France’s Victor Bernier (16, R-ace GP) stormed to his first ADAC Formula 4 victory in a spectacular race at the Hockenheimring on Sunday. In an eventful closing stage brought to a premature end by race control, Bernier surged ahead of Jak Crawford (15, USA, Van Amersfoort Racing) and Elias Seppänen (16, Finland US Racing) to claim the top spot on the podium. Championship leader Jonny Edgar (16, England, Van Amersfoort Racing) finished outside the points after sustaining a puncture in a collision but still retains the overall lead. The next races on the calendar are scheduled for as early as the coming weekend in the context of the ADAC TOTAL 24-hour race at the Nürburgring.
„What a race,“ said Bernier with a beaming smile. „I am incredibly happy. We did a super job, in fact the whole team. It’s unbelievable, and our victory is also good for the championship.“ The race got off to a quiet start. Crawford, who went from pole position on the basis of his P8 finish in the second race on Saturday, rounded the first corner as the leader. By contrast, Francesco Pizzi (15, Italy, Van Amersfoort Racing) lost some positions and dropped from second to fifth. Crawford initially pulled away from the pursuing bunch and had established a lead of almost two seconds going into the second lap. Seppänen, who was in the runner-up spot at the time, was unable to keep up the pace and was coming under pressure from Gabriele Mini (15, Italy, Prema Powerteam) and Bernier. Both of them found their way past the Finn after a few laps and subsequently closed the gap to Crawford.
Some way back, Pizzi and Edgar collided in a battle for position. The Brit sustained a puncture and skidded off into the gravel bed in the Sachskurve. Although Edgar was able to continue after a pit stop, his chances of another top position were gone. For the Red Bull Junior, this was the first race of the campaign in which he failed to get on the scoreboard, and his lead in the overall standings over Seppänen has consequently been cut to twelve points. While Edgar ploughed a lonely furrow at the rear of the field after his forced pit stop, there was an exciting battle for victory at the front.
For a long time, Crawford was able to fend off the challenge from his much faster rivals, Mini and Bernier. The French driver meanwhile managed to overtake the Italian. Despite multiple attempts to attack Crawford, he had to grit his teeth for quite a while before he managed to make the decisive manoeuvre in the hairpin in the final phase. Shortly afterwards, Seppänen also overtook Mini and moved up to third place. It looked as if the result was certain, but then the race took a dramatic turn due to an over-ambitious move from Joshua Dürksen (16, Berlin, ADAC Berlin-Brandenburg e.V.), who was fifth at the time. Dürksen, who had won the first race on Saturday, missed the braking point going into the hairpin and collided with Crawford. Both cars were severely damaged and unable to continue. The safety car was sent out onto the track with only a few minutes left on the clock.
Shortly thereafter, race control took the decision to stop the race early, which meant that the last lap before the stoppage counted as the final result. This meant that Crawford kept his second place, just as Dürksen kept fifth. Mini, who had been third behind the safety car, was consequently dropped back to fourth, although he remained Best Rookie. Behind Dürksen was Pizzi in sixth, ahead of ADAC Sports Foundation protégé Tim Tramnitz (15, US Racing) from Hamburg. Oliver Bearman (15, England, US Racing), who celebrated his first ADAC Formula 4 victory on Saturday, came eighth. Sebastian Montoya (15, Colombia, Prema Powerteam) and Josef Knopp (16, Czech Republic, ADAC Berlin-Brandenburg e.V.) completed the Top Ten. Hamda Al Qubaisi (18, United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi Racing UAE) rounded off her first ADAC Formula 4 race weekend with a P14.
In the overall standings, Bernier’s victory boosted his points score to 91, putting him in fourth place behind Edgar, Seppänen and Crawford. After finishing Sunday’s race as runner-up, the Red Bull Junior is now 34 points behind his team-mate Edgar.
Further comments on Sunday’s ADAC Formula 4 race
Elias Seppänen (P3, US Racing): „The race was OK. I lost some time at the start; we hadn’t expected the track to be so cold. Towards the end, I was able to overtake Gabriele Mini and caught up with Jak Crawford, but then came the accident. I think it was a good race for the championship. My biggest rival had a problem. I think it will now be a close title fight, and I’m looking forward to next week.“
Gabriele Mini (P4 and Best Rookie, Prema Powerteam): „Fourth place is a bit frustrating. When I started out in clean air, I was very fast. But then my tyres began to degrade; Victor had one race fewer on his tyres. From then on, I was one second slower per lap. But hey, that’s motor racing.“