In the first installment of the Winners and Losers series, I’ll give a weekend round-up of a recent championship event and look at the major talking points as well as the drivers who came away with their heads held high and those that have done no favours to their reputation. This week, the opening round of the F4 British Championship from Brands Hatch.
At the end of the opening weekend from Kent, it was Ayrton Simmons who left the happiest individual. The 16-year-old almost did the impossible, collecting two wins and second place throughout the weekend.
His achievements ensure he leaves the weekend as the British F4 championship leader, but coming into the event, such domination was not expected from the JHR Developments driver. So looking back, who were the winners and losers from the opening round.
Results from the weekend can be found Here
Major Talking Point
Being the first weekend, there wasn’t much drama between the drivers to speak of, so most discussion was on that of the championship itself. For the first time we got to see a race without Carlin.
Did we miss them? Honestly, No.
Carlin although a valuable team in the paddock, were not the backbone of the championship and if anything, has closed up the opposition. During Friday testing the top four all came from different teams. For the fans this creates an enticing show and at the weekend, three of the four major players picked up silverware.
The problem this raises is the lack of potential some drivers could be missing out on. With Carlin having proven their way of setting up the car put them at least a few tenths above the opposition will some of the more talented drivers be unable to extract the most out of the Mygale or will this be a way of leveling the playing field for all competitors.
Talking of competitors, only 14 were present at Brands.
While you could argue this was a net gain from last year if you account for the missing four Carlin’s, the slow decrease in entrants since 2015 will be of concern for the championship that could be at risk of losing their super licence points if entries drop below 12.
Star of the Show
Without a doubt the man of the hour has to be Simmons. While some, myself included, have pointed out his excessive experience compared to his rivals, Simmons was clearly on a path to prove he’s not only grown from last year, but can survive away from the TRS Arden crew that he’s been connected with the past two seasons.
Simmons made the right call in qualifying, switching to dry tyres at the right time and taking first blood against Hauger and Jewiss, while the pair did challenge exceptionally in race three, Simmons proved his ability to defend even in high pressure scenarios. Prior to that in race two, he showed the paddock he wasn’t just their to win from the front, overtaking both F4 compatriots on his way to net second place.
He leaves Brands with a 19 point lead.
Pre-season testing had seen some development from certain drivers, but by the time Friday afternoon was concluded it seemed pretty clear who the front-runners for the year would be and Tonteri wasn’t one of them.
The Finn appeared to flip a switch Saturday morning though. Qualifying saw him out quickly and never spent much time away from the top, qualifying fourth. A wet weather blip perhaps? Apparently not, with the Finn remaining in contention all weekend, picking up a podium in the final race having been denied the race lead by Hauger into the first corner.
Tonteri left Brands fourth overall, in front of many pre-season favourites.
A Meeting to Forget
I was debating whether Ericsson or Hoggard had had a comparatively worse weekend until it occurred to me the whole Fortec team appear to have underperformed. Hoggard had topped Friday testing, so sixth in qualifying left rivals waiting for a spur through the order. This never happened and his race two jump-start was followed by a last place finish on Sunday.
Ericsson, the Challenge Cup champion, left the weekend with nine points, most of which came on Sunday when his rivals spun on track. As for Allen, he ended the weekend tangled up with Alvarez on the back straight.
Fortec were the only of the major teams to leave with no silverware and their combined total was less than the top three drivers had each. Whether it was a poor weekend for the drivers or a core failure in the team, Fortec have a lot of catching up to do before Thruxton.
List is determined by the current championship order and scores will be given according to how well they performed based on past experience, reputation and (as of next round) championship position.
Ayrton Simmons: 9/10
Seb Priaulx: 8/10
Kiern Jewiss: 7/10
Paavo Tonteri: 9.5/10
Dennis Hauger: 4.5/10
Jack Doohan: 8/10
Johnathan Hoggard: 2/10
Patrik Pasma: 4/10
Josh Skelton: 6/10
Hampus Ericsson: 3/10
Lucca Allen: 5/10
Manuel Sulaiman: 4/10
Jamie Sharp: 3/10
Sebastian Alvarez: 2.5/10
Do you think a particular driver that we haven’t mentioned stood out at the weekend, leave us a comment.