Home Featured De Palo gets Spanish F4 victory after Rinicella’s winning pass penalised

De Palo gets Spanish F4 victory after Rinicella’s winning pass penalised

by Alejandro Alonso Lopez

Photo: Campos Racing

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)
Pos Driver Team Gap
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 Daniel Macia GRS
Ret Pablo Sarrazin Monlau Motorsport
Ret Jesse Carrasquedo Jr Campos Racing
Ret Alexander Bolduev Drivex School
Ret Noah Lisle Carlin
DNS Noah Stromsted Campos Racing
Fastest lap: De Palo, 2m23.857s