Home Formula 4Italian F4 Prema’s Wharton fastest in Italian F4 practice at Spa

Prema’s Wharton fastest in Italian F4 practice at Spa

by Ida Wood

Photo: ACI Sport

Prema’s Ferrari junior James Wharton was the fastest driver in Italian Formula 4 practice at Spa-Francorchamps.

Van Amersfoort Racing trio Matheus Ferreira, Brando Badoer and Ivan Domingues set the pace at first in FP1, and Badoer was fastest on a 2m23.316s after 10 minutes and just 0.062 seconds up on Domingues.

Badoer improved to 1m22.693s, with Ferreira three tenths of a second back, as R-ace GP’s Raphael Narac broke into the top four. He was shuffled out of it though once the Prema drivers got up to speed, with Wharton setting a 2m22.085s to lead an improving Badoer by 0.516s and Domingues by 0.623s. Ferreira was fourth fastest, and Jenzer Motorsport’s Ethan Ischer was briefly fifth.

US Racing’s Kacper Sztuka dropped to 19th but ran in cleaner air than his opposition and jumped back up to second place, as Rashid Al Dhaheri and Ugo Ugochukwu put two more of Prema’s cars in the top seven as the halfway point of FP1 arrived.

Wharton did not improve in the session’s second half, and spent much of it in the pits, while his Prema team-mates found more pace.

Arvid Lindblad rose to third and Ugochukwu to fifth with 13 minutes to go, and stayed in those positions until with one minute to go red flags were waved which ended the session.

The end gap between Wharton and Sztuka was 0.125s, with Lindlad a further 0.360s behind. The top 11 were covered by 0.885s, and of the 31 cars on track only VAR’s Ismail Akhmed failed to set a flying lap.

Wharton led PHM Racing’s James Egozi at the start of FP2 before it was red flagged due to R-ace’s Matteo Quintarelli hitting trouble in the second sector after completing just one lap.

At that point, almost 10 minutes in, there was a Prema lockout of the top four consisting of Wharton, Lindblad, Ugochukwu and Tuukka Taponen.

The session restarted with just over 19 minutes left on the clock, and Sztuka was first to make a big pace again as he went fastest with a 2m23.894s lap.

Within two minutes he had been knocked down to seventh, and Ferreira lowered the pace to 2m23.009s.

He was then usurped by Al Dhaheri, who was the first driver in FP2 to break into the 2m22s, but a familiar order then reasserted itself with Wharton setting a 2m22.073s to lead Badoer by 0.057s.

Ugochukwu and Taponen completed the top four, with Sztuka fifth, his team-mate Zachary David sixth and Ferreira down in seventh ahead of Al Dhaheri going into the final five minutes of practice.

Wharton then set an unmatchable 2m21.698s as Sztuka rose back up to second, 0.312s off his rival’s pace. He had time to improve again, getting within 0.219s of Wharton before red flags waved again and ended the session early.

The only drivers not to impove on their FP1 pace were Domingues, Narac, Niko Lacorte, Ischer, Kim Hwarang and Quintarelli.

Free practice results
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 James Wharton Prema 2m21.698s 22
2 Kacper Sztuka US Racing 2m21.917s +0.219s 23
3 Brando Badoer Van Amersfoort Racing 2m22.130s +0.432s 23
4 Ugo Ugochukwu Prema 2m22.156s +0.458s 23
5 Tuukka Taponen Prema 2m22.170s +0.472s 22
6 Arvid Lindblad Prema 2m22.284s +0.586s 22
7 Zachary David US Racing 2m22.493s +0.795s 23
8 Rashid Al Dhaheri Prema 2m22.615s +0.917s 23
9 Ivan Domingues Van Amersfoort Racing 2m22.658s +0.960s 25
10 Matheus Ferreira Van Amersfoort Racing 2m22.704s +1.006s 26
11 Akshay Bohra US Racing 2m22.782s +1.084s 23
12 Raphael Narac R-ace GP 2m22.936s +1.238s 23
13 Alfio Spina BVM Racing 2m22.970s +1.272s 22
14 Gianmarco Pradel US Racing 2m23.010s +1.312s 19
15 Valentin Kluss PHM Racing 2m23.035s +1.337s 25
16 Ruiqi Liu US Racing 2m23.036s +1.338s 20
17 Ariel Elkin Jenzer Motorsport 2m23.057s +1.359s 25
18 Nadhavud Bhirombhakdi PHM Racing 2m23.102s +1.404s 24
19 James Egozi PHM Racing 2m23.110s +1.412s 24
20 Niko Lacorte Prema 2m23.112s +1.414s 22
21 Davide Larini AKM Motorsport 2m23.233s +1.535s 26
22 Bianca Bustamante Prema 2m23.397s +1.699s 25
23 Ethan Ischer Jenzer Motorsport 2m23.460s +1.762s 23
24 Jack Beeton Van Amersfoort Racing 2m23.527s +1.829s 25
25 Frederik Lund AKM Motorsport 2m23.615s +1.917s 23
26 Kim Hwarang Jenzer Motorsport 2m23.631s +1.933s 23
27 Matteo Quintarelli BVM Racing 2m23.644s +1.946s 14
28 Tina Hausmann AKM Motorsport 2m24.107s +2.409s 26
29 Viktoria Blokhina PHM Racing 2m24.223s +2.525s 23
30 Guido Luchetti Airflow Racing 2m24.427s +2.729s 22
31 Ismail Akhmed Van Amersfoort Racing 2m25.271s +3.573s 24