It's match point for Lirim Zendeli (18, Germany, US Racing CHRS) after he and Frederik Vesti (16, Denmark, Van Amersfoort Racing) each won one of the two ADAC Formula 4 races at the Nürburgring on Saturday. US Racing CHRS driver Zendeli extended his lead in the drivers' championship to 81 points, taking a first 'match point' into the third race on Sunday. Vesti, meanwhile, secured his second win of the season in the ADAC High-Speed Academy in Race 2.
"I was consistently fast," said Vesti. "Zendeli then left a gap, and I thought 'Time to attack!'. I'm very pleased. I've made great progress since the start of the season and feel much stronger in the car. My target now is to finish as runner-up. I feel pretty confident that I can pull it off."
In the second race on Saturday afternoon, Zendeli once again got off to great start and asserted the lead. After a brief safety car deployment right at the start of the race, Zendeli executed a perfect restart, but Vesti to his rear continually put him under pressure. This paid off as Zendeli left too much space on one of the corners. Vesti saw his chance and overtook.
The championship leader did not sound too perturbed afterwards: "Vesti was faster; it was a tough decision not to defend, but it was the right one. He did everything absolutely right. I feel totally relaxed about tomorrow's race. If things don't work out tomorrow, I'm still plenty of points ahead."
Enzo Fittipaldi (17, Brazil, Prema Theodore Racing) lost his third place at the start to Mick Wishofer (18, Austria, US Racing CHRS), but the Austrian youngster subsequently had to retire after colliding with Liam Lawson (16, New Zealand, Van Amersfoort Racing).
David Schumacher (16, Germany, US Racing CHRS) was again Best Rookie, as he had been in the morning, finishing ahead of Charles Weerts (17, Belgium, Van Amersfoort Racing) and the two newcomers, Gianluca Petecof (15, Brazil, Prema Theodore Racing) and Niklas Krütten (15, Germany, ADAC Berlin-Brandenburg e.V.). Leon Köhler (18, Germany, ADAC Berlin-Brandenburg e.V.) finished eighth while Oliver Caldwell (16, Great Britain, Prema Theodore Racing) and rookie Joey Alders (18, Netherlands, Van Amersfoort Racing) slotted into place behind him.
First race: Lights-to-flag victory for Zendeli
On Saturday morning, Zendeli claimed a start-to-finish victory in brilliant sunshine. The 18 year-old crossed the finish line ahead of Fittipaldi and Vesti.
"Enzo simply didn't make a mistake," said Zendeli of his opponent. "It would obviously have been good to have nailed this one down."
Best Rookie in the first race was David Schumacher, son of ex-Formula 1 driver Ralf, who narrowly missed out on a podium in the general classification with a P4 finish: "At the start, I immediately moved up from seventh to third. It was a great performance, although there was also an element of luck. But Vesti was quicker than me and I eventually had to let him go past."
Behind Schumacher, Petecof finished fifth, while Lawson - running second in the championship at that point - crossed the line in sixth. Weerts came seventh, ahead of Wishofer and rookie Krütten. Completing the Top Ten was Köhler.
The sixth weekend of the 2018 ADAC Formula 4 ends with Race 3 (09:20 CEST) on Sunday. Thanks to his eighth place in the second race, Köhler qualifies for pole position, while Zendeli is obliged to start from eighth place. SPORT1 is showing races from the fourth season of the ADAC High-Speed Academy on TV. All races can be watched online via the free livestream on sport1.de, adac.de/motorsport and youtube.com/adac.
Further comments on the ADAC Formula 4 races
Enzo Fittipaldi (Prema Theodore Racing): "My target now is to finish the season as championship runner-up. Zendeli has a massive lead, so I think that he is going to take the title. But second place is a good objective for us."
Frederik Vesti (Van Amersfoort Racing, after the first race): "My start was great, and after the first lap, I was up to fourth. Not long after that, I got past David. Unfortunately, the gap to the front was just a bit too big. I gave it everything I'd got and even clocked the fastest race lap. Unfortunately, I was unable to close in on Lirim and Enzo up front, but even so, it was a great race for me."