Home Formula 4Australian F4 The closest ever finishes in FIA Formula 4

The closest ever finishes in FIA Formula 4

by Ida Wood

Photo: F4 UAE

FIA Formula 4’s Gen2 era has already matched Gen1 for close finishes in just the six weeks it has been around, but where does Abu Dhabi’s three-way photo finish rank among the closest of all time?

Since Formula 4 truly became… formalised as a formula in 2014, it has become the basis of championships across the globe and cars from Crawford, Mygale and Tatuus have ended up being used in other open series too. There have been plans for secondary championships in many countries too, and it’s a route Britain, Italy and the United States are now going down as the halo-shod Gen2 era beckons (for some) for their FIA-certified national championships.

Despite races having only taken place in the last eight years, there’s a surprising amount of race results that haven’t been archived on the internet and that primarily comes from F4 Western. Also not included in the below list is the Koiranen-run Winter Junior Challenge, a two-round tournament held in Portugal and Spain in 2015, and a few rounds in Chinese F4.

But the records do extend to the likes of the Austrian F4 Cup, NACAM F4’s 2021 season that did not award points and the increasingly popular Formula Academy Finland. Here are the 10 closest F4 race results:

F4 South East Asia BURIRAM R3 0.071s
January 12, 2018

Kane Shepherd made the strongest start and led the field on lap one, with Nazim Azman providing chase along with Ugo de Wilde. As in the previous two races that weekend, the battle for victory went down to the final lap and it concluded in the most exciting way possible as the lead three went through the last corner of the race three-wide.

De Wilde came out ahead of Azman by 0.071 seconds, with Shepherd just 0.145s behind in third. Daniel Cao was five seconds back in fourth in a rare absence from the podium for the otherwise dominant champion.

F4 South East Asia SEPANG R16 0.058s
January 21, 2017

Photo: F4 SEA

Possibly a crucial win in Presley Martono’s F4 South East Asia title run, this was the fourth race of the six-race final round at Sepang and involved the Indonesian beating Isyraf Danish – technically his team-mate in the Meritus GP-run series – in a photo finish after the faster Danish chased him down over the 10-lap race.

Martono won the next race too, then came fifth in the finale to beat Faine Kahia to the title by two points on dropped scores.

F4 South East Asia SEPANG R11 0.056s
February 4, 2018

Photo: F4 SEA

Just over a year later, Sepang was host to another super close finish as de Wilde beat current Toyota junior Hibiki Taira in a photo finish (pictured above).

The fastest laps from the previous race set the grid, and de Wilde got to start from the front as he set the fastest lap by 0.027s ahead of Taira. They remained that close through the nine-lap encounter, finishing 0.056s apart.

United States F4 SEBRING R1 0.042s
September 26, 2020

After delays due to standing water, it was Jose Blanco-Chock who set pole position for this race, but it wasn’t to be for the Crosslink/Kiwi Motorsport driver as he was forced to start from the back of the grid due to a steering wheel issue.

The race was soon under a full course yellow, and subsequently a red flag, after Dylan Tavella lost control and – when sliding off track – collected Josh Sarchet.

When it resumed, Spike Kohlbecker led ahead of Erik Evans, debutant Race Liberante and Hunter Yeany. Later Nico Christodoulou spun and required assistance, resulting in another FCY.

At this restart Yeany caught the leaders napping and took over up front. Blanco-Chock had charged through the field to then get into second behind him, and ended up drawing alongside Yeany at the finish but not by enough to get past.

United States F4 BARBER R3 0.041s
August 2, 2020

The weekend began with wet weather cancelling qualifying, then Yeany winning race one in a drag race against Sam Paley by 0.101s. Blanco-Chock crashed out of that one but rebounded to better Paley by 0.377s in race two, and another drag race settled the action in race three.

Kohlbecker started from pole, and had to fend off Yeany for the duration – in between two red flag interruptions and race extensions – for a hard-earned win. After many side-by-side moments, the win was decided by the series’ smallest ever gap.

Italian F4 MONZA R1 0.023s
May 30, 2015

Guan Yu Zhou

Photo: ACI Sport

On his 16th birthday, future Alfa Romeo Racing Formula 1 driver Guanyu Zhou kicked off a rivalry with Robert Shwartzman that would go all the way to Formula 2 and then their fight for an F1 seat.

It was round two of the Italian F4 season at Monza, and Zhou was driving for Prema while Shwartzman was alongside Lando Norris at Mucke Motorsport. The Mucke pair locked out the front row, with Shwartzman leading away from pole while Norris was eliminated in a lap two crash. That led to a safety car period, and after that Zhou was able to overtake Shwartzman for the lead.

The Russian tried coming back at him, but couldn’t get close enough until the final lap when he drew alongside at the finish line and finished 0.023s behind. Zhou would also finish just ahead in the championship, but Shwartzman comfortably got the better of him when they were Prema team-mates in FIA European Formula 3 in 2018 and in the past two years in F2.

F4 North European Zone ZANDVOORT R2 0.014s
May 15, 2016

Jarno Opmeer

Photo: SMP F4 Championship

From third on the grid at Zandvoort, Jarno Opmeer (now an Esports star) gained a place off the start when Richard Verschoor stalled from the front row, and he then took the lead away from race one winner Tuomas Tujula on lap two.

Juho Valtanen followed him past Tujula a lap later and quickly slashed the gap to Opmeer. A very close battle ensued, settled by 0.014s while Tujula was half a second back in third. Verschoor fought back to seventh after falling to 17th.

Australian F4 PHILIP ISLAND R3 0.006s
June 8, 2019

Current Euroformula star Christian Mansell made his series debut this weekend, boosting the grid to eight cars, and making a single-seater return was Harry Hayek.

The focus was on points leader Luis Leeds and Ryan Suhle, with the latter nursing an ankle injury. He was still able to beat Leeds to victory in race three, by the super slim margin of 0.0059s, while Antonio Astuti finished 0.3956s back in third place.

F4 United Arab Emirates YAS MARINA R1 0.003s
January 21, 2022

MP Motorsport’s Tasanapol Inthraphuvasak started on pole for the season opener and therefore the second ever race to use Tatuus’s Gen2 F4 car after it was introduced in a support race to the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but stalled on the grid – based at Yas Marina Circuit’s support pitlane rather than the grand prix pit straight – and dropped all the way to the back.

Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema’s Aiden Neate inherited the lead ahead of fellow Prema drivers Andrea Kimi Antonelli and James Wharton, and the grid navigated the first two sectors before a divebomb move by Xcel Motorsport’s Jamie Day at turn six led to a crash. MP’s Suleiman Zanfari avoided the lunging car but then cut across the corner and spun himself around the front of AKM Motorsport’s Brando Baoder.

The race was put behind the safety car until the start of lap seven, which left time for four laps of racing. Neate and Antonelli immediately sprinted away, and after a lap Mercedes-AMG F1 junior Antonelli was lining up for the lead.

He tried at the turn six chicane but Neate defended hard and Antonelli had to take to the runoff. When he rejoined the track he allowed Neate back through just before the long turn nine left-hander that technically was the first corner of the lap.

Antonelli picked the outside line and got alongside all the way around the corner but Neate held on and Wharton and Hitech GP’s Alex Dunne were now closing in as they headed on to the final lap.

The outside of turn six was tried again by Antonelli, and he was able to keep it on track but had to compromise his entry to turn seven which allowed Neate and Wharton to draw alongside as they met the chequered flag down the next straight.

Antonelli won by 0.003 seconds ahead of Neate, with Wharton 0.108s behind in third.

F4 North European Zone MOSCOW RACEWAY R3 0.003s
August 12, 2018

There was already a sign things were going to get close when in Q1 the battle for pole between KIC Motorsport’s Konsta Lappalainen and MP’s Isac Blomqvist was decided by 0.022s.

Lappalainen duly converted pole into race one victory, but Blomqvist struck back in race two by hunting down and then pulling away from Lappalainen who lost second to Aleksandr Vartanyan on the final corner of the last lap.

In race three Lappalainen and Tuomas Haapalainen traded the lead and battled all the way to the line for victory.

Lappalainen had started on pole, but it was Haapalainen who led into the final corner at the end of the race, and looked set for victory in what was his first appearance of the season. Lappalainen thought otherwise though, and drew level with Haapalainen as they crossed the line. The win went to Lappalainen, by a scant 0.003s.