In a thrilling finale to the 2019 season at the Sachsenring, Theo Pourchaire made sure of the ADAC Formula 4 championship. The 16-year-old from France, who drives for US Racing CHRS, finished second in the last race of the campaign to claim the title. His nearest challenger, Dennis Hauger (16, Norway, Van Amersfoort Racing), booked a sixth win of the season after a strong performance but finished seven points behind in the title chase. US Racing CHRS also pulled off a championship hat-trick: in addition to the drivers' title for Pourchaire and the Best Rookie title for Roman Stanek (15, Czech Republic), the outfit owned and managed by Ralf Schumacher and Gerhard Ungar also wrapped up the team championship.
"It's an overwhelming feeling to win the title," said a jubilant Pourchaire. "And the same goes for the team. My thanks to the team for their great support throughout the season. Congratulations also to Dennis for a great year. It's a blow to lose out on the championship. But it all goes to show that the level has been really high this year."
Hauger was the beneficiary of a subsequent 30-second penalty incurred by Joshua Dürksen (15, Paraguay, ADAC Berlin-Brandenburg e.V.) for having left too big a gap to the safety car. After the race, the assumed runner-up Alessandro Ghiretti (17, France, US Racing CHRS) was disqualified because his vehicle was found to be below the minimum weight during the technical inspection.
Third-placed Oliver Rasmussen (18, Denmark, Prema Powerteam) was handed a 30-second time penalty following an incident involving Sebastian Estner (17, Germany, Van Amersfoort Racing). This put fourth-placed Pourchaire into second place and Arthur Leclerc (18, Monaco, US Racing CHRS) into third. However, the penalties had no influence on the outcome of the championship.
"That's not the way to win a race, of course," said Hauger. Ultimately, his title challenge foundered on a lack of consistency and technical problems at the beginning of the season. "It was an up-and-down season compared to Pourchaire," said a slightly disappointed Hauger. "You have to ask yourself in hindsight, why that was the case."
The Red Bull Junior nonetheless feels that, on balance, the season has gone well, especially in terms of personal development: "At the beginning I was taking too many risks: at times, I was as low as ninth in the overall standings. I started to learn very fast around the middle of the season. My pace was really good, and I was able to reduce the gap to the leader from more than 90 points to just the one. Yes, it could have turned out better, but what's happened has happened."
In the initial stage of the last race of the season, everything seemed to be going Hauger's way. From seventh on the grid, he got off to a great start and was already up to third after the first few corners. Pourchaire, who had started from eighth, was meanwhile dropping back to eleventh place. If the race had finished in that running order, it would have been enough for Hauger to lift the championship trophy. The situation looked even more promising when he overtook Ghiretti and moved up into second place. But at the same time, Pourchaire was battling his way through to the front.
In the virtual championship table, the lead changed hands several times, but Dürksen was beginning to pull out a massive lead on Hauger. As a result of the contact between Rasmussen and Estner, which led to a subsequent penalty, Pourchaire made further progress through the field. The subsequent safety car deployment put Hauger back in touch with Dürksen. At the restart, the Norwegian youngster went on all-out attack to get past, but his Paraguayan opponent was much faster. "My tyres were finished," said Hauger. "I tried to manage them, but towards the end, I was really having problems."
Best newcomer in Sunday's race was Stanek in sixth place. In the overall standings, Leclerc finished third ahead of Stanek and Ferrari Junior Gianluca Petecof (16, Brazil, Prema Powerteam).