It’s full-throttle time again in the Alps. The 2017 ADAC Formula 4 continues at the Red Bull Ring in Austria this weekend (10th/11th June) with its biggest field of starters yet. The spectacular high-speed circuit in the mountainous province of Steiermark (Styria) will be hosting races seven to nine, one month before ADAC Formula 4 patron Sebastian Vettel himself competes there for Formula 1 world championship points in the Austrian Grand Prix. The race weekend promises to be a tense encounter – in the six Formula 4 races contested so far this season, there have been six different winners. SPORT1 and SPORT1+ will be showing the races on TV, and all three can also be watched as a live stream broadcast at www.SPORT1.de and www.adac-motorsport.de.
No fewer than 31 young drivers will be lining up at the Red Bull Ring, making this the largest field of contestants so far in the current season. New to the Lechner Racing squad is Russia’s Artem Petrov (17), who arrives from the Italian Formula 4 series. ADAC Formula 4 welcomes four guest starters: Kush Maini (16, India, Jenzer Motorsport), Job van Uitert (18, Netherlands, Jenzer Motorsport), Lorenzo Colombo (16, Italy, Bhaitech Racing) and Sebastian Fernandez Wahbeh (16, Venezuela, Bhaitech Racing). Van Uitert is a familiar face from the first two years of ADAC Formula 4 years, while Fernandez Wahbeh also made an appearance in 2016.
Juri Vips (16, Estonia, Prema Powerteam) currently leads the championship ahead of Felipe Drugovich (17, Brazil, Van Amersfoort Racing). Hot on their heels are the US racing trio of Julian Hanses (19, Germany), Kim-Luis Schramm (19, Germany) and Nicklas Nielsen (20, Denmark).
Vips from Estonia and Nielsen from Denmark have good memories of the Red Bull Ring. Vips ascended the podium there last year as runner-up and scored further vital championship points for a P4 and a P6. Nielsen also made a podium appearance and finished in the Top Ten in all three races. By contrast, Drugovich had a less successful time, scoring only four points for a P8 in the first race.
The ADAC Formula 4 series has been staged annually at Spielberg since it was established in 2015. For the Austrian drivers and teams in particular, this home race is the highlight on the calendar. This weekend will in any case see new names being entered in the ADAC Formula 4 record books, as none of the four previous winners from the six races staged at the Red Bull Ring will be present this time.
Neuhauser Racing, who are based in Austria, fancy their chances. “You’re always happy to be racing at the Red Bull Ring,” says their 32-year-old team principal Hannes Neuhauser, who has been giving plenty of advice regarding each of the twists and turns on the 4.32km circuit to his protégés Andreas Estner (16, Germany) and Michael Waldherr (20, Germany). “I’ve been driving here for many years now and have put in thousands of laps,” he says with a smile.
Estner and Waldherr are feeling upbeat after scoring points at the Lausitzring. “The field is so evenly matched this year that at least 15 drivers are capable of winning races,” adds Neuhauser. “I would include our youngsters among them if everything goes to plan and we have a good qualifying. But essentially, the objective is to score as many points as possible.”
Their Austrian rivals, Lechner Racing, are also excited by the prospect of this “very special home race”. Robert Lechner, Sporting Director at Team Lechner Racing: “We are returning to the Red Bull Ring with really good memories of last year and are looking forward to our home race. In 2016, Tommy Preining won here to give him and us a maiden victory in the ADAC Formula 4 series.” This year, however, Lechner’s interest is primarily in the Best Rookie classification. “It would be a dream come true if our drivers were up there on the podium again.” The team will no doubt be linking up with last year’s winner Preining at the Red Bull Ring, as the 18-year-old Austrian has since been signed as a Porsche Junior and is competing in the Porsche Carrera Cup, which is one of the support series this weekend.
Another member of the Lechner squad is Mick Wishofer (17) from Vienna, who is looking forward to racing in front of an Austrian home crowd. “I grew up nearby and have been to the track many times, but unfortunately, I’ve never driven there. For me personally, it is certainly the highlight of the season.” Wishofer has already made one podium appearance in the current campaign as Best Rookie in the second race at Oschersleben: “I have only been a spectator at the Red Bull Ring in the past – now I finally get the chance to drive there myself. It’s going to be very special for me.”
The third port of call for the 2017 ADAC Formula 4 is also the only one this year outside Germany. The two previous race weekends were staged at Oschersleben and the Lausitzring.
|SPORT1+||11.06.2017||18.45||Race 3||First Showing|