US Racing’s Kacper Sztuka capitalised on a superb start at Paul Ricard to take his second Italian Formula 4 win of 2023 in race one of the weekend.
McLaren junior Ugo Ugochukwu was unable to stay with the Pole and, despite closing the gap in the closing laps, had to settle for second ahead of Prema team-mate James Wharton.
Sztuka got a perfect launch from the outside of the front row – “it is one of my strengths” he told Formula Scout after the race – to sweep around polesitter Ugochukwu through turn one, and quickly built a lead.
Behind him, Wharton closed onto the tail of Ugochukwu before dropping back into the clutches of fellow Ferrari junior Tuukka Taponen who had a clear pace advantage in the opening laps.
Taponen looked for a way past into the chicane on the third lap, then past the pit he was right on the tail of Wharton, who weaved to the inside to block his team-mate. That incurred him a black-and-white flag warning, but crucially did keep him ahead. Taponen’s post-race reaction made his feelings about the move abundantly clear.
Sztuka was able to maintain his lead at around 1.8 seconds, extending it slightly by setting the fastest lap before Ugochukwu brought the gap down again.
As the space between the top four equalised, PHM Racing’s James Egozi, having shot through to fifth on the opening lap, held off Van Amersfoort Racing’s closely pursuing Ivan Domingues.
VAR’s Brando Badoer battled Prema’s Arvid Lindblad for eighth, repassing the Red Bull junior on the penultimate lap to claim the position.
US Racing’s Gianmarco Pradel and BVM Racing’s Alfio Spina completed the top 10, with the unfortunate Zachary David losing a points finish with a mechanical issue.
Race result (16 laps)
|1||Kacper Sztuka||US Racing||33m40.943s|
|5||James Egozi||PHM Racing||+9.525s|
|6||Ivan Domingues||Van Amersfoort Racing||+10.236s|
|7||Brando Badoer||Van Amersfoort Racing||+12.692s|
|9||Gianmarco Pradel||US Racing||+18.810s|
|10||Alfio Spina||BVM Racing||+19.991s|
|11||Rashid Al Dhaheri||Prema||+20.595s|
|12||Pablo Sarrazin||Van Amersfoort Racing||+21.131s|
|13||Nandhavud Bhirombhakdi||PHM Racing||+21.721s|
|15||Ariel Elkin||Jenzer Motorsport||+25.951s|
|16||Valentin Kluss||PHM Racing||+26.859s|
|17||Jack Beeton||Van Amersfoort Racing||+27.408s|
|18||Enzo Deligny||AKM Motorsport||+28.844s|
|19||Ruiqi Liu||US Racing||+28.863s|
|20||Matheus Ferreira||Van Amersfoort Racing||+30.285s|
|21||Alvise Rodella||BVM Racing||+37.402s|
|22||Matteo Quintarelli||R-ace GP||+38.213s|
|23||Tina Hausmann||AKM Motorsport||+39.151s|
|24||Kim Hwarang||Jenzer Motorsport||+42.896s|
|25||Ethan Ischer||Jenzer Motorsport||+43.799s|
|26||Viktoria Blokhina||PHM Racing||+44.163s|
|27||Kabir Anurag||R-ace GP||+45.330s|
|28||Diego de la Torre||AKM Motorspot||+49.905s|
|29||Ismail Akhmed||Van Amersfoort Racing||+53.275s|
|30||Guido Luchetti||Airflow Racing||+57.706s|
|31||Gabriel Holguin||Maffi Racing||+1m25.634s|
|33||Griffin Peebles||Jenzer Motorsport||+1 lap|
|34||Zachary David||US Racing||+3 laps|
|Ret||Akshay Bohra||US Racing|
|Ret||Frederik Lund||AKM Motorsport|
|Ret||Raphael Narac||R-ace GP|
|Fastest lap: Sztuka, 2m05.447s