Home Formula 4Italian F4 Sztuka controls first Italian F4 race at Paul Ricard after perfect start

Sztuka controls first Italian F4 race at Paul Ricard after perfect start

by Roger Gascoigne

Photo: ACI Sport

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)
Pos Driver Team Time
1 Kacper Sztuka US Racing 33m40.943s
2 Ugo Ugochukwu Prema +0.868s
3 James Wharton Prema +4.320s
4 Tuukka Taponen Prema +5.217s
5 James Egozi PHM Racing +9.525s
6 Ivan Domingues Van Amersfoort Racing +10.236s
7 Brando Badoer Van Amersfoort Racing +12.692s
8 Arvid Linfblad Prema +13.313s
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
14 Aurelia Nobels Prema +23.336s
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
32 Niko Lacorte Prema +1m34.346s
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

Championship standings
Lindblad 225.5   2 Ugochukwu 159   3 Wharton 138.5   4 Sztuka 133   5 Badoer 110   6 David 104   7 Taponen 90   8 Lacorte 71   9 Bohra 64   10 Spina 53