayrton Simmons to discuss why the series is an ideal starting point for any driver.

“It brings back lots of good memories seeing the Formula 4 car here. It wasn’t that long ago when I was racing in F4. I was 15 and really excited to step up to Formula cars from karting,” explained Gasly who claimed four victories and three podiums in the category.

“Starting in F4 for me was the best option because it’s the easiest way to learn the basics with single-seaters. When you are a rookie aged 15 or 16 and starting your single-seater career it’s a good place to begin. It’s a powerful car with 160bhp and at that age it’s really impressive.

Gasly then shone a light onto why F4 plays such an important role in a driver’s development: “The races are different to karting. The way you need to overtake. The way you need to manage your race. Everything is different and I think it’s the best way to start.”

“With these cars you can really feel the downforce and it’s good to understand the performance that it gives you because as you step up to higher series the downforce increases.

“All the feelings you get from the car when you start in F4 increase with the speed [as you go up the FIA single-seater pyramid]. In F1 cars you go faster and have more g-force and downforce; but the way you drive the car is similar to F4.”

Aside from both having raced in F4, Gasly and Simmons have driven for Garry and Christian Horner’s hugely successful Arden team; one of a number of leading motorsport outfits which compete in the F4 British Championship.

Said Gasly: “I gained a huge amount of experience working with Arden in 2014 [in senior single-seater racing]. With all their knowledge they gave me what I needed.

“It was the first time I worked with an English team and they are really dedicated to what they do. Motorsport in England is something huge. You can feel it in the team. I know as a driver I have grown a lot working with them.”

Simmons echoed Gasly’s sentiments: “It’s great to see that Pierre did F4 and I know he has worked with Arden. It shows how good Arden are at developing drivers and making them fast. They have got the best engineers and they set the car up brilliantly.”

Gasly also provided an insight into being part of the Red Bull Junior Team; a programme which multiple F4 British Championship race winner Luis Leeds is also a member of: “They expect you to be the best on and off track so you need to be at the top of your game. They try make you better as a driver with lots of mental and physical training.

“It’s the kind of chance you only get once in your life. It’s a great programme and we have seen in the past that if they think you deserve to be in F1 they give you the chance.”

Speaking of chances, a beaming Simmons reflected on his day at Goodwood: “Having the F1 car next to me and meeting Pierre is really exciting. It’s been great to get some insight into F1. As a top team reserve driver, Pierre gave me a good overview of what it takes to move up the ranks.”

“I want to focus on the F4 British Championship and climb up the FIA single-seater pyramid like he has. The series develops you into a quick driver with initiatives like the MSA Driver Coaching programme. You work with your engineers and the MSA coaches to improve your performance.

“Everyone around the world keeps an eye on the F4 British Championship because it has so many talented drivers. The cars are so close, particularly with the Ford EcoBoost engines. There have been so many race winners this season and that shows how competitive the series is.”

To which Gasly, exuding a level of confidence and maturity that far belies his age of just 20 (a mere five years older than Simmons), provided his wise words of wisdom to drivers looking to succeed in British F4: “When you start in F4 it seems quite far from F1, but it’s actually really close. In reality you don’t have much time and in this short time you have to put in the hard work to try to get the best out of everything. Every second on track you need to learn as much as you can and use every experience to be better as a driver.”

Red Bull Junior Luis Leeds heads the TRS Arden charge to British F4 victory

  • Red Bull Junior Luis Leeds soaks up pressure from Zane Goddard to take masterful win for TRS Arden.
  • Chaotic first lap as front row starters Caroline and DeFrancesco crash out.

CROFT 19 JUNE, 2016 – Luis Leeds was calm and composed out front to take a brilliant win for TRS Arden in the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford. His second of the season and a huge shot in the arm for the Red Bull Junior driver’s title hopes. He took the chequered flag from this weekend’s form man Zane Goddard. Max Fewtrell crossed the line third, putting in yet another assured performance for Carlin to retake the lead in the standings.

There were fireworks on the opening lap. In a rare occurrence this season, customary fast starter Jamie Caroline struggled off the line from pole, whilst Devlin DeFrancesco flew from second.

Caroline kept DeFrancesco on his outside into turn one, but the Canadian bravely hung on to emerge out of Clervaux in the lead. It all ended in tears though as Caroline dived down the inside of DeFrancesco at Sunny – the two drivers colliding.

There was more contact further down the order as Alex Quinn and Frank Bird came together. It brought an unfortunate end to both of their races.

The safety car was swiftly deployed following the opening lap incidents and it was Luis Leeds who found himself at the front of the pack.

After several laps behind the safety car the Ford EcoBoost stars were unleased and as the race progressed Leeds came under pressure for compatriot Goddard, who pumped in a series of fastest laps on the hunt for his second win. Leeds was having none of it though. He responded brilliantly as Goddard upped the ante, able to match his pace and control the remainder of the race.

Said a jubilant Leeds: “It was a really interesting race with what happened at the start. I had to avoid the contact and tried to maintain my gap to Zane. I tried to pull out a gap in the first two laps and knew from there I could control the pace and save the tyres a bit for the last race.

“I thought I had a really big gap to Zane, but I didn’t. Zane is really quick around this track and you cannot underestimate that. He’s a fast driver.

“Full credit to Arden though. We had a tough time at Oulton Park so to turn it around is really positive. I’m finally back up there in the championship standings and now the plan is to keep this up.”

Added Double R’s Goddard: “I’m happy to be on the podium again with second. I got a really good launch to get past Fewtrell. It was unfortunate what happened to Devlin and Jamie. Luis was quick, but I tried to close the gap. I think we did the best we could with the car. I’m looking forward to the final race of the weekend where I hope to get the win from pole.”

Max Fewtrell was another driver who was all smiles after the race despite losing out to Goddard at the start. His second podium of the weekend enabling him to regain the lead in the championship. Fewtrell once again exhibiting the kind of metronomic consistency that will no doubt pay dividends in the title race.

Commented Fewtrell: “With it being a reverse grid race I knew there would be some chaos and I just made sure I was able to capitalise on that. The pace was really good in the middle of the race and towards the end I just relaxed a bit to bring home third.

“I’ll be looking to keep increasing my lead in the championship from here on out to ease the pressure. To be in the lead now is really good.”

It was a strong race for TRS Arden who have shown strong pace throughout the weekend. Rafael Martins followed up team-mate Leeds’s victory with an excellent fourth place and at times was inches away from working his magic to find a way past Fewtrell.

Young Racing Driver Academy members Jack Martin and Ayrton Simmons capped off TRS Arden’s top performance, locking out the top two places on the Rookie class podium; whilst Nicolai Kjaergaard provided consolation for Fortec Motorsports with third in the Rookie class.

“It’s good to get another Rookie class win this weekend”, said Martin. “I made a mistake which let Fielding through and that cost me sixth, but it was still a good race and I got decent championship points in seventh so I’m pretty happy.

“This circuit is very technical and that’s where I seem to be stronger than a lot of other drivers. I can get consistent lap times around a circuit like this and that allows me to battle at the front.”

Said TRS Arden team manager Ben Bloomfield: “We’ll take that result. That’s more points in the bag and another win under Luis’ belt. He’s back in the fight so watch this space.

“Jack is still very inexperienced and you can sometimes see that when he races against more experienced drivers, but he’s learning all the time and he’s got pace. It won’t be long until he’s really making his own mark. I’m pleased with his performance and I’m pleased with Ayrton too.”

TRS Arden team principal Garry Horner echoed Bloomfield’s sentiments: “I’m delighted to see Luis get another win. We’ve got good pace and the guys in the team have done a great job.”

Key title contenders Sennan Fielding and Petru Florescu proved their mettle by battling back through the field from 14th and 15th on the grid. Fielding sneaking past Martin for sixth down the main straight with three laps remaining.

Meanwhile Florescu’s drive through the field proved that the Romanian was not going to let the championship lead slip from his grasp easily. He will no doubt look to hit back in the final race of the day at 1746.

F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford

Provisional results Round 14 Croft 19 June 2016
13 laps / 27.625 miles
1 Luis LEEDS / AUS / Arden 20m 28.615s / 80.94mph
2 Zane GODDARD / AUS / Double R +0.547s
3 Max FEWTRELL / GBR / Carlin +2.072s
4 Rafael MARTINS / BRA / Arden +2.955s
5 James PULL / GBR / Carlin +5.262s
6 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR +6.789s
7 Jack MARTIN / GBR / Arden 1:21.131 +7.266s
8 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin +9.128s
9 Ayrton SIMMONS / GBR / Arden +10.827s
10 Nicolai KJAERGAARD / DEN / Fortec + 13.402s etc.

Fastest lap Zane Goddard 1m 21.935s / 93.36mph

Rookie class 1 Martin, 2 Simmons, 3 Kjaergaard

Provisional championship standings
1 Fewtrell 169, 2 Florescu 162, 3 Leeds 151, 4 Pull 145, 5 Fielding 124, 6 DeFrancesco 121, 7 Caroline 105, 8 Martins 104, 9 Quinn 100, 10 Goddard 84 etc.

Full times

 

Red Bull Junior driver Leeds given wings as he flies to maiden British F4 victory

  • TRS Arden’s Luis Leeds takes historic first victory for himself and the Red Bull Junior driver programme in British F4.
  • Caroline, Monger and Schreiner also starred with phenomenal drives through the pack.
  • Aryton Simmons records first Rookie class win on debut race weekend.

THRUXTON 8 MAY, 2016 – Luis Leeds finally broke his victory duck in scintillating fashion in round eight of the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford. It was TRS Arden’s first victory of the season and the first for the esteemed Red Bull Junior driver programme in the series. In a dramatic race, Jamie Caroline came home second, followed closely by Billy Monger and Carrie Schreiner – all three drivers putting in inspired performances to battle through the field.

Leeds took no prisoners from third on the grid during the opening lap, pulling off a daring move around the outside of pole man Jack Butel, having quickly dispatched James Pull.

With a handful of second place finishes to his name already this season, Leeds was determined not to be the bridesmaid again and never looked like relinquishing the lead. He was able to build an advantage out in front at both times of asking following two safety car restarts as the drama unfolded behind him.

JHR’s Billy Monger astounded spectators, climbing from 18th to fifth in the opening laps and then benefitted from DeFrancesco and Butel’s collision to move up to third and claim his first British F4 podium. He chased home Jamie Caroline who himself scythed his way from tenth on the grid to second, avoiding the chaos and expertly defended from Monger and Carrie Schreiner in the closing stages.

As the three of them duked it out, it afforded Leeds more breathing room out front on his way to the chequered flag and a win that could prove pivotal to his championship challenge.

Said an emotional Leeds: “I knew it was going to be close at the start and I knew if I was able to brake later into the first corner I could go around the outside to take the lead and that’s what happened really. I then focused on putting in good laps to try to build a gap. It was a little frustrating as the safety car kept on wiping out my gap to the cars behind, but I was still able to control the race.

“I’ve been working so hard and full credit to Arden for setting up the car and turning things around after a difficult qualifying. I hope this is the first win of many. My goal is the championship this year and a win like this helps a lot.

“Dr Marko has given me this incredible opportunity to compete in this series and be part of the Red Bull Junior driver programme. I’m doing my best every day to repay his faith and try to win races. I’ve dedicated my whole year to this. I’ve left all my friends and family in Australia to pursue what I want I’ve wanted to do all my life. It’s Mother’s day in Australia so I think this is the best present for my Mum back home.”

Commented Jamun Racing’s Caroline: “I’ve always been at good at starts and on cold tyres. I learnt that in karting, so I’ve always had the upper hand on people in this aspect. I have so much confidence in myself and the car. I’m always pushing the limits and although there’s times when it might not come off that’s just me and I’ll keep trying. I managed to fend of Billy towards the end. It was a lot of fun with the two of us battling just like we used to in karting. I’ve had two second places this season so the win is definitely the aim now.”

Added Monger: “At the second restart Jamie made a slight mistake which allowed me to really challenge him. From then onwards it was all about the battle for second and third. This is a fantastic result though from 18th. It was a chaotic race. There was so much action. I made up a few places at the start and then stayed out of trouble as others made mistakes around me. I made a few really bold overtakes on the outside through Goodwood. I had to try to attack Jamie and defend from Carrie at the same time towards the end. It was difficult, but I’m ecstatic with the end result.”

The first appearance of the safety car occurred just four laps in to enable the recovery of Nicolai Kjaergaard’s beached car on the exit of Church corner. Prior to which Quinn out-braked himself trying to defend from Jamie Caroline, sending him into the back of James Pull. Both lived to fight another day, but they came together merely a lap later. An incident which saw Quinn receive a five place grid penalty for round nine.

With the safety car back in the pits at the end of lap six the drama resumed instantly. Whilst Leeds once again wasted no time in breaking away from the field, Carlin’s Devlin DeFrancesco collided with JHR’s Jack Butel in almost a carbon copy of the incident that saw Max Fewtrell roll spectacularly out of round seven.

By lap seven Florescu had made his way up to third place, but a technical problem saw him fall through the field. It forced him to relinquish his championship lead as he nursed his Carlin home.

On the penultimate lap Zane Goddard found a way past fellow Aussie Harry Hayek to claim fifth behind Double R team-mate Carrie Schreiner, by far the best result of the season for the Double R team. It was an exceptional performance from both drivers, with Zane climbing up from the last row of the grid and Schreiner from 13th.

Said Schreiner: “I was a bit lucky with other cars crashing out. It was a fun race and whenever I saw the chance to overtake someone I took it. In the last two laps third was a possibility, but I didn’t want to risk the fourth place finish. I’m really proud of this result.”

Having been overtaken by Goddard, Hayek was immediately in the firing line. Max Fewtrell was seeking redemption after yesterday’s DNF and fellow championship contender Sennan Fielding was also in maximum attack mode on the final lap. However, the trio came to grief at the Club chicane, Fielding miraculously maintaining momentum to finish sixth and Hayek in 12th.

It was a landmark race for Ayrton Simmons. In only his second competitive British F4 outing he finished inside the points and took a fantastic Rookie class win following team-mate Jack Martin’s exclusion from the results for an incident during the safety car period.

Provisional results Round 8, Thruxton 8 May, 2016
12 laps / 28.27 miles
1 Luis LEEDS / AUS / Arden 20m 06.547s / 84.35mph
2 Jamie CAROLINE / GBR / Jamun +2.683s
3 Billy MONGER / GBR / JHR +3.073s
4 Carrie SCHREINER / GER / Double R +3.325s
5 Zane GODDARD / AUS / Double R +4.722s
6 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR +9.784s
7 James PULL / GBR / Carlin +9.261s
8 Ayrton SIMMONS / GBR / Arden +9.920s
9 Ross MARTIN / GBR / Fortec +9.940s
10 Patrik MATTHIESEN / DEN / JTR +23.130s etc

Fastest lap Fielding 1m 15.304s / 112.63mph

Rookie class 1 Simmons ; 2 R Martin; 3 Quinn

Full results

Provisional championship standings
1 Leeds 103 points; 2 Florescu 101; 3 Fielding 99; 4 Fewtrell 89; 5 Pull 83; 6 Quinn 67; 7 Caroline 65; 8 Martins 45; 9 DeFrancesco 35; 10 Monger 29 etc

Rookie Class 1 Quinn 176;  2 R Martin 112; 2 J Martin 97; 4 Kjaergaard 72; 5 Simmons 33

Round 9 grid order
Florescu – Fewtrell – Fielding – DeFrancesco – Monger – Pull – Caroline – Leeds – Goddard – Matthiesen etc

Fewtrell pushes to the max for maiden Ford MSA Formula victory

  • Fewtrell caps off brilliant weekend with maiden single-seater victory.
  • Win sees Fewtrell snatch the championship lead from Carlin team-mate Petru Florescu.
  • Formula Kart Stars champion Ross Martin takes first Rookie Class win.

DONINGTON PARK 17 APRIL, 2016 – They say things go in threes and for the third time in succession Donington Park played host to a Ford EcoBoost-powered lights to flag victory. In round six the spoils went to Carlin’s Max Fewtrell ahead of TRS Arden’s Luis Leeds and Fortec rookie Ross Martin.

It was a straightforward race for Fewtrell who like the weekend’s earlier pole sitters made a perfect getaway when the lights went out.

The same could not be said of Alex Quinn who struggled off the line in his Fortec Motorsports racer and dropped to sixth. Fastest lap proved to be his consolation prize in a race where he had hoped to record another win for the Racing Steps Foundation.

As Quinn fell back, Luis Leeds (TRS Arden) and Ross Martin (Fortec) were the immediate beneficiaries, moving up to second and third respectively and they proved to be Fewtrell’s closest challengers. However, the 16-year-old kart star had enough in hand to maintain a sufficient gap throughout, preventing his pursuers from mounting an attack.

James Pull (Carlin) in fourth and Sennan Fielding (JHR Developments) in fifth completed a breakaway group which spanned from Fewtrell down to Quinn; with this collection of six drivers capable of consistently lapping in the low 1m 08s bracket.

An ecstatic Fewtrell commented: “I needed to get a good start and be consistent because I knew I had the pace to keep the gap. As soon as I got that gap it stayed the same. Breaking the tow was key.

“Three podiums is brilliant, especially with one of them coming in the reverse grid race and to finish the weekend off with a win is great. Fighting with a lot of second year drivers is obviously a challenge, but I’m learning every race and getting more confident with the car and its Ford EcoBoost technology”.

Added second place man Leeds: “It was an alright weekend. Second in every race session apart from race two this weekend. I hope to get my first win pretty soon, but consistency is key and I’ve said that all along because my goal is to win the championship. I cannot wait for Thruxton. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with myself for three weeks until then!”

It was a landmark race for Ross Martin whose third place netted him his first Rookie class win of the campaign, and demonstrated that the Formula Kart Stars (FKS) champion is taking full advantage of his fully funded prize drive in the UK’s official FIA F4 series.

“I didn’t have a great start to the weekend but what an end”, enthused Martin. “The car felt amazing throughout and I dealt with the pressure well at the start. FKS have been rooting for me to get on the top step of the podium so to get my first Rookie win this early on is fantastic and hopefully my mentor Allan McNish managed to watch the race on television.”

There was drama early on as the field was forced to complete an additional formation lap when Zane Goddard’s Double R racer ground to a halt on the way to the grid.

Carlin’s DeFrancesco added to the excitement when the racing got underway as he rejoined the track following an off at the exit of Craner Curves, only to force several cars to take evasive action when he reappeared on the asphalt at Old Hairpin.

Jamun’s Jamie Caroline scythed through the midfield once again to make his way from 14th to seventh. The highlight of his race a robust overtaking manoeuvre on TRS Arden’s Rafael Martins who would follow the Pirtek Racing sponsored driver home in eighth.

Another stellar pass came from JHR’s Billy Monger who perfectly judged his move on Dane Nicolai Kjaergaard into Redgate on lap four and would later squeeze by Jerseyman Jack Butel on the final lap to finish on the fringes of the points in 11th.

Redgate is also where Martins showcased his race craft; brilliantly turning defence (brought about by team-mate Jack Martin glued to his gearbox) into attack as he tore past Hayek who had leapt in front of the Brazilian earlier on in proceedings. Martin would subsequently follow in Martins’ wheel tracks to also get ahead of the Aussie F4 graduate who clung on to the last points paying position.

It was a frustrating race for Carlin’s Petru Florescu who had to settle for 13th having hoped to make more progress through the field from the back of the grid after fighting at the front in race two earlier in the day.

It’s a result that sees Florescu relinquish his championship lead after Fewtrell’s superb performance this weekend. Attention now turns to rounds seven, eight and nine of season at Thruxton on 7-8 May. All eyes will be on Fewtrell to see if he can maintain this phenomenal run of form and whether Leeds can finally join the roster of maiden Ford EcoBoost-powered winners having now collected a trio of second place finishes.

Provisional results Round 6, Donington Park 17 April, 2016
15 laps / 29.69 miles
1 Max FEWTRELL / GBR / Carlin 17m 18.620s / 102.78 mph
2 Luis LEEDS / AUS / Arden +1.063s
3 Ross MARTIN / GBR / Fortec +1.469s
4 James PULL / GBR / Carlin +2.618s
5 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR +2.931s
6 Alex QUINN / GBR / Fortec +3.481s
7 Jamie CAROLINE / GBR / Jamun +9.939s
8 Rafael MARTINS / BRA / Arden +10.798s
9 Jack MARTIN / GBR / Arden +12.594s
10 Harry HAYEK / AUS / Jamun +13.942 etc

Fastest lap Quinn 1:08.338 / 104.25 mph

Rookie Class 1 R Martin; 2 Quinn; 3 J Martin; 4 Kjaergaard

Full results

Provisional championship standings
1 Fewtrell 89; =2 Florescu 76; =2 Fielding 76; 4 Pull 69; 5 Leeds 68; 6 Quinn 55; 7 Caroline 46; 8 Martins 45; 9 Goddard 18 etc
Rookie Class 1 Quinn 136; 2 J Martin 97; 3 R Martin 76; 4 Kjaergaard 72 etc

Quinn for the win in Ford MSA Formula at Donington

  • Fortec Motorsports’ Alex Quinn converts pole to maiden victory.
  • Win sees Quinn take his championship challenge up a gear and pull further clear in Rookie Cup.
  • Petru Florescu performs brilliant comeback drive to hold onto championship lead.

DONINGTON PARK 16 APRIL, 2016 – Alex Quinn pulled off a fantastic lights to flag victory in wet conditions following a hail storm at Donington Park. The Rookie driver made a perfect getaway off the line, making amends for a series of difficult starts at Brands Hatch a fortnight ago, and kept TRS Arden’s Luis Leeds and Carlin’s Max Fewtrell at bay for the duration.

Said the Racing Steps Foundation backed winner: “It feels amazing to get my first win. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the weekend. It was quite tricky with the changeable weather, but I knew I could go quickly in the wet just like I did in the dry earlier in qualifying.

“I built a good gap to start with, but then I relaxed perhaps a little too much. I just didn’t want to make any mistakes and didn’t push too hard. This meant it got quite close at the end and I had to defend, but it was a really good race and I couldn’t be happier.”

The race was brought to a premature end with under four minutes remaining when a red flag was thrown because of Patrick Matthiesen’s stranded JTR at Coppice, denying spectators a thrilling three way fight for win. However, take nothing away from Quinn. This was a top drawer performance from a Rookie who has underlined his Ford British F4 title credentials.

Second place man Leeds commented: “It was hard to pass in the wet. The track was so slippery, but it was a fun race and I’m happy. Arden have done a great job to get a really good wet setup sorted.

“I was sizing up Quinn towards the end, but then the red flag came. That’s the way it goes sometimes and he deserved to win. It’s great to bring these points home and my aim is to maintain this consistency.”

Said Fewtrell of his third place: “It’s a really good result. The pace was so strong. I was able to match the guys in front, it’s just really hard to overtake in those sorts of conditions. If you’re on the wrong line it’s like driving on ice and when you are behind someone the spray makes it difficult to see.

“I’m happy to get another podium and this great haul of points. I’ll start on pole tomorrow in race three and I’m excited to see what I can do from there.”

Behind Fewtrell were team-mates James Pull and Devlin DeFrancesco, whilst Petru Florescu bounced back from last on the grid to sixth after a qualifying beleaguered by technical problems. His comeback drive enough to retain his championship lead by a single point over Pull.

Home favourite Sennan Fielding had a relatively quiet race in seventh, but will start on pole in race two tomorrow and look to add to his victory tally.

Finishing just behind the Chesterfield racer was Jamie Caroline who provided his customary instalment of on-track entertainment. An opening lap charge saw him climb from 15th to sixth, but he came undone at Redgate on the following lap as he took a trip through the gravel.

Fellow Ginetta Junior graduate Billy Monger was unable to follow-up his superb fourth in qualifying, but he’s sure to hit back later in the weekend, especially in drier conditions.

JHR’s Jack Butel came unstuck on lap three, having to retire due to a technical problem; whilst Zane Goddard was another non-finisher following a skirmish early on with TRS Arden’s Rafael Martins.

Round five of the season gets underway at 1005 tomorrow with home hero Sennan Fielding on pole, and Carlin’s quartet of drivers behind him on the grid hungry for more success. At 1510 the lights will go out on round six which will be shown live on ITV4, when Alex Quinn will aim to make another lightening start from the front row.

Ford British F4 – Certified by FIA, Powered by EcoBoost

Provisional results Round 4, Donington Park 16 April, 2016
11 laps / 27.77 miles
1 Alex QUINN / GBR / Fortec 15m 14.253s / 85.57 mph
2 Luis LEEDS / AUS / Arden +0.599s
3 Max FEWTRELL / GBR / Carlin +0.790s
4 James PULL / GBR / Carlin +3.040s
5 Devlin DEFRANCESCO / CDN / Carlin +13.997s
6 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin +17.239s
7 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR +17.849
8 Jamie CAROLINE / GBR / Jamun +21.106s
9 Billy MONGER / GBR / JHR +25.536s
10 Rafael MARTINS / BRA / Arden +26.320s etc
Fastest lap Pull 1:20.947 / 88.01 mph
Rookie Class 1 Quinn; 2 R Martin; 3 J Martin; 4 Kjaergaard

Full results

Provisional championship standings
1 Florescu 58; 2 Pull 57; 3 Leeds 50; 4 Fewtrell 49; 5 Quinn 45; 6 Fielding 41; 7 Caroline 30; 8 Martins 29; 9 Goddard 18; 10 DeFrancesco 17 etc
Rookie Class 1 Quinn 100; Kjaergaard 60; J Martin 57; R Martin 51

Pull leads the way in Ford MSA Formula pre-race test at Donington Park

  • James Pull heads incredibly evenly matched Ford EcoBoost-powered field.
  • Alex Quinn and Luis Leeds at the front of the chasing pack.

DONINGTON PARK 14 APRIL, 2016 – Carlin’s James Pull topped the times in Ford British F4’s pre-race test at Donington Park today, just as he did at the Brands Hatch opener a fortnight ago. He headed a super-close field where the top 15 drivers were covered by just a second.

Fresh from a hat-trick of podiums at the season opener, Pull was fifth fastest in the morning and let loose in the afternoon, posting the quickest time of 1:08.195 halfway through the session.

It was a time that left Pull over three tenths clear of the field, but Fortec Motorsports’ Alex Quinn and TRS Arden’s Luis Leeds hit back in the final minutes to see them finish second and third fastest respectively, with Quinn just over a tenth off of Pull.

Said Pull: “I really enjoy driving this circuit and it’s my favourite on the calendar. We hooked up a great lap. There’s still more in the bag, but it felt really good and I’m very happy.

“It’s all about getting in the groove at Donington. Finding a rhythm, staying smooth and not overdriving. The goal is to get the win this weekend. Qualifying will be tense. I just need to stay calm and focus.”

Quinn added: “I think we are quick enough to be fastest. In the second session I was really improving towards the end and the chequered flag came just too soon. I learnt loads at Brands and now it’s time to put it into action.”

Said TRS Arden team manager Ben Bloomfield of Leeds’ performance: “It was disappointing that Luis got held up in traffic at the end of his run, but from the sector times we know that we’ve got the pace in the car. He’s already feeling quite confident which is very impressive given that he’s never driven around this circuit before.”

An entertaining morning session saw the track move from wet to dry and it was Quinn who grabbed the attention by topping the times, but only just. JHR’s Sennan Fielding was less than three thousandths of a second away from the Racing Steps Foundation backed driver.

All drivers improved upon their morning’s best efforts thanks to far better track conditions, but Fielding was the exception to the rule due to technical problems.

TRS Arden’s Rafael Martins found himself third quickest in the morning and ended the day fifth fastest overall. “We were quick this morning”, said Martins. “I think a P2 or P3 grid slot is possible. We’ll obviously aim for pole, but James Pull was very fast today. We’ll look at the data to try to find something extra for qualifying and I’m sure our race pace will be even stronger.”

Harry Hayek was another who seemed to revel in the morning’s variable conditions ending up seventh and just dropping outside of the top ten by the time the chequered flag fell on the test, with his Jamun team-mate Jamie Caroline finishing several places ahead of him.

Said Hayek: “It’s been an up and down day. The first session was wet and then it was drying. We were right up there. In the second session we struggled a bit, but we’ll look at the data and aim to break into the top ten in qualifying.”

Championship leader Petru Florescu had a relatively quiet day in tenth, but after his emphatic performance just two weeks ago, it’s hard to believe that there’s not plenty more pace up the Romanian’s sleeve.

It was a premature end to the day for Patrik Matthiesen who brought out the red flags with 20 minutes remaining after beaching his car in the gravel at Coppice. Nevertheless, the Dane was quick early on suggesting he’s capable of bringing home his first points of the season.

With the field so evenly matched, everyone is eagerly awaiting qualifying at 1100 on Saturday and for the lights go out in the first of the weekend’s three races at 1500.

Leading testing times Donington Park 14 April, 2016 (am/pm)
1 James PULL / GBR / Carlin 1:09.297 / 1:08.195
2 Alex QUINN / GBR / Fortec 1:08.966 / 1:08.337
3 Luis LEEDS / AUS / Arden 1:09.205 / 1:08.407
4 Max FEWTRELL / GBR / Carlin 1:09.515 / 1:08.571
5 Rafael MARTINS / BRA / Arden 1:09.085 / 1:08.674
6 Devlin DEFRANCESCO / CDN / Carlin 1:09.813 / 1:08.773
7 Zane GODDARD / AUS / Double R 1:09.448 / 1:08.792
8 Jack MARTIN / GBR / Arden 1:10.537 / 1:08.827
9 Jamie CAROLINE / GBR / Jamun 1:09.982 / 1:08.891
10 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin 1:09.625 / 1:08.926 etc.

Full times

Torque Speed – Driver reaction from Brands Hatch Ford MSA Formula Test

  • Luis Leeds pays testament to the fantastic work of his Arden team.
  • Zane Goddard expects very close season.
  • Jamie Caroline pushing the limits to be in best shape for the start of the season.
4 March, 2016 – With the dust having settled on last week’s Ford British F4 test which saw the field covered by less than a second, we hear from some of the test’s key protagonists.

Red Bull Junior Team driver Luis Leeds left Brands Hatch with the fastest time and the bragging rights: “It was a really good test. We focused on consistency and trying to do the right thing in every session like using the correct tyre warming procedures and it paid dividends. Arden set the car up brilliantly and together as a team we performed really well.

“To be part of the Red Bull Junior Team driver programme and have the Red Bull logo all over my Ford British F4 car is amazing. It brings with it a little bit of pressure, but it’s a good kind of pressure. It helps you perform and motivates you to do your best.”

Zane Goddard spent much of the test at the top of the timesheets and ended up second fastest for Double R Racing: “The times are so close. It’s going to be an exciting year with very close racing. Hopefully we can stay towards the front.

“I got a lot out of the car and I think the team should be really proud of what they have done. They have worked really hard.”

Goddard’s Double R teammate Carrie Schreiner also lit up the timing screens on a number of occasions, the German clearly enjoying her time behind the wheel: “The test was a lot of fun and it went well. The Double R team is made up of such a good group of people. I’m able to learn so much in Ford British F4 and I really enjoy driving the Ford EcoBoost powered car.

Ginetta Junior champion Jamie Caroline’s lap times suggested that he’s a force to be reckoned with in 2016, setting the third fastest time overall. An achievement made all the more impressive given that his running was curtailed due to damaging his Jamun Racing prepared car on track: “I was trying to find more when there wasn’t any more to find and I just went over the limit. It’s not ideal, but you’ve got to find the limit one way or another. It’s all about learning at this stage.

“I’m loving the Ford British F4 car. When you really push the car it responds brilliantly.”

Meanwhile, Ayrton Simmons tallied an impressive 146 laps for Arden on his way to the seventh quickest time: “The car felt really good. I’m pleased with my times and mileage. I spend a lot of time in the gym and work a lot on my fitness so I feel well prepared. To have done this many laps in one day is no problem at all for me.”

The next collective Ford British F4 test will take place 16 March at Donington Park.