Home Formula 4Italian F4 Prema’s Italian F4 drivers admit to pace struggle at Mugello

Prema’s Italian F4 drivers admit to pace struggle at Mugello

by Ida Wood

Photo: ACI Sport

Prema has now gone six races without a win in Italian Formula 4, and several of its drivers struggled for pace at Mugello.

McLaren Formula 1 junior Ugo Ugochukwu was the team’s lead driver last weekend as he claimed two front row starts in qualifying and finished second in all three races.

His Ferrari-backed team-mate Tuukka Taponen was second in Q1 but his best race result was fourth, and fellow Ferrari junior James Wharton finished third in race three.

“The weekend started much better than previous ones in qualifying,” said Taponen. “It was a bit of a shame in race one. I made a mistake at the start as I stalled. After that, I was able to recover some places, but I got a 10-second penalty that dropped me out of the points again. Race two was a decent one, but nothing special to be done.

“In race three, I was trying to manage the tyres a bit more in the beginning, and then attack in the last laps. Unfortunately, it’s quite difficult to overtake here.”

Wharton said “all weekend we struggled a bit with the pace”, as he dropped out of title contention. Rashid Al Dhaheri took a fourth and a fifth place, two of his best results this season, but had a habit of going off through the gravel when pushing.

“I think we made quite a noticeable improvement compared to the last races. We accomplished our goal which is to constantly improve throughout the season, and so far it’s going well,” he noted.

Arvid Lindblad and Niko Lacorte echoed Wharton’s comments. Lindblad qualified third for two races, but only scored 11 points and lost the championship lead.

“Qualifying didn’t go as planned and we weren’t able to get the maximum performance,” admitted the Red Bull junior.

“In race one I made a mistake at the start, and I got a penalty for that, otherwise I would have been P3. In race two I was third, but had quite big contact in turn one towards the end of the race which put me out of contention. That was unfortunate and also got me a grid penalty for race three, where I struggled quite a lot for pace.”

Lacorte scored one point and “struggled since qualifying where we couldn’t put together the laps we wanted”.

Alex Powell had a positive outlook, despite a best finish of 18th from his first weekend racing cars.

“It was an incredible experience,” said the Mercedes-AMG F1 junior. “From the racing standpoint, it’s about learning everything new, how to manage the race and compete with other drivers closely, especially because the dimensions are a lot different from what I’m used to. It was quite cool to experience that.

“It’s a big learning curve and I know it takes a lot of time to get there. I’m really proud of the progress, and how we were able to improve my driving and the feeling with the car. I’m excited and happy about how my debut went and I’m really looking forward to the next one in Vallelunga.”