Armstrong, Vips and Drugovich – which of these three will succeed reigning champion Joey Mawson to the title as the 2017 ADAC Formula 4 draws to a close? With only three races left, the question is more urgent than ever. Clearly, it is an issue that will be resolved by the outcome of the three races on the final weekend (22nd – 24th September) at the Hockenheimring, but which of the three main contenders will emerge triumphant is anybody’s guess. All races will be shown live on the dedicated TV sports channels, SPORT1 and SPORT1+. Alternatively, they can be viewed as live streams on www.adac.de/motorsport, www.sport1.de and www.youtube.com/adac.
The points situation in this year’s ADAC Formula 4 campaign changed after a decision made by the DMSB appeals committee on Wednesday of this week. An appeal lodged by US Racing against the exclusion of the team’s four cars for a breach of the technical regulations at the Lausitzring round earlier this season was dismissed by the DMSB, and the four US Racing drivers were subsequently disqualified from three races.
This leaves Marcus Armstrong (17, New Zealand, Prema Powerteam), his team-mate Juri Vips (17, Estonia, Prema Powerteam) and Felipe Drugovich (17, Brazil, Van Amersfoort Racing) therefore still very much in with a chance of taking the title. Going into the last three races of the season with 75 points still to be awarded, the three drivers are separated by 18.5 points, the distance between Armstrong and Vips being 1.5 points.
Marcus Armstrong moved into the championship lead after making two podium appearances at the Sachsenring. The New Zealander, who is a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy and debutant in the ADAC Formula 4, did not take all that long to get acclimatised to the German single-seater racing series. In the best-case scenario for the 17-year-old, he could find himself lifting two championship winner’s trophies, because he is currently also top of the equivalent Italian Formula 4 series. “That was a good weekend at the Sachsenring. But the lead is only minimal, which should make for a very interesting finale at the Hockenheimring.” says Armstrong.
Armstrong’s team-mate Vips was less satisfied with the outcome of the ‘dress rehearsal’ at the Sachsenring: “We were unable to achieve our usual standard, which cost us the lead in the championship.” Vips says he expects a “tough fight” at Hockenheim. The Estonian has otherwise been a model of consistency throughout the entire season. Now in his second season in the German series, he has regularly finished in the points, starting with the opening race, and he very soon established himself as one of the title favourites.
Felipe Drugovich is currently third, 18.5 points behind the leader, though he can actually claim to have had more race wins than any other driver – six in all. The 17-year-old, who drives for the Dutch outfit, Van Amersfoort Racing, has made a major step forward in 2017, having already proved his talent in his rookie season when he was still a member of the Austrian Neuhauser Racing team.
But the drivers of US Racing, the outfit managed by Gerhard Ungar and ex-Formula 1 driver Ralf Schumacher, should not be forgotten, as they are always good for victories. Fabio Scherer (18, Switzerland) and Julian Hanses (20, Germany) each put in a strong showing at the Sachsenring, while Kim-Luis Schramm (20, Germany) and reigning Best Rookie champion Nicklas Nielsen (20, Denmark) are also capable of top results.
Hanses is in any case very much looking forward to making a return to Hockenheim, where he has a score to settle: “Last year, things did not go perfectly for me there. That’s why I will be preparing very thoroughly for it this time.” Fabio Scherer goes into the season finale with his motivation having been boosted by a win and a P2 on his best race weekend so far: “I hope I can be as fast as I was during the test drives in late August. For me, Hockenheim is virtually a home fixture. There are bound to be plenty of Swiss fans on the grandstands, and I’m looking forward to seeing them there.”
Another contender for the top rung of the podium is Lirim Zendeli (17, Germany, ADAC Berlin-Brandenburg e.V.). The teenager from Bochum will be arriving in Baden-Württemberg with fond memories of the recent Nürburgring weekend on which he clocked the fastest lap, claimed pole position and took the win in the first race, following that up with P2 in the second: “Last season, we got our best results at Hockenheim. With the experience gained so far during my second season and with the intention of doing everything right in qualifying and being that bit more patient, our chances of a trophy are very good. My target is to finish in the Top Five of this championship.”
The three remaining races also promise to be interesting from the perspective of the Best Rookie and team classifications. Anything other than a coronation for Best Rookie contender Mick Wishofer (17, Austria, Lechner Racing) would be a major upset, as he has a 47.5-point lead over Charles Weerts (16, Belgium, Motopark). One competition has already been decided, namely the team championship, in which Prema Powerteam successfully defended their 2016 title, clinching it on the penultimate weekend at the Sachsenring.
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