Once again, it was the Italian Prema driver who showed his class at a sunny Hockenheimring in the South of Germany. However, Antonelli wasn’t the only one who had a notable weekend: the likes of Taylor Barnard and Marcus Amand came out with some impressive performances, whilst Laursen and Wharton faltered. Here are our four takeaways from the second ADAC F4 weekend.
By Alexander Studenkov
Three Prema drivers are struggling
Whilst two people in the Prema line-up had a weekend to remember, the other three will feel rather let down by their results at Hockenheim. Charlie Wurz had perhaps the most ordinary weekend of the three drivers concerned, taking two finishes in the top six and ending the round fifth in the standings.
James Wharton did not have the same fortune. The FDA-member’s only points finish came courtesy of a sixth place in Race 2, although he was deprived of a top five spot on Saturday after being penalised for a jump start post-race. His third race turned out to be a nightmare when he ripped off his front wing in a battle with VAR’s Stenshorne and subsequently beached his car in the gravel trap on the entry of the stadium section.
Lastly, there was Conrad Laursen. Having struggled with his overall pace throughout the weekend, most notably taking 15th in Qualifying 2 as the only Prema to drop out of the top ten in qualifying, Laursen scored just 12 points from this round with a best finish of seventh. The crescendo on this cake of sub-par results came in Race 3, in which the Danish F4 Champion of 2020 dropped down from pole, which he started from due to the reversed-grid format of the series, to ninth by the chequered flag, even behind one-off entrant Oleksandr Partyshev who had come back from a puncture in that race.
Whilst rookie Rafael Câmara continued his streak of podiums and rookie wins, which puts him in a very comfortable second place in the standings, the aforementioned trio has to shake off their form from this weekend, most crucially Wharton, given that he won’t want to be seen as the less talented Ferrari-backed driver within the team.
Barnard asserts control at PHM
Following two disrupted seasons in F4, Taylor Barnard looked to 2022 as a new chance to prove himself. After ticking off the task of winning in single-seaters in the UAE earlier this year Barnard signed up with PHM Racing to enter his first full Formula 4 campaign.
This weekend proved why the Brit received that chance. From the word go Barnard was rapid, setting the fastest time in first practice and starting ahead of all drivers – with the exception of Antonelli and Câmara. The races went through in similar fashion, with Barnard taking his first ever podium in the series on Saturday after a last-lap battle with Prema’s Wurz.
On Sunday two more results in the top four, which included another podium, followed, leading the man from Norwich to third in the championship. In contrast, a particular fondness for collisions disrupted his teammate’s weekend, as Nikita Bedrin only took away 15 points in comparison to Barnard’s 42. The Brit has now proven that he can get strong results with the new team, and could use Hockenheim to establish himself as the team leader going forward.
Mister consistent: Martinius Stenshorne
A positive surprise of not just this weekend, but the start of the Italian F4 season a weekend prior, Norwegian rookie Martinius Stenshorne took yet more plaudits for his impressive performances with Van Amersfoort Racing. Having missed the first round of ADAC F4 due to the late delivery of parts, the Dutch team were on the back foot going into Hockenheim, and with none of their drivers having raced in the series before prospects to fight for places high up the order looked unlikely.
Stenshorne however managed to prove his class, continuing his streak of fifth-place finishes from his debut weekend in Imola into Hockenheim, finishing races 1 and 2 in that spot. Race 3 proved even more stunning, as the Norwegian, who only made his F4 debut in the UAE at the start of 2022, recovered from a puncture after contact with James Wharton to finish seventh. He will not score any points due to Van Amersfoort attending the round as a guest entrant, but Stenshorne has definitely shown that he is a driver to keep an eye out for.
Antonelli can embarrass the competition
Finally, we come to the main conclusion to be drawn from this round, which is of course the dominance of championship leader Andrea Kimi Antonelli, meaning that we will keep this terse: The Mercedes junior experienced a perfect weekend, and that term has to be taken in a literal sense. Not only did Antonelli win every race of the weekend, a feat previously achieved only by Dennis Hauger (at the same track!) in 2019, but he also scored both pole positions and set the fastest lap in all races.
Not even a fourth-row start in Race 3 could stop the Italian, who carved his way through the pack to the extent that he was four seconds ahead of runner-up Marcus Amand by the end. This is not a shocking thing to write, but Antonelli looks like the star of this grid – and the championship favourite too.
Header photo credit: Prema Powerteam
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