Saturday brought a debut victory for Gabriele Mini, plus further masterful performances from Jonny Edgar and Elias Seppänen as they continue to rack up the points. The first two ADAC Formula 4 races at the Nürburgring have already generated headlines and given us some pointers as to how the remaining races will go. Italy's Gabriele Mini (16, Prema Powerteam) made a perfect debut in the ADAC High-Speed Academy, winning his very first outing in the series from pole position. From a championship perspective, however, the big winner on Saturday in the Eifel was Jonny Edgar (16, England, Van Amersfoort Racing). The Red Bull Junior stormed forward from eighth on the grid to finish second in Race 1 and then took a comfortable victory in Race 2, his third of the season. He is the main title contender, or so it would appear after the first five of this season's 21 races.
"I started the second race from pole position, and so was much better placed than in Race 1," said Edgar. "I was able to defend my lead at the start and then pull away after about five laps." Now on 99 points, he is already 22 up on main rival Seppänen (16, US Racing) in the overall standings. Finland's Seppänen won the third race at the Lausitzring season opener two weeks ago and took further valuable points in the second and third rounds at the Nürburgring.
Tim Tramnitz (15, Germany, US Racing) is currently the undisputed leader of the Best Rookie classification. The ADAC Sports Foundation protégé took seventh and fifth place in the overall classification on Saturday, giving him another 30 points in the junior stakes. His tally of 98 points gives him a clear lead over Russia's Kirill Smal (15, R-ace GP). "It was very enjoyable," said Tramnitz. "It'll be interesting to see how I do tomorrow, starting from fourth place on the grid." Race 3 will get underway on Sunday at 10:30 CEST when the Top Eight from Race 2 will start in reverse order. Edgar will be in eighth place, from where he will challenge for his fourth win of the season. The race will be shown live on free-to-air TV channel SPORT1. It can also be watched online as a live stream with a choice of German or English commentary at SPORT1.de, youtube.com/adac and adac.de/motorsport.
Saturday at the famous track stretching out under the shadow of Nürburg castle began with a significant debut: series newcomer Gabriele Mini claimed the victory as Prema Powerteam put in their first appearance of the season. In an impressive display of driving skills, Mini kept Edgar at bay for long stretches of the race. "I had Jonny in my rear-view mirror the whole time," said Mini with all the composure of an experienced professional. "He put a lot of pressure on me, but I knew that it wasn't such a good idea for him to drive so close to the car front, which is why I just focused on what I needed to do." In any case, Edgar did not want to risk his position in a final battle for victory. The Brit had started the race from a very disappointing eighth place, but after several mishaps for other drivers and some skilful moves of his own, he soon found himself in second place, which is where he remained at the finish line. "Second place is good for the championship," said Edgar afterwards. "The car felt really excellent."
There were several collisions at the start of the race, one of which led to Edgar's team-mate Jak Crawford (15, USA) dropping way down the field after puncturing. And then a little later, Joshua Dürksen (16, Germany, ADAC Berlin-Brandenburg e.V.) was unable to avoid the debris of Artem Lobanenko's (19, Russia, R-ace GP) rear wing lying on the track and had to pit to replace his damaged front wing.
The field retained greater discipline following the subsequent safety car period, and not much changed in terms of positions. On the final lap, though, Oliver Bearman (15, England, US Racing) lost the podium that he thought was in the bag after coming to a halt in the very last turn with a technical problem. Seppänen inherited third place. Victor Bernier (16, France, R-ace GP) took P4 ahead of Italy's Francesco Pizzi (15, Van Amersfoort Racing) and Russia's Vladislav Lomko (15, US Racing). Sebastian Montoya (15, Colombia, Prema Powerteam), son of ex-Formula 1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya, finished eighth behind Tramnitz. Dürksen and Crawford took the remaining points-scoring positions in Race 1.
The second race in the afternoon turned out to be a tour de force from Edgar. Starting from pole position, he instantly asserted his authority at the front, and as the race progressed, he steadily pulled out a big gap on the pursuing bunch of Seppänen, Mini and Crawford. While Edgar reigned supreme in a league of his own, the trio behind fought hard for the two remaining podium places. Seppänen and Mini finished second and third respectively, while Crawford had to settle for fourth place ahead of Tramnitz and Dürksen. After having had such bad luck in the first race, Bearman had the consolation of finishing seventh ahead of Montoya, Bernier and Josef Knopp (16, Czech Republic, ADAC Berlin-Brandenburg e.V.).
Further comments on the ADAC Formula 4 race
Elias Seppänen (P2 in Race 2, US Racing): "The race was pretty good from my perspective. I got off to a good start and then pulled out a small gap on the cars behind. In the early stages, I was keen to attack the leader, but that proved to be impossible. Overtaking is very difficult on this track. After that, I simply concentrated on looking after my tyres and finishing second. Tomorrow's race is going to be difficult starting from seventh on the grid, but I'm looking forward to it anyway."
Tim Tramnitz (leader in the Best Rookie classification, US Racing): "The start of the second race went really well for me, and I was immediately able to gain one place. In the early stages, I was able to keep up with the cars in front of me, but towards the middle of the race, I was somewhat lacking in pace. I still managed to hang on to fifth place through to the end of the race, although I did come under some pressure from Joshua Dürksen late on."