Home Formula 4Italian F4 Antonelli continues to set pace in Italian F4 practice at wet Imola

Antonelli continues to set pace in Italian F4 practice at wet Imola

by Roger Gascoigne

Photo: ACI Sport

Mercedes-AMG junior Andrea Kimi Antonelli set the pace in both free practice sessions ahead of the opening round of the Italian Formula 4 Championship as the wet conditions and poor visibility caused multiple stoppages.

Antonelli and his Prema team-mates Rafael Camara and James Wharton were a class apart in the difficult conditions, remaining out front following the morning’s opening test session.

Action for the day was brought to a close early as conditions were deemed too dangerous to continue following a red flag shown with 15 minutes of the second session remaining. The fastest times of the day were all set on a drying track at the end of the first free practice session.

Though the morning’s heavy rain had stopped, the track remained wet for the start of FP1. The 40-minute session was interrupted four times by full course yellows, making it impossible for drivers to get into any rhythm on the demanding Imola circuit.

Ferrai junior Camara had seemed set to end the session on top with a lap time of 2m01.215s set at the halfway mark, and 0.576s ahead of Antonelli as the track was neutralised for the final time.

The green flag was shown with just 2m40s on the clock, allowing time for just one flying lap. Antonelli managed to find a gap in the traffic to put in a stunning lap of 2m00.408s on his final lap, including setting the fastest sector times in sectors two, three and four. With Camara unable to get in a clear lap, Antonelli finished the session on top by 0.807s.

Wharton completed a Prema 1-2-3 as he improved on his previous best by over 1s on his final tour.

Marcus Amand had been fourth before the final FCY, but was also unable to improve, dropping back to sixth behind the PHM Racing duo of Nikita Bedrin and Taylor Barnard.

By the time the second session got underway, 20 minutes behind schedule due to red flags in the preceding F2000 Italian Trophy qualifying, the rain was falling heavily again and visibility in the early evening gloom was minimal.

Before anybody could complete a single lap, the first full course yellow was deployed to recover Frederik Lund from the Tamburello gravel. Once running got underway again, Antonelli, Camara and Wharton quickly established themselves at the top of the order.

Camara managed to move to the top with a time of 2m10.774s, 0.193s ahead of Antonelli, just before a second FCY was required for an off from Jules Castro.

The Prema trio were in a class apart from the rest as Antonelli went fastest with a 2m08.997s on his sixth lap, 0.415s ahead of Wharton who had jumped to second, before a third FCY was called with 19 minutes remaining as Viktoria Blokhina went into the gravel on the exit of Tamburello.

Before anybody could even get up to speed the first red flag of the day was required following an incident at Rivazza involving Brando Badoer and Ivan Domingues, with the stewards deciding that the session would not be restarted on safety grounds.

Combined free practice results
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 Andrea Kimi Antonelli Prema Racing 2m00.408s 20
2 Rafael Camara Prema Racing 2m01.215s +0.807s 19
3 James Wharton Prema Racing 2m01.225s +0.817s 21
4 Nikita Bedrin PHM Racing 2m01.824s +1.416s 21
5 Taylor Barnard PHM Racing 2m02.175s +1.767s 20
6 Marcus Amand US Racing 2m02.741s +2.333s 21
7 Charlie Wurz Prema Racing 2m02.857s +2.449s 22
8 Alex Dunne US Racing 2m02.910s +2.502s 20
9 Martinus Stenshorne Van Amersfoort Racing 2m03.096s +2.688s 20
10 Conrad Laursen Prema Racing 2m03.386s +2.978s 21
11 Ricardo Escotto Cram Motorsport 2m03.654s +3.246s 22
12 Nikhil Bohra US Racing 2m03.692s +3.284s 20
13 Ivan Domingues Iron Lynx 2m03.784s +3.376s 21
14 Alfio Spina BWR Motorsport 2m03.785s +3.377s 21
15 Arias Deukmedjan Van Amersfoort Racing 2m03.947s +3.539s 19
16 Kacper Sztuka US Racing 2m04.154s +3.746s 18
17 Brando Badoer Van Amersfoort Racing 2m04.348s +3.940s 20
18 Marcos Flack R-ace GP 2m04.366s +3.958s 21
19 Jules Castro Van Amersfoort Racing 2m04.541s +4.133s 22
20 Emerson Fittipaldi Jr Van Amersfoort Racing 2m04.796s +4.388s 22
21 Pedro Clerot AKM Motorsport 2m04.855s +4.447s 20
22 Frederik Lund R-ace GP 2m04.969s +4.561s 16
23 Jonas Ried PHM Racing 2m05.182s +4.774s 20
24 Ethan Ischer Jenzer Motorsport 2m05.318s +4.910s 22
25 Pedro Perino US Racing 2m05.452s +5.044s 18
26 Maya Weug Iron Lynx 2m05.989s +5.581s 22
27 Andrea Frassineti Cars Racing 2m06.004s +5.596s 22
28 Elia Sperandio Maffi Racing 2m06.848s +6.440s 11
29 Alex Partyshev Jenzer Motorsport 2m06.858s +6.450s 20
30 Viktoria Blokina PHM Racing 2m07.134s +6.726s 18
31 Ismail Akhmed AKM Motorsport 2m08.497s +8.089s 18
32 Rishab Jain BWR Motorsport 2m10.064s +9.656s 20
33 Giovanni Maschio AS Motorsport 2m10.539s +10.131s 14