William Macintyre was fastest in British Formula 4 practice at Snetterton on Friday, as Matteo De Palo joined the grid with Argenti Motorsport.
The Italian karting graduate made his F4 debut with a winning cameo in the Formula Winter Series this February, driving for Campos Racing. He then returned to the team for a full Spanish F4 campaign, and sits third in the standings with one win after the opening round.
“Woah! Surprise, surprise, lads. I’m gonna race the British F4 round at Snetterton this weekend,” was how De Palo announced his British F4 cameo.
The first 45-minute practice session took place early in the morning, and Hitech GP’s Macintyre was the initial pacesetter.
Rodin Carlin’s Louis Sharp was first to lap sub-1m50s, but after a few minutes Macintyre responded to reclaim first place. His team-mate Kanato Le was next to the top, by 0.030 seconds, and Fortec Motorsports’ Aiden Neate reduced that advantage to 0.020s before FP1 was red flagged.
After it restarted it took a while before laptime improvements came in, and it was JHR Developments’ Deagen Fairclough who eventually usurped Le.
At this point the track was busy, with many drivers able to benefit from a slipstream if they were not being hampered by traffic, and the order changed multiple times.
Neate went fastest, then with two successive improvements Macintyre lowered the pace into the 1m48s. His team-mate James Piszcyk went even faster, then Fortec’s James Higgins moved ahead before being shuffled back to second a few moments later by Neate.
Another improvement of 0.01s from Neate for a 1m48.222s put him 0.171s clear, as Higgins went no faster in his remaining laps.
FP2 took place in the afternoon and Argenti’s Patrick Heuzenroeder led the first third of the session, and after improving several times reached a 1m48.764s benchmark.
Neate then moved ahead with a 1m48.759s, before De Palo posted a 1m48.732s two minutes later. De Palo found another tenth of a second to keep him on top for almost 10 minutes, and the driver who usurped him was Chris Dittmann Racing’s Daniel Guinchard. He not only became the first driver to beat the FP1 benchmark, but also the first to lap in the 1m47s.
Second place was shared between multiple drivers in the minutes after, then Macintyre set a 1m47.752s with 11 minutes to go. That was enough to end the day on top, as FP2 was red flagged with five minutes left to run.
Carlin’s Dion Gowda got within 0.085s of Macintyre, Le’s penultimate lap put him 0.164s behind in third, and Guinchard ended up fourth.
Higgins, Aqil Alibhai (Virtuosi Racing) and Fairclough failed to improve on their FP1 pace.
Free practice results
|1||William Macintyre||Hitech GP||1m47.752s||33|
|3||Kanato Le||Hitech GP||1m47.916s||+0.164s||33|
|4||Daniel Guinchard||Chris Dittmann Racing||1m47.956s||+0.204s||35|
|5||Aiden Neate||Fortec Motorsports||1m48.198s||+0.446s||37|
|6||James Piszcyk||Hitech GP||1m48.287s||+0.535s||36|
|8||James Higgins||Fortec Motorsports||1m48.393s||+0.641s||38|
|9||Gabriel Stilp||Hitech GP||1m48.508s||+0.756s||33|
|10||Matteo De Palo||Argenti Motorsport||1m48.634s||+0.882s||37|
|11||Gustav Jonsson||Chris Dittmann Racing||1m48.670s||+0.918s||34|
|12||Patrick Heuzenroeder||Argenti Motorsport||1m48.764s||+1.012s||40|
|13||Aqil Alibhai||Virtuosi Racing||1m48.815s||+1.063s||37|
|14||Deagen Fairclough||JHR Developments||1m49.055s||+1.303s||36|
|15||Kai Daryanani||Virtuosi Racing||1m49.082s||+1.330s||25|
|16||Jack Sherwood||Chris Dittmann Racing||1m49.117s||+1.365s||35|
|17||Sonny Smith||JHR Developments||1m49.123s||+1.371s||32|
|20||Dowe Dedecker||Virtuosi Racing||1m49.536s||+1.784s||38|
|21||Jaden Pariat||Argenti Motorsport||1m49.715s||+1.963s||37|
|22||Isaac Barashi||Argenti Motorsport||1m49.717s||+1.965s||35|