It is a new year and that means winter Feeder Series. F4 UAE will kick off the opening weekend of racing in 2022 alongside the Formula Regional Asian Championship.
By Charlie Parker
Let’s go through the 29 drivers that will participate in round one of F4 UAE at Yas Marina Circuit.
Andrea Kimi Antonelli – #99
Mercedes junior driver Andrea Kimi Antonelli made his car racing debut in 2021 after turning 15 and participating in the last three rounds of Italian F4. He left a massive impression on the series after claiming three podiums and finishing tenth in the standings.
Antonelli, born in Bologna, Italy, started competing in karting races at the age of nine and was soon achieving wins and titles at a regular pace, way too many to list them all off here. In 2020, Kimi won the FIA European Champion Championship in the OK category.
Charlie Wurz – #7
Son of two time Le Mans 24-hour winner Alex, Charlie Wurz would like to stamp his claim on more wins after claiming the F4 UAE Trophy round victory. Wurz made his car racing debut in 2021, competing in six races in the Italian F4 championship.
The Austrian found success in GT racing in 2021, winning two races in the GT4 Porsche Sprint Challenge at Jeddah.
Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema
Aiden Neate – #57
One of the more experienced drivers on the grid, Aiden Neate competed in British F4 in 2021. Despite missing the first two rounds, the British driver finished ninth in the standings, with three podiums and two fastest laps. Neate also competed in four races of the 2021 French F4 championship
James Wharton – #13
The first ever winner of the Ferrari Driver Academy Scouting World Final, Australian James Wharton will make his single seater debut at Abu Dhabi.
Wharton began racing in Australia in 2016 and at the end of the following year, he moved to Europe and finished third in the Mini Max class of the Rotax Max Grand Finals. In 2019, in OK Junior, he finished second in the Winter Cup in Europe, fifth in the WSK Champions Cup and ninth in the WSK Euro Series and in the European CIK-FIA championship.
Suleiman Zanfari – #25
Moroccan hopeful Suleiman Zanfari made is car racing debut in the 2019 Ginetta Junior Championship, competing in six races. Zanfari also raced in the 2020 and 2021 Spanish F4 Series as well as three races in Italian F4 in 2021.
Zanfari’s karting career is highlighted by winning the 2019 Swedish Championship in the OK Junior category.
Miron Pingasov – #55
Russian driver Miron Pingasov continues with MP motorsport into 2022 after competing in nine races with the team in the 2021 Spanish F4 championship. Pingasov competed in the F4 UAE trophy round but a collision left him with a damaged car and a back of the grid finish.
In 2020, he finished sixth in the WSK Champions Cup and took tenth in the WSK Super Masters Series.
Tasanapol Inthraphuvasak – #14
Tern, as MP called him, had a busy 2021, competing in last year’s F4 UAE championship, finishing fifth and claiming four podiums. He also claimed two podiums in just three races in French F4.
The Thai driver also competed in British F4, claiming three podiums and a race win for Carlin.
Rik Koen – #9
A last-minute addition to this weekend’s lineup, with Koen flying out a day before the start of the opening weekend. The Dutch driver will drive under the Stirlings Racing team while being supported, and classified, by MP.
Koen raced in the 2021 Spanish F4 championship, claiming three podiums and one pole position on his way to sixth place in the championship. The 17-year-old also spent two seasons in the one-make Ford Fiesta Cup.
Lucas Alanen – #3
Finnish karting driver Lucas Alanen makes his step up to single seaters with Xcel Motorsport, but won’t race just yet. Alanen started in karts in 2018 in the WSK Final Cup – 60 Mini. And spent 2019 in various WSK Super Master Series events, finishing as high as 12th at La Conca in Finale B of the OK- Junior category.
Nandhavud Bhirombhakdi – #6
Thai driver Bhirombhakdi will make his single seater debut in F4 UAE. The Thai driver Is a multiple National Champion in Thailand, including winning the Rok Cup Thailand 2020 title. Bhirombhakdi spent 2021 testing single seaters, including the F4 UAE test at Dubai Autodrome in December.
Ismail Akhmedkhodjaev – #11
Akhmedkhodjaev, from Uzbekistan, has raced in the FIA European Karting Championship in the OK category and will make his single seater debut in F4 UAE.
Jamie Day – #24
Emirati driver Jamie Day is back for his second go at the F4 UAE championship. He competed in the 2021 edition, claiming three podiums and a race win.
Day has had a very successful karting career, winning the Kartmasters British Grand Prix in the Rotax Mini Max category as well as finishing third in the WSK Super Master Series in the OKJ category. Day was also a factory kart driver for Charles Leclerc’s karting brand under Lennox Racing Team. His father, Kevin, owns Xcel Motorsport.
Ivan Domingues – #89
Announced the day before the start of the season and pictured in Jamie Day’s race suit, Portuguese driver Ivan Domingues will look to put his own stamp on F4 UAE, which is his single seaters debut.
Domingues found success in karting in the Portuguese scene, finishing second in the junior category of the Portuguese Karting Championship in 2019.
Mumbai Falcons (Xcel Motorsport)
Sohil Shah – #28
Indian driver Sohil Shah returns to single seater racing after competing in the F4 SEA Championship, claiming one podium in the four races he participated in. Shah will be in the Mumbai Falcons car before handing it over to Yash Aradya in a later round.
3Y by R-ace GP
Martinius Stenshorne – #45
Norwegian driver Martinius Stenshorne makes his single seater debut. Stenshorne, who is signed by Nicholas Todt’s management, has found immense success in karting, including finishing second in the WSK Champions Cup – OK Junior in 2020 and winning the WSK Masters Series and Italian Championship in the 60 Mini category in 2018.
Victoria Blokhina – #46
15-year-old Russian driver Victoria Blokhina will make her single seater debut in the series. Blokhina has raced in karts for the past three years, mostly in the WSK series. Switching from the OK-Junior to the OK category in late 2020, she appeared in the WSK Super Master Series and and Euro Series, as well as the Karting European Championship
Nikhil Bohra – #47
Singaporean Nikhil Bohra spent 2021 in both karting and single seaters, competing in the final weekend in the ADAC F4 championship, making his single seaters debut and now he continues with R-ace into 2022. Bohra came 21st in the 2021 German Kart Championship and raced in the WSK Euro Series in the OK category.
Alex Dunne – #4
Following a couple of season as Ireland’s top International Kart racer, Alex Dunne made his car racing debut in 2021 in the Spanish F4 Championship under Pinnacle Motorsport and now will face his former team in F4 UAE with Hitech.
Dunne claimed one podium in Spanish F4 and also two podiums in ADAC F4 in 2021 and his karting highlights include winning the WSK Champions Cup – OK Junior.
Oliver Gray – #5
British driver Oliver Gray comes off a successful 2021 where he claimed two wins in British F4 under Fortec Motorsport. Gray also competed in six races in Italian F4 with BVM Racing.
Gray had a successful 2019 in karting, winning the Motorsport UK Kartmasters Grand Prix – X30 Junior and the British Kart Championship – X30 Junior.
Ricardo Escotto – #27
Mexican Ricardo Escotto will make his debut in single seaters in the series. Escotto spent the back half of 2021 testing F4 cars and spent 2020 in various karting series across the USA.
Anshul Gandhi – #33
Indian driver Anshul Gandhi raced last year in Spanish F4 for GRS, but he only competed in three races, so this is really a debut for Gandhi. He found success in karting in 2020 when he won the IAME Series UAE – X30 Junior.
Nikita Bedrin – #15
One of the more successful drivers on the grid, Russian Nikita Bedrin looks to guide new team, PHM Racing, to success.
Bedrin competed in last years F4 UAE Championship for Xcel, gaining one podium. But Bedrin found more success in Italian F4 and ADAC F4, winning the rookie championships The Russian also has an immense karting resume, so he should be fighting for wins this season.
Jonas Ried – #41
German Jonas Ried is also back for his second go at the F4 UAE championship, last time out he claimed three podiums and a race win for BWT Mücke Motorsport. Ried also competed in the 2021 Italian F4 championship under Mücke, gaining valuable experience to push along his career this year.
Taylor Barnard – #77
Representing Nico Rosberg’s academy, British driver Taylor Barnard looks to kick his single seater career into next gear in 2022. Barnard has an impressive karting resume, including winning the 2020 WSK Champions Cup – OK for Rosberg Racing Academy.
Also in 2020, Barnard competed in eight races in the Italian F4 Championship for AKM Motorsport and competed in the 2021 ADAC F4 championship for BWR Motorsport
Brando Badoer – #19
Son of former F1 driver Luca, Brando Badoer looks to make his own mark as he will make his single seater debut in the series. Badoer has found success in karting, with highlights such as coming second in the WSK Euro Series – OKJ. The Italian also completed some tests in F4 in 2021.
Eron Rexhepi – #91
Swiss driver Eron Rexhapi competed in Italian F4 last year for BVM Racing, racing 13 times. Rexhepi has found success in the Swiss karting scene, highlighted by finishing second in the Schweizer Kart Meisterschaft – X30 Junior.
Jules Castro – #96
Belgian karting graduate Jules Castro will race in the first two rounds of the series has made a quick jump to single seaters after competing in various karting championships in 2019. Castro tested cars throughout 2021, including some tests with VAR. Jef Michiels will take over the car after round two.
Michael Shin – #42
South Korean driver Michael Shin will race JHR’s only car in the competition. Shin did a year of karting in Korea before moving abroad where JHR snapped him up and brought him to Britain. Shin researched and contacted the team himself where he ended up participating in Callan O’Keeffe’s School of Send.
Vladislav Ryabov – #26
The 29th and final driver in F4 UAE is Russian Vladislav Ryabov. Ryabov competed in the 2021 Spanish F4 Championship where he impressed with three podiums and one fastest lap in the 21 races he feature in and looks to lead GRS in his lone car.
Header photo credit: F4 UAE