Charlie Wurz, son of former Formula 1 driver and Le Mans 24 Hours winner Alex, made a surprise single-seater debut in Italian Formula 4 last weekend and was a frontrunner.
The 15-year-old Austrian topped the championship’s in-season test at Vallelunga earlier this month with Prema, and off the back of that he decided with the team to join its line-up for the races at the circuit having originally planned a far later debut.
He qualified fourth, 10th and third for the weekend’s races, and converted that into two non-scores and then a fourth place in the final race after battling for the podium.
“I’m very happy with this weekend, it started quite well with a good pace in free practice,” said Wurz.
It wasn’t quite his car racing debut, as he drove a Citroen in the entry-level class of the Austrian Rallycross Championship two weeks ago. He won his first heat, and came third in the final.
The Vallelunga test came days later. Wurz had signed with Prema to participate in all official Italian F4 tests, with a racing bow in October’s Monza season finale under consideration, but his frontrunning test pace fast-tracked his open-wheel strategy.
He finished 19th on his F4 debut following a throttle issue that initially left him sinking down the order, then came 12th in race two despite falling to the back of the field after stalling off the line.
“In race two we had an engine issue in the first lap but it resolved itself and we fought back and gained 11 positions.
“It was just a mistake on my part. I stalled at the start, which was annoying because we had a decent starting position and a very good pace.
“In race three, I started from third and we were on pace with the others, almost having the fastest lap and chasing down the car in front. The fight for third place was very close with similar laptimes. We had a nice consistent race.
“We showed we were fast and we won in the rookie standings. I think we can be quite happy with that.
“There are still things to work on, especially the starts. I will focus on that for the following tests. I’m very thankful to the team for their support: full push for my next race!”
Despite missing the first six races of the year, Wurz is already up to 15th in the standings.
Wurz was introduced to F4 last year when he featured in the Ferrari Driver Academy’s first Scouting World Finals, then in December tested with US Racing.
He was then a finalist of ACI Sport’s Federal Supercorso which included testing with Iron Lynx, and was named the winner of the award’s karting segment. At the start of 2021 he tested with MP Motorsport, with his primary programme being in OK karts as a factory Exprit driver until he left karting to join Prema.