Home Formula 4Italian F4 Sztuka and Ugochukwu head Italian F4’s split qualifying at Imola

Sztuka and Ugochukwu head Italian F4’s split qualifying at Imola

by Roger Gascoigne

Photo: ACI Sport

Prema’s Ugo Ugochukwu set the fastest time in qualifying for round one of the Italian Formula 4 season at Imola, with US Racing’s Kacper Sztuka heading the slower first group.

With 37 entries, the field was split into two 20-minute sessions for qualifying in order to determine the grids for the first three races of the weekend.

Prema’s Nicola Lacorte earned a front row grid slot for races one and three by being second fastest in Ugochukwu’s group

Sztuka set the early pace ahead of Van Amersfoort Racing’s Brando Badoer in Q1, and with four minutes remaining Ivan Domingues – a surprise polesitter at Imola in 2022 – moved ahead of his VAR team-mate for second, 0.183 seconds behind Sztuka.

However, Badoer continued to improve, a 1m44.222s on his eighth lap putting him back on top, with US Racing’s Zachary David moving up to second, just 0.006s behind.

But Sztuka put in a final effort, setting fastest sector times in each of the first thee sectors to take the chequered flag in 1m44.124s. With Prema’s Red Bull junior Arvid Lindblad also improving on his final lap, Badoer was pushed back to third.

David’s final lap, which had been fast enough to snatch third, was deleted for track limits at the Variante Alta, dropping him back to fourth with Domingues fifth and Ferrari junior James Wharton in sixth for Prema.

Red Bull junior Enzo Deligny could manage only 13th in his group on his car racing debut with AKM Motorsport.

VAR’s Alpine junior Mateus Ferreira, who had impressed with his speed in practice, failed to set a laptime and will therefore start from the back of the grid.

Ugochukwu was immediately on the pace in group two, with R-ace GP’s Matteo de Palo slotting into second, 0.335s back from the McLaren junior.

Ugochukwu continued to improve lap-by-lap and he came within 0.002s of getting below 1m44s. Prema’s Niko Lacorte had moved into second but was unable to match the pace of his flying team-mate.

US Racing’s Akshay Bohra held onto third, over half a second adrift of Ugochukwu, when a red flag ended the session early with two minutes still on the clock.

Nandhavud Bhirombhakdi was fourth fastest in the session for PHM Racing, with de Palo ending up in fifth.

Ferrari junior Tuukka Taponen could manage only ninth in the group, giving him plenty of work to do in the races.

Qualifying results
Q1 Q2
Pos Driver Team Time Laps Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1 K Sztuka US Racing 1m44.124s 9 1 U Ugochukwu Prema 1m44.002s 7
2 A Lindblad Prema +0.036s 8 2 N Lacorte Prema +0.365s 6
3 B Badoer VAR +0.098s 9 3 A Bohra US Racing +0.532s 8
4 Z David US Racing +0.104s 9 4 N Bhirombhakdi PHM Racing +0.558s 8
5 I Domingues VAR +0.131s 10 5 M De Palo R-ace GP +0.590s 7
6 J Wharton Prema +0.272s 8 6 R Al Dhaheri Prema +0.792s 6
7 A Spina BVM Racing +0.570s 11 7 V Kluss PHM Racing +0.895s 8
8 G Pradel US Racing +0.783s 9 8 J Egozi PHM Racing +0.967s 8
9 R Narac R-ace GP +0.960s 10 9 T Taponen Prema +1.088s 7
10 A Nobels Prema +1.021s 9 10 E Ischer Jenzer +1.105s 7
11 J Beeton VAR +1.083s 10 11 M Quintarelli R-ace GP +1.127s 7
12 K Hwarang Jenzer +1.248s 11 12 R Liu US Racing +1.152s 7
13 E Deligny AKM Motorsport +1.375s 10 13 T Hausmann AKM Motorsport +1.338s 9
14 J Carrasquedo Jr BVM Racing +1.541s 11 14 D Larini AKM Motorsport +1.416s 8
15 G Peebles AKM Motorsport +1.646s 10 15 A Elkin Jenzer +1.700s 8
16 I Akhmed VAR +2.235s 10 16 V Blokhina PHM Racing +1.777s 8
17 G Luchetti Airflow Racing +2.951s 11 17 A Frassineti BVM Racing +1.958s 8
18 M Quondamcarlo AS Motorsport +2.989s 11 18 F Wiebelhaus AS Motorsport +2.314s 9
19 M Ferreira VAR no time