Home Formula 4Italian F4 Sztuka super in thrilling Italian F4 practice sessions at Paul Ricard

Sztuka super in thrilling Italian F4 practice sessions at Paul Ricard

by Ida Wood

Photo: ACI Sport

US Racing’s Kacper Sztuka led the way in Italian Formula 4 practice at Paul Ricard.

The F4 drivers were on track early on Friday morning, and it was a busy 40-minute session with 36 cars on track. Absent for most of the session was Van Amersfoort Racing’s Brando Badoer.

He had a new team-mate in Pablo Sarrazin, who has already driven for VAR in the new Euro 4 series. Other additions to the grid include Griffin Peebles at Jenzer Motorsport, Singaporean shifter karter Kabir Anurag, who is debuting with R-ace GP after doing six tests with them, and Gabriel Holguin at Maffi Racing. Holguin has previously been entered into a F4 series in the USA.

R-ace’s Raphael Narac was the early pacesetter in FP1 with a 2m08.167s, but did not stay on top for long as laptimes improved. US Racing’s Akhay Bohra set a 2m07.801s, then team-mate Zachary David bettered that by 0.022 seconds before Prema’s James Wharton knocked 0.636s off the benchmark pace.

David responded by going 0.093s faster than him, but then Wharton went fastest by 0.683s with the first sub-2m07s lap.

US’s Kacper Sztuka reduced Wharton’s advantage to 0.387s, then knocked him off top spot by 0.057s. A third successive improvement, in the 2m05s, put him 0.433s clear while Prema duo Arvid Lindblad and Niko Lacorte, as well as David, got into the 2m06s.

Following that, most drivers were pit-bound to change tyres before their second runs. There were fewer improvements once everyone returned to track, although Wharton got within 0.088s of Sztuka and Prema’s Ugo Ugochukwu went third fastest at the very end. In total 13 drivers lapped sub-2m07s.

Bohra was first to the top in FP2 in the afternoon, setting a 2m08.510s. After almost eight minutes he was toppled, with AKM Motorsport’s Frederik Lund lapping in 2m07.922s.

Gianmarco Pradel (US) and Tina Hausmann (AKM) also beat Bohra, and a minute later he was eighth as Lacorte lowered the pace to 2m07.613s to lead AKM’s Enzo Deligny.

Prema’s Rashid Al Dhaheri set a 2m07.587s soon after, and PHM Racing’s James Egozi went third fastest.

Bohra reclaimed first with a 2m07.460s, and Wharton was 0.035s slower to slot into second. But 40s later they were fifth and sixth, as Badoer became first in the session to lap in the 2m06s. Prema’s Tuukka Taponen went second fastest, and Pradel and Egozi were the only others within half a second of Badoer’s pace.

But even Badoer could not stay ahead for long, as half a minute later Sztuka – on his second flying lap – set a 2m07.837s to go fastest by 0.048s.

Badoer responded with a 2m06.435s, and Wharton also bettered Sztuka who was unable to improve on his next lap but returned to first place the lap after with a 2m06.179s. Badoer got within 0.121s of it, then Sztuka improved again before everyone headed to the pits to change tyres.

Sztuka set FP2’s first sub-2m06s lap with nine minutes remaining, and 90s later Wharton set a 2m05.363s. Badoer got within 0.022s of it, and Sztuka within 0.029s during a flurry of continual improvements in the top 12, but Wharton’s lap appeared unbeatable until Sztuka set a 2m05.251s with half a minute to go.

Taponen was fourth fastest, 0.285s behind and 0.002s ahead of Ugochukwu.

Free practice results
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 Kacper Sztuka US Racing 2m05.251s 28
2 James Wharton Prema 2m05.363s +0.112s 28
3 Brando Badoer Van Amersfoort Racing 2m05.385s +0.134s 25
4 Tuukka Taponen Prema 2m05.536s +0.285s 27
5 Ugo Ugochukwu Prema 2m05.538s +0.287s 28
6 Rashid Al Dhaheri Prema 2m05.755s +0.504s 30
7 Zachary David US Racing 2m05.818s +0.567s 28
8 Akshay Bohra US Racing 2m05.928s +0.677s 31
9 James Egozi PHM Racing 2m05.931s +0.680s 29
10 Ivan Domingues Van Amersfoort Racing 2m06.080s +0.829s 31
11 Pablo Sarrazin Van Amersfoort Racing 2m06.082s +0.831s 28
12 Niko Lacorte Prema 2m06.133s +0.882s 26
13 Gianmarco Pradel US Racing 2m06.202s +0.951s 31
14 Alfio Spina BVM Racing 2m06.232s +0.981s 31
15 Arvid Lindblad Prema 2m06.238s +0.987s 28
16 Valentin Kluss PHM Racing 2m06.256s +1.005s 31
17 Nandhavud Bhirombhakdi PHM Racing 2m06.285s +1.034s 29
18 Jack Beeton Van Amersfoort Racing 2m06.310s +1.059s 31
19 Tina Hausmann AKM Motorsport 2m06.360s +1.109s 35
20 Ruiqi Liu US Racing 2m06.433s +1.182s 33
21 Raphael Narac R-ace GP 2m06.454s +1.203s 27
22 Ariel Elkin Jenzer Motorsport 2m06.473s +1.222s 29
23 Enzo Deligny AKM Motorsport 2m06.543s +1.292s 31
24 Ethan Ischer Jenzer Motorsport 2m06.601s +1.350s 29
25 Griffin Peebles Jenzer Motorsport 2m06.614s +1.363s 30
26 Aurelia Nobels Prema 2m06.631s +1.380s 28
27 Frederik Lund AKM Motorsport 2m06.724s +1.473s 31
28 Alvise Rodella BVM Racing 2m06.774s +1.523s 30
29 Matheus Ferreira Van Amersfoort Racing 2m06.842s +1.591s 34
30 Viktoria Blokhina PHM Racing 2m06.931s +1.680s 29
31 Matteo Quintarelli R-ace GP 2m07.009s +1.758s 24
32 Kabir Anurag R-ace GP 2m07.033s +1.782s 28
33 Kim Hwarang Jenzer Motorsport 2m07.141s +1.890s 30
34 Diego de la Torre AKM Motorsport 2m07.807s +2.556s 30
35 Ismail Akhmed Van Amersfoort Racing 2m07.947s +2.696s 31
36 Guido Luchetti Airflow Racing 2m08.880s +3.629s 32
37 Gabriel Holguin Maffi Racing 2m11.162s +5.911s 28