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
|2||Kacper Sztuka||US Racing||2m21.917s||+0.219s||23|
|3||Brando Badoer||Van Amersfoort Racing||2m22.130s||+0.432s||23|
|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|
|21||Davide Larini||AKM Motorsport||2m23.233s||+1.535s||26|
|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|