Two races, two wins - Lirim Zendeli (18, Germany, USA Racing CHRS) made a perfect start to the new ADAC Formula 4 season. He dominated both qualifying sessions and was again the fastest driver in Saturday's two opening races at Oschersleben as he made his championship ambitions clear in impressive fashion, notching up wins four and five in the ADAC Formula 4 series.
Zendeli was unbeatable in the Motorsport Arena, both in the morning on a wet track and in the bright afternoon sunshine. The Kerpen-based outfit, US Racing CHRS, celebrated a one-two win in the first race thanks to Mick Wishofer (18, Austria, US Racing CHRS) in P2. P3 went to Liam Lawson (16, New Zealand, Van Amersfoort Racing). David Schumacher (16, Germany, USA Racing CHRS), son of ex-Formula 1 driver Ralf Schumacher, was Best Rookie in fifth place.
"That was definitely a great way to start, and I'm super happy, because it was a tough race," said Zendeli at the end of a contest that was interrupted several times by the safety car. "The track was wet in places, so I couldn't go all-out." However, his win was never in jeopardy. The 18-year-old from Bochum thinks it's a "good omen" that the winners of the first race in recent years have always gone on to become champions. "I hope it turns out to be the case again this year."
Enzo Fittipaldi (16, Brazil, Prema Theodore Racing), grandson of two-time Formula 1 world champion Emerson, finished ahead of Schumacher. Frederik Vesti (16, Denmark, Van Amersfoort Racing) was sixth and guest entrant Konsta Lappalainen (16, Finland, KIC Driving Academy) seventh. They were followed home by rookies Gianluca Petecof (15, Brazil, Prema Theodore Racing) and Niklas Krütten (15, Germany, ADAC Berlin Brandenburg e.V.) and by Oliver Caldwell (15, Great Britain, Prema Theodore Racing).
In the afternoon, Zendeli once again dictated the race and enjoyed a start-finish victory. Only Vesti was able to keep up with Zendeli's blistering pace, temporarily putting him under pressure, but Zendeli assuredly fended off the attack by the Dane. Coming home behind them, Fittipaldi achieved his second podium finish in the ADAC Formula 4 after taking fourth place this morning. Petecof finished seventh as Best Rookie with his second Top Ten finish in two races.
Zendeli still thought there was room for improvement, despite having made a good start. "I made a few mistakes here and there, which annoys me a bit," he told us. "That's how I made problems for myself. Still, we've got 50 points in the bag. We can build on that."
Charles Weerts (17, Belgium, Van Amersfoort Racing), who retired on the first lap in the first race, did better in the afternoon by finishing fourth. Behind him came Andreas Estner (17, Germany, Neuhauser Racing), Petecof and Leonardo Lorandi (17, Italy, KDC Racing). Caldwell in P8, Krütten P9 and Leon Köhler (18, Germany, ADAC Berlin-Brandenburg e.V.) in P10 also finished in the points.
Caldwell's eighth place on Saturday afternoon gives him pole position on Sunday. By contrast, Zendeli as race winner is obliged to start from P8. TV channel SPORT1 is showing the races from the opening weekend of the fourth season of the ADAC High-Speed Academy. 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
Frederik Vesti (Van Amersfoort Racing): "The first race was just not my race. In the afternoon, things went a lot better. All in all, I'm very happy with the first day. But of course, there is still room for improvement. After my strong test results, I came here brimming with confidence, and I ultimately aim to win the title."
Enzo Fittipaldi (Prema Theodore Racing): "We can and always want to improve. The first day was very good; we got good results. Now we have to keep working hard. The season is going to be very long and fiercely contested. I have to work on the starts, but I'm very happy with the pace in the races in general."
Gianluca Petefoc (Prema Theodore Racing): "It has been a good weekend so far. It's my first weekend in a single-seater car, and I'm really happy about that. I didn't expect to get such good results so soon. There are a lot of good drivers in the field - some of them more experienced than me. My team helps me a lot, and I'm confident that we'll carry on in the same way."