Home Formula 4Indian F4 Cooper Webster leads inaugural round of Indian F4 championship

Cooper Webster leads inaugural round of Indian F4 championship

by Ida Wood

Photo: Indian F4

The inaugural round of the Indian Formula 4 championship, in which MP Motorsport run all the cars, took place at Chennai this weekend.

Akshay Bohra set the pace in practice with a 1m36.905s, leading Cooper Webster by 0.336 seconds and Shahan Ali Mohsin by 0.502s. Rishon Rajeev and Alex Sawer were also within a second of the pace, and there were 11 drivers on track.

In the first qualifying session Bohra was again the driver to beat. A 1m36.721s earned him pole for the first ever Indian F4 race by 0.209s over Rajeev, who had been on top by 0.704s with two-and-a-half minutes to go before Bohra moved ahead, with Ali Mohsin and Sawer third and fourth fastest.

There was a 10-minute break before Q2, in which Bohra went even faster with a 1m36.528s lap. He had a gap of 0.465s to Rajeev in second (who was once again fastest until the final two-and-a-half minutes), Sawer was 0.559s off the pace in third, and both Ali Mohsin and Webster set 1m37.356s to qualify fourth and fifth.

The first race began with 25 minutes plus one lap as the race distance, and Bohra streaked away at the start while several drivers had messy launches. A pile-up was avoided when the midfield compressed into a corner halfway through lap one, and Boha finished the lap 1.106s ahead of Rajeev. Sawer meanwhile dropped from fourth to sixth behind Rishab Jain and Rohaan Madesh.

Rajeev closed in on Bohra through lap two, then was brought onto his tail the lap after as the safety car came out. Bohra tried breaking away on the restart but Rajeev kept with him. The gap between them exceeded a second again on lap nine, but Rajeev then matched the leader’s pace.

Although Bohra grew his gap to 1.9 seconds on lap 11, his advantage was heavily reduced on the final lap as he was the first to encounter a surprise hailstorm which was initially only hitting one part of the track. The race was then put under safety car conditions as a monsoon hit the whole circuit to ensure the drivers got to the finish safely. Bohra won ahead of Rajeev, Ali Mohsin and Sawer.

The finishing order of the top six in race one was reversed to form the race two grid on Sunday, putting Webster on pole ahead of Rishab Jain.

There was lots of wheelspin off the line but Webster got into turn one with a gap to everyone else. Jain had to hold off Rajeev through the first lap, helping Webster pull away by several seconds. On lap two Rajeev ploughed into the back of Jain, who fell to fifth behind Bohra and Ali Mohsin.

Although Rajeev took second, he had a gap of almost five seconds to make up on Webster and with a 15s post-race penalty to be applied for causing an avoidable collision. Sawer broke his front wing in the drama and fell down the order on lap four before eventually pitting a lap later.

Rajeev made little impact on Webster’s lead, reducing it by a few tenths of a second before Webster brought it back up to 5.3s on lap 11. Soon Rajeev was having to think about Bohra behind.

At the end of the 17-lap race there was a gap of 6.361s between Webster and Rajeev, with 0.532s between Rajeev and Bohra. The penalty dropped Rajeev down to fourth, with Ali Mohsin being promoted onto the podium.

Bohra converted pole into victory by 3.531s in race three, but a 25s post-race penalty then dropped him to seventh and handed the win and points lead to Webster.

At the start Bohra immediately swept to the inside to defend his lead, then a few corners later pushed Rajeev off as he tried to take the lead. Webster slipped past both but then at the chicane Bohra hit him and reclaimed first place.

Webster continued in second while Rajeev dropped to the back an spent the rest of the race on a recovery drive to fifth, which became fourth after Bohra’s penalty. Sawer went off exiting turn one on lap two but managed to regain control of his car without losing position, and finished a distant third on-the-road.

Race 1 (13 laps)
1 Akshay Bohra 26m32.087s
2 Rishon Rajeev +1.503s
3 Shahan Ali Mohsin +5.196s
4 Alex Sawer +7.207s
5 Rishab Jain +9.544s
6 Cooper Webster +10.226s
7 Nooris Gafoor +16.840s
8 Jack Taylor +17.622s
Ret Rohaan Madesh
Ret Arjun Chheda
Pole: Bohra, 1m36.721s
Fastest lap: Bohra, 1m27.285s

Race 2 (17 laps)
1 Webster
2 Bohra +6.893s
3 Ali Moshin +18.940s
4 Rajeev +21.361s
5 Jain +26.283s
6 Madesh +31.242s
7 Chheda +33.816s
8 Taylor +35.000s
9 Gafoor +51.110s
10 Sawer +1 lap
FL: Rajeev

Race 3 (17 laps)
1 Webster
2 Sawer +9.207s
3 Ali Mohsin +14.426s
4 Rajeev +15.510s
5 Madesh +19.820s
6 Chheda +21.116s
7 Bohra +21.469s
8 Jain +28.708s
9 Taylor +29.438s
10 Gafoor +1 lap
P: Bohra, 1m36.528s
FL: Bohra

Championship standings
1 Webster 58   2 Bohra 53   3 Ali Mohsin 45   4 Rajeev 43   5 Sawer 31   6 Jain 24   7 Madesh 18   8 Chheda 14   9 Gafoor 10   10 Taylor 10