Home Featured Antonelli wins in three-way Prema photo finish in opening F4 UAE race

Antonelli wins in three-way Prema photo finish in opening F4 UAE race

by Ida Wood

Photo: F4 UAE

Junior single-seater racing kicked off its 2022 in style at Yas Marina Circuit on Friday, with the opening race Formula 4 United Arab Emirates race ending in a photo finish.

MP Motorsport’s Tasanapol Inthraphuvasak started on pole for the season opener, but stalled on the grid – which was based at the support pitlane rather than the grand prix pit straight – and dropped all the way to the back.

Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema’s Aiden Neate inherited the lead ahead of fellow Prema drivers Andrea Kimi Antonelli, who is standing in for Ferrari junior Rafael Camara this weekend after he tested positive for COVID-19, and James Wharton.

The grid navigated the first two sectors before a divebomb move by Xcel Motorsport’s Jamie Day at turn six led to a crash. MP’s Suleiman Zanfari avoided the lunging car but then cut across the corner and spun himself around the front of AKM Motorsport’s Brando Baoder.

The race was put behind the safety car until the start of lap seven, which left time for four laps of racing. Neate and Antonelli immediately sprinted away, and after a lap Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 junior Antonelli was lining up for the lead.

He tried at the turn six chicane but Neate defended hard and Antonelli had to take to the runoff. When he rejoined the track he allowed Neate back through just before the long turn nine left-hander that technically was the first corner of the lap.

Antonelli picked the outside line and got alongside all the way around the corner but Neate held on and Wharton and Hitech GP’s Alex Dunne were now closing in.

This was now the final lap, and Antonelli tried the outside again at turn six again. He was able to keep it on track but had to compromise his entry to turn seven, allowing Neate and Wharton to draw alongside as they met the chequered flag down the next straight. Antonelli won by 0.003 seconds ahead of Neate, with Wharton 0.108s behind in third.

Inthraphuvasak charged back up to 14th place and took fastest lap.

Race results (10 laps)
Pos Driver Team Time
1 Andrea Kimi Antonelli Prema
2 Aiden Neate Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema +0.003s
3 James Wharton Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema +0.108s
4 Alex Dunne Hitech GP +0.593s
5 Rik Koen MP Motorsport +2.168s
6 Nikita Bedrin PHM Racing +2.940s
7 Martinius Stenshorne 3Y by R-ace GP +3.404s
8 Charlie Wurz Prema +3.937s
9 Vladislav Ryabov GRS +5.243s
10 Sohil Shah Mumbai Falcons by Xcel +5.809s
11 Ollie Gray Hitech GP +6.607s
12 Taylor Barnard PHM Racing +8.111s
13 Ricardo Escotto Cram-Hitech GP +8.124s
14 Tasanapol Inthraphuvasak MP Motorsport +8.924s
15 Nikhil Bohra 3Y by R-ace GP +9.562s
16 Jonas Ried PHM Racing +13.176s
17 Ivan Domingues Xcel Motorsport +13.324s
18 Michael Shin JHR Developments +15.430s
19 Jules Castro Pinnacle Motorsport +17.209s
20 Nandhavud Bhirombhakdi Xcel Motorsport +23.287s
21 Victoria Blokhina 3Y by R-ace GP +23.818s
22 Anshul Gandhi Cram-Hitech GP +28.100s
23 Ismail Akhmedkhodjaev Xcel Motorsport +28.704s
24 Miron Pingasov MP Motorsport +39.800s
Ret Jamie Day Xcel Motorsport
Ret Brando Badoer AKM Motorsport
Ret Suleiman Zanfari MP Motorsport
Fastest lap: Inthraphuvasak, 1m55.624s