The Chinese Formula 4 season began at Zhuhai this weekend. Round one had been set to take place at Zhengzhou, but last month the calendar was revised.
The two qualifying sessions at Zhuhai took place on Friday, and Smart Life Racing’s Ruiqi Liu was fastest in both. His team-mate Kaishun Liu was second fastest in Q1, ahead of Fukang Jiang and Champ Motorsport pair Tiago Rodrigues and Hongyu Zhang.
Race one ran on Saturday morning and Liu took on the formation lap with excitement. In fact he did it so quickly he then spent two minutes waiting for everyone else to reach the grid.
There was a staller at the start, Jiang passed Kaishun Liu for second after several corners of battling and Jing Zefeng got himself between the Champ Motorsport duo. Liu tried reclaiming second on lap two but could not do it, while Zhang moved back past Zefeng.
The top four remained close, and although an off for Marco Lau on lap four did not require the safety car as he got going again, it was summoned a lap later when Man Hei Cheong crashed at turn one after running onto the grass in a battle with Wong Yiuming.
Racing resumed on lap eight, only for the safety car to appear again as Weiyuan Fang crashed at turn one. The next restart was on lap 11, and Zhang passed Rodrigues for fourth.
Jiang tried several times to pass Liu for the lead on the next lap, but victory looked more assured once his namesake started pressuring Jiang in the last laps. Zhang and Rodrigues also battled hard to the finish.
Kaishun Liu won the reversed-grid race two, with Zefeng not making the grid due to a car issue.
Yiuming started on pole but the inside line meant Wei Jiang led into turn one. But Yiuming quickly reclaimed first place as positions constantly changed behind.
Liu took only half a lap to go from seventh to first though, with Zhang occupying second place.
The race one-winning Liu was only ninth after two laps, and was a very distant sixth the lap after that. He took fifth from Gan Yicheng into turn one on lap six, and his gap to the front reduced drastically on lap nine as Lau spun then got collected by Cheong and a spin for Yiuming meant the safety car was summoned.
Racing resumed on lap 13 of 15 and Liu rose to third at turn one as Zhang went off. Fukang Jiang took second and attacked the leader but was forced slightly off, and Ruiqi Liu got through.
Jiang almost collided with Liu into the final corner, but reclaimed second at turn one. Liu forced him wide at turn four and took the position back to finish second.
Kaishun Liu took the lead from poleman Ruiqi at the start of race three on Sunday by having the inside line, but then it fell back into the latter’s favour as Fukang Jiang divebombed turn one and wiped out himself and the erstwhile leader.
After a brief safety car period, Liu led the field away. Rodrigues went to pass him at turn six, then Zefeng attacked Rodrigues at the turn seven hairpin and they made contact, with Zhang passing both.
The safety car returned the next lap as Yicheng spun out, and on the next restart Liu went unchallenged by the continually battling Zhang and Rodrigues and then pulled away to win.
Fang had reversed-grid pole for race four, and made a great start while Wei Jiang spun off exiting turn one. Fukang Jiang was leading before the end of the lap, while Ruiqi Liu climbed from 10th to seventh.
Liu passed two more cars on lap two, then did a two-in-one move at the last corner of lap three for third. Kaishun Liu demoted Fang to sixth on lap four, then the latter spun out of seventh at the last corner of lap six.
That meant the safety car came out, and reduced Ruiqi Liu’s gap to the front from seven seconds to nothing. He passed Zefeng at the restart, then Kaishun Liu cut turn four entirely trying to pass both and bounced into the gravel, sending Ruiqi Liu off and down to fifth.
Zefeng reclaimed second, Ruiqi Liu took fourth from Rodriguez before the end of the lap and Kaishun Liu dropped to seventh.
Ruiqi Liu returned to third on the next lap, then could not make a move on Zefeng stick and a queue of cars started to form behind. Zhang briefly got by Liu, but as he reclaimed third Kaishun Liu also passed Zhang for fourth.
The safety car then came out due to Yingfu Hon spinning out, and with no time for a restart it meant Jiang won and Ruiqi Liu built an early points lead by finishing third.
There was Formula Regional action in China last weekend, as round two of the Open Formula Challenge took place at Shanghai.
Race 1 (16 laps)
1 Ruiqu Liu Smart Life Racing 31m31.387s
2 Fukang Jiang LEO Geeke +1.117s
3 Kaishun Liu Smart Life Racing +1.618s
4 Hongyu Zhang Champ Motorsport +6.814s
5 Tiago Rodrigues Champ Motorsport +7.187s
6 Jing Zefeng Ningbo Team +11.237s
7 Yang Shengwei Chengdu Racing +17.753s
8 Gan Yicheng [team unknown] +23.953s
9 Wei Jiang Pointer Racing +26.579s
10 Wong Yiuming Henmax Motorsport +34.763s
Pole: R Liu, 1m43.081s
Fastest lap: Jiang, 1m43.410s
Race 2 (15 laps)
1 K Liu 31m04.585s
2 R Liu +0.310s
3 F Jiang +2.449s
4 Zefeng +3.531s
5 Rodrigues +3.872s
6 Yicheng +5.193s
7 Shengwei +8.044s
8 Patrick Tsang [team unknown] +10.757s
9 Zhang +11.790s
10 W Jiang +15.598s
FL: R Liu, 1m43.660s
Race 3 (16 laps)
1 R Liu 31m21.590s
2 Zhang +6.995s
3 Rodriguez +7.315s
4 Zefeng +9.653s
5 Shengwei +29.757s
6 W Jiang +38.702s
7 F Jiang +39.021s
8 Tsang +41.466s
9 Marco Lau Champ Motorsport +43.101s
10 Weiyuan Fang Pointer Racing +46.000s
P: R Liu, 1m42.808s
FL: R Liu, 1m43.796s
Race 4 (16 laps)
1 F Jiang 33m03.066s
2 Zefeng +0.336s
3 R Liu +1.036s
4 K Liu +1.927s
5 Rodrigues +2.233s
6 Yicheng +3.252s
7 Lau +3.501s
8 Tsang +3.999s
9 Man Hei Cheong Blackjack Racing +4.867s
10 Yiuming +6.064s
FL: K Liu, 1m43.805s
1 R Liu 83 2 F Jiang 64 3 K Liu 52 4 Zefeng 50 5 Rodrigues 45 6 Zhang 32 7 Shengwei 22 8 Yicheng 20 9 Tsang 12 10 W Jiang 11