Campos Racing’s Matteo De Palo won Spanish Formula 4’s third race at Spa-Francorchamps after Valerio Rinicella was penalised for overtaking him off-track in the last corner.
MP Motorsport driver Rinicella was first to cross the finish line after a dramatic last-lap battle with De Palo. He had lost the lead of the race at the Kemmel straight after having commanded every lap prior to a late safety car restart and eventually reclaimed it at the Bus Stop chicane. However, he exceeded the track limits in the process, which resulted in a time penalty that demoted him out of the top 10.
Rinicella’s team-mate Pedro Clerot, who finished third on the road, inherited second place, with Campos’ Christian Ho claiming the last podium spot. Clerot leaves Spa as the first points leader of the 2023 season.
Rinicella had pole and led away at the start, whereas team-mate Keanu Al Azhari dropped from second to third behind De Palo. Sainteloc Racing’s Theophile Nael was the biggest gainer on lap one, moving up from 12th to sixth.
The safety car was deployed on lap two to clear the cars of Rodin Carlin’s Noah Lisle and Drivex School’s Alexander Bolduev, who had retired in a coming together at Les Combes.
Racing resumed with under 12 minutes remaining on the clock. Rinicella restarted well and was able to open a half-second gap over Al Azhari, who had regained second before the safety car came out.
Al Azhari defended the inside with late braking as he was under attack from De Palo going into Les Combes. Both drivers had to take the run-off area with De Palo rejoining the track in second. Clerot took advantage of the situation to drive around the outside of Al Azhari at turn eight and consolidate the overtake for third place at turn nine.
Behind them, several drivers battled for position with Nael progressing to fourth place.
A second safety car period began after Campos’s Jesse Carrasquedo could not brake in time at turn 10 and collided with Monlau Motorsport’s Pablo Sarrazain. The incident forced Global Racing Service’s Daniel Macia into the gravel, but he was already off-track as a consequence of an aggressive move from team-mate Carl Bennett.
The second restart left time for one last lap of racing. De Palo benefitted from Rinicella’s slipstream to claim the lead under braking at Les Combes.
Rinicella stayed on De Palo’s tail and attempted to reclaim first place at the Bus Stop chicane. Both drivers went into the run-off and Rinicella eventually took the chequered flag 0.011 seconds ahead of his countryman. However, the MP Motorsport driver was handed a five-second time penalty after the race for overtaking off-the-track, which demoted him to 12th place in the final race classification.
Campos’ Enzo Deligny also tried to gain places in the last lap. He took the inside line at Blanchimont to pass Nael for fourth, and Nael touched the rear-left tyre of Deligny in a desperate attempt to recover the position at the chicane, sending Deligny into a spin. Nael crossed the finish line in seventh, and Deligny was classified 16th.
Race result (9 laps)
|1||Matteo De Palo||Campos Racing||28m02.882s|
|2||Pedro Clerot||MP Motorsport||+0.424s|
|3||Christian Ho||Campos Racing||+2.083s|
|4||Keanu Al Azhari||MP Motorsport||+2.432s|
|5||Jeronimo Berrio||MP Motorsport||+2.456s|
|6||Theophile Nael||Sainteloc Racing||+2.539s|
|7||Fernando Barrichello||Monlau Motorsport||+2.915s|
|8||Daniel Nogales||Drivex School||+3.256s|
|9||Frederico Al Rifai||Carlin||+3.741s|
|10||Alex Ninovic||Monlau Motorsport||+4.428s|
|11||Flavio Olivieri||Cram Motorsport||+4.967s|
|12||Valerio Rinicella||MP Motorsport||+4.989s|
|13||Eric Gene||Tecnicar Motorsport||+5.464s|
|14||Alvise Rodella||MP Motorsport||+6.139s|
|15||Luciano Morano||Sainteloc Racing||+6.507s|
|16||Enzo Deligny||Campos Racing||+7.386s|
|17||Griffin Peebles||Tecnicar Motorsport||+7.889s|
|18||Juan Cota||Drivex School||+7.962s|
|19||Theodor Jensen||Sainteloc Racing||+8.526s|
|20||Alexander Abkhazava||Drivex School||+8.790s|
|21||Ricardo Gracia||Monlau Motorsport||+9.003s|
|22||George Zhuravskiy||Drivex School||+11.305s|
|23||Maxi Restrepo||Drivex School||+15.212s|
|24||Carl Bennett||GRS||+2 laps|
|Ret||Pablo Sarrazin||Monlau Motorsport|
|Ret||Jesse Carrasquedo Jr||Campos Racing|
|Ret||Alexander Bolduev||Drivex School|
|DNS||Noah Stromsted||Campos Racing|
|Fastest lap: De Palo, 2m23.857s|