Home Formula 4Italian F4 Ugochukwu wins after frantic lead battles in Italian F4 at Monza

Ugochukwu wins after frantic lead battles in Italian F4 at Monza

by Ida Wood

Photo: ACI Sport

Prema’s Ugo Ugochukwu won the opening Italian Formula 4 race at Monza after many laps of on-the-edge battling at the front of the field.

Van Amersfoort Racing’s Brando Badoer started on pole, with Prema’s Arvid Lindblad and Tuukka Taponen, VAR’s Ivan Domingues, Prema’s James Wharton, US Racing’s Kacper Sztuka and Ugochukwu filling the top seven on the grid.

Badoer defended the inside into turn one on the opening lap, but Lindblad got ahead around the outside of the della Roggia chicane. Domingues got a black-and-white flag at the end of the lap after going off at Ascari and rejoining in a dangerous manner.

Ugochukwu got up to fifth, and battled past Sztuka for fourth. Sztuka got back past, and Wharton too, but then at turn one on lap three he moved back past poth. James Egozi got a warning flag, while Sztuka stayed ahead of Wharton by cutting the second chicane. Meanwhile Badoer went late on the brakes into the final corner to get back ahead of Lindblad.

Lindblad moved back past down the pit straight, but Badoer braked lead again to lead into turn one. They went side-by-side through Curva Grande and Lindblad led once more, while Ugochukwu went off and came under pressure from Sztuka.

Those two battles continued through to lap six, where Sztuka used the outside at Curva Grande and inside at della Roggia to pass Ugochukwu. Lindblad did set the fastest lap, but Badoer did the same a lap later and Lindblad then got a warning for “not repecting the racing line” as he tried to stay ahead.

On lap nine, Lindblad almost pushed Badoer off around Curva Grande, and it allowed Taponen to get back on their tails. Ugochukwu made it a four-car lead fight by setting fastest lap, and on lap 11 Badoer managed to get on the inside of Lindblad through Curva Grande to then be on the outside for della Roggia. He took the lead but cut the chicane, and moved back behind Lindblad while Sztuka tried passing Ugochukwu after Taponen fell behind both in a lap.

Taponen had fallen into the clutches of team-mate Niko Lacorte when the safety car was called on lap 12 due to Guido Luchetti beaching his car in the gravel, and racing resumed on lap 14.

Lindblad accelerated early on the restart, leaving Badoer under attack from Ugochukwu who passed at turn one. Rashid Al Dhaheri crashed entering the final corner, but his car went deep enough into the run-off that the safety car was not required.

Ugochukwu became the eighth driver to get a warning from the stewards for his aggresive move on Lindblad for the lead at the start of the penultimate lap. Lindblad reclaimed the lead at della Roggia but went off, so returned to second place.

Going into turn one for the final time it was a three-car fight. Lindblad briefly got his nose ahead but Badoer went deep on the brakes, cut the chicane. It allowed Lindblad to get alongside Ugochukwu through Curva Frande and della Roggia, where he passed by going off again, and returned to second place before locking up at Ascari as he thought about passing again.

Yellow flags at the final corner meant the win was Ugochukwu’s ahead of Lindblad, as Badoer held off Lacorte, Taponen and Sztuka for third.

Race result (16 laps)
Pos Driver Team Time
1 Ugo Ugochukwu Prema 32m34.224s
2 Arvid Lindblad Prema +0.370s
3 Brando Badoer Van Amersfoort Racing +0.712s
4 Niko Lacorte Prema +1.475s
5 Tuukka Taponen Prema +1.842s
6 Kacper Sztuka US Racing +2.124s
7 Ivan Domingues Van Amersfoot Racing +2.575s
8 Alfio Spina BVM Racing +2.922s
9 James Wharton Prema +3.330s
10 Akshay Bohra US Racing +4.841s
11 James Egozi PHM Racing +4.909s
12 Gianmarco Pradel US Racing +5.235s
13 Matheus Ferreira Van Amersfoort Racing +5.301s
14 Nandhavud Bhirombhakdi PHM Racing +6.784s
15 Ariel Elkin Jenzer Motorsport +7.193s
16 Raphael Narac R-ace GP +7.479s
17 Ethan Ischer Jenzer Motorsport +7.558s
18 Andrea Frassineti BVM Racing +8.391s
19 Jack Beeton Van Amersfoort Racing +8.510s
20 Viktoria Blokhina PHM Racing +9.166s
21 Finn Wiebelhaus Jenzer Motorsport +9.971s
22 Tina Hausmann AKM Motorsport +11.173s
23 Aurelia Nobels Prema +11.511s
24 Diego de la Torre AKM Motorsport +12.451s
25 Ismail Akhmed Van Amersfoort Racing +13.179s
26 Zachary David US Racing +1 lap
Ret Valentin Kluss PHM Racing
Ret Ruiqi Liu US Racing
Ret Rashid Al Dhaheri Prema
Ret Guido Luchetti Airflow Racing
Ret Frederik Lund AKM Motorsport
Ret Matteo Quintarelli R-ace GP
Fastest lap: Ugochukwu, 1m52.863s

Championship standings
Lindblad 164.5   2 Ugochukwu 146   3 Wharton 97.5   4 David 96   5 Badoer 86   6 Lacorte 76   7 Sztuka 74   8 Taponen 73   9 Domingues 49   10 Bohra 44