Home Formula 4Italian F4 New Ferrari protege Tuukka Taponen tops Italian F4 test at Vallelunga

New Ferrari protege Tuukka Taponen tops Italian F4 test at Vallelunga

by Ida Wood

Photo: Ferrari

New Ferrari Driver Academy member Tuukka Taponen was fastest in a post-season test for Italian Formula 4 teams at Vallelunga this week.

Taponen, driving for Prema, topped three of the four sessions that were held over Tuesday and Wednesday, and began the test on the first morning by setting the pace by over half a second.

His team-mate Rashid Al Dhaheri was closest, 0.575s behind, then Van Amersfoort Racing’s Brando Badoer was a further 0.023s back in third. US Racing’s Zachary David was fourth fastest, 0.607s off Taponen’s pace, and PHM Racing’s Valentin Klus was 0.007s behind him in fifth place. Kluss was the only driver who did not improve their pace in later sessions.

Taponen trimmed 0.049s off his previous benchmark on Tuesday afternoon. This time his margin at the top was 0.341s, with US Racing’s Akshay Bohra in second place.

US racing star Nikita Johnson was third fastest for PHM Racing, 0.0461s behind, and the top 13 were covered by a second. Alexandru Iancu, driving an older first-generation F4 car for Real Racing, missed the session.

Despite more rubber being laid down the next day, Taponen’s 1m33.991s lap – the only sub-1m34s lap over the two days – ended up being the fastest of the test, with Bohra, Al Dhaheri, Jenzer Motorsport’s Reno Francot and VAR’s Jesse Carrasquedo Jr also not improving on Wednesday.

Taponen was fastest by 0.254s over David on Wednesday morning, with Badoer and Prema’s Alpine Academy affiliate Kean Nakamura Berta also within three tenths of a second of the pace. David’s laptime would put him fifth overall in the test, as the majority of the drivers found more pace in the afternoon.

Jenzer’s Ethan Ischer pipped Taponen to top spot by 0.014 seconds in the last session. Johnson was 0.116s back in third, and Bohra was 0.213s behind in fourth. He just edged Nakamura Berta and David on pace, with the session the most closely contested as the top 16 were spread by under a second in laptime.

All of PHM’s drivers bar Johnson were running on Giti tyres rather than Pirellis to prepare for the F4 United Arab Emirates championship.

Test results
Pos Driver Team Time Gaps Laps
1 Tuukka Taponen Prema 1m33.991s 182
2 Ethan Ischer Jenzer Motorsport 1m34.279s +0.288s 230
3 Akshay Bohra US Racing 1m34.332s +0.341s 193
4 Nikita Johnson PHM Racing 1m34.395s +0.404s 184
5 Zachary David US Racing 1m34.467s +0.476s 208
6 Brando Badoer VAR 1m34.492s +0.501s 176
7 Kean Nakamura Berta Prema 1m34.500s +0.509s 181
8 Ruiqi Liu US Racing 1m34.538s +0.547s 209
9 Rashid Al Dhaheri Prema 1m34.614s +0.623s 186
10 Valentin Kluss PHM Racing 1m34.654s +0.663s 190
11 Alfio Spina BVM Racing 1m34.666s +0.675s 193
12 Gianmarco Pradel US Racing 1m34.711s +0.720s 218
13 Carl Bennett AKM Motorsport 1m34.746s +0.765s 177
14 Alvaro Cho Jenzer Motorsport 1m34.968s +0.977s 192
15 Evan Giltaire R-ace GP 1m35.043s +1.052s 186
16 Reno Francot Jenzer Motorsport 1m35.087s +1.096s 176
17 Edoardo Borelli Iron Lynx 1m35.095s +1.104s 163
18 Jesse Carrasquedo Jr VAR 1m35.218s +1.227s 147
19 Luca Viisorieanu [Gen1] Real Racing 1m35.231s +1.240s 213
20 Raphael Narac R-ace GP 1m35.284s +1.293s 162
21 Davide Larini AKM Motorsport 1m35.375s +1.384s 172
22 Andrea Bodellini BVM Racing 1m35.481s +1.490s 196
23 #31 [Gen1] Real Racing 1m35.967s +1.976s 105
24 Mattia Bucci AS Motorsport 1m36.250s +2.259s 214
25 Viktoria Blokhina PHM Racing 1m36.427s +2.436s 160
26 Jakob Bergmeister PHM Racing 1m36.543s +2.552s 195
27 Alexandru Iancu [Gen1] Real Racing 1m38.029s +4.038s 29