2017 British F4 Championship – Caroline and Piastri Fight it Out

Image by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Title Rivals Caroline and Piastri Share the Spoils

Just hours after securing a double pole position in qualifying, TRS Arden’s Oscar Piastri expertly converted pole to victory in the first race of the day. Championship leader Caroline responded with his 10th win of the campaign to lead home a Carlin one-two with Logan Sargeant second, in the rescheduled Round 12 that was unable to take place at Oulton Park earlier in the season. Double R Racing’s Karl Massaad retuned to the podium for the first time since May, while Fortec Motorsports’ Hampus Ericsson and Oliver York took the spoils in the Ford F4 Challenge Cup. It was also a landmark day for GW Motorsport who claimed their first top 10 finish in British F4 with Sam Smelt, and immediately followed it up with an eighth place finish for Jacky Liu in the second race.

 

Round 19: Oscar Piastri Wins From Pole

TRS Arden’s Oscar Piastri made it win number four of the season in Round 19 of the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost at Knockhill from a hard-charging Jamie Caroline and team-mate Ayrton Simmons. The Aussie managed to reduce the gap to Caroline in the championship to 39.5 points thanks to another excellent drive under pressure. At first from Alex Quinn and then from Caroline.

Piastri made a perfect getaway from pole with fellow front row starter Alex Quinn in hot pursuit. Behind them fifth place man on the grid Caroline was determined to make amends for a qualifying that didn’t go his way, dispatching with Simmons on the exit of Butcher’s on the opening lap after the TRS Arden racer dipped a wheel on the grass. Moments later Caroline had team-mate Logan Sargeant in his sights, passing him on the run up to Hislop’s and into Taylor’s Hairpin with Simmons following suit. The Pirtek RacIng-backed rising star then homed in on Piastri and Quinn, with Ayrton Simmons in tow.

On lap eight Caroline performed a bold lunge down the inside of Quinn at Taylor’s Hairpin to snatch second place, the move taking Quinn by surprise and opening the door for Simmons to overtake as well. Seconds later at the same corner Oliver York pulled off a move on Fortec Motorsports team-mate Johnathan Hoggard. The two providing spectators with an entertaining intra-team battle. Further back in the field Lucas Alecco Roy (Carlin) and Jamie Sharp (Sharp Motorsport) were locked in a thrilling duel, only for it to end in tears on lap nine which saw the Safety Car deployed and the race neutralised. A mistake at Taylor’s Hairpin on the Safety Car restart scuppered Caroline’s chances for the win, despite setting fastest lap in the closing stages, and gave Piastri sufficient breathing room to take the chequered flag by a margin of 0.321s. The latter bringing home the win in stylish fashion having had to manage a wounded car in the final two laps after clattering a kerb.

“I had to work really hard for that win,” said Piastri. “Alex was catching me a little bit in the early stages and then I saw Jamie put a move on him. I had a bit of a gap, but the safety car destroyed all that. I got a really good restart. On the second-last lap I clipped the sausage kerb at the chicane and something broke at the rear of the car. It meant the last couple of laps were pretty interesting and I just hoped the car wouldn’t let me down. Thankfully it didn’t! Jamie managed to catch up quite a bit in those last couple of laps. The lap before I hit the kerb I did my best lap which was only a tenth off of what I did in qualifying so my pace was really good. Unfortunately Jamie starts in front of me for the next race, but he did make some mistakes so I think we can take the fight to him.”

“If I hadn’t made that mistake at the hairpin at the Safety Car restart, as well as a few more after that I could have possibly taken to the win, but that’s the way it goes sometimes,” said Caroline. “We were unlucky in qualifying and our pace in that race showed where we should have been. I start on pole for the second race so hopefully I can take my number of wins this season into double digits. The move I pulled on Quinn was pretty bold, but I knew I had to go for it and send the car up the inside. I think it caught Alex by surprise a little and then Ayrton got through behind me.”

“It was a really tricky race,” commented Simmons. “At the start I got on the grass a bit which meant I lost a position to Jamie. The conditions were so difficult. One lap it was spitting with rain and the next lap it wasn’t. I tried to drive calmly and stay steady. When I saw Jamie make the lunge on Alex, I knew it was my opportunity. I got past Alex and nearly overtook Jamie too. At the Safety Car restart Jamie locked up into the hairpin, but I couldn’t pass him because we hadn’t crossed the line yet. In the second half of the race we were really strong and hopefully we can get some more silverware this afternoon.”

The Safety Car restart provided Ericsson with the chance to climb up to seventh, passing Hoggard. A seventh place finish was enough to see Ericsson take the Ford F4 Challenge Cup win with Olli Caldwell and Harry Webb completing the podium having finished ninth and 11th respectively. Seventh place also brought with it the added bonus of pole position for the reverse grid race tomorrow which will see a front row lock out for Fortec Motorsports with Oliver York alongside Ericsson.

Linus Lundqvist was a big mover on the opening lap, climbing two places to pass Hoggard and Sargeant. However, the Double R racer’s hard work was undone by an off track excursion on lap six demoting him from fifth to ninth. The Swede doing well to salvage a position and move up to eighth by the end of the race. Meanwhile Sam Smelt brought home his maiden point score in the series in only his fourth race after holding on brilliantly to 10th place for GW Motorsport.

 

Round 12 (Oulton Park Replacement Race): Perfect 10 for Caroline

Jamie Caroline extended his advantage at the top of the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost standings by winning the rescheduled Round 12 race from Oulton Park at Knockhill. He was followed home by team-mate Logan Sargeant who ensured Carlin recorded their second one-two finish of the campaign. A lightning getaway from pole saw the Pirtek Racing-backed rising star unchallenged into turn one and proceed to execute a textbook race on the way to his 10th Ford EcoBoost-powered victory of 2017. With clear air in front of him the 18-year-old unleashed his prodigious pace around the 1.27-mile Fife track, extending his margin over the field at a formidable rate. Not even a Safety Car period for the stricken car of team-mate Patrick Pasma, which wiped out Caroline’s 9.3 second lead on lap 11, could spoil the championship leader’s party. He mastered the restart and had enough in hand to keep Sargeant at bay, recording the fastest lap of the race on the very last lap.

“We were 9.3 seconds clear before the Safety Car,” said Caroline. “It’s a shame it came out in a way because if it hadn’t it would have made the win even easier. I wanted to get to the 10 second mark to tie in with my 10th victory this season. “It’s great to get this win though and to get fastest lap too. I got another lightning start. I do a lot of work on reactions in my warm-up and I think that helps a lot. I wasn’t too worried when the field closed up because of the Safety Car. I knew I was quicker and consistent so I was confident I could comfortably bring the win home.”

From third on the grid Sargeant put second place man Oscar Piastri under immense pressure from the outset, pulling off an intelligent move on the way to the chicane several laps into the race. Not for the first time this season the F4 UAE graduates provided a thrilling squabble, although Piastri dropped down the order on lap eight due to a technical gremlin.

“I got off the line well and then I was fighting with Piastri for the first couple of laps,” explained Sargeant. “I managed to get around him and then I tried to chase down Jamie, but he had already built a big gap while we were fighting. The Safety Car offered me a bit of hope for the win. I got a good restart, but Jamie was just a little bit quicker. He’s my team-mate so I’ll take a look at the data tonight and see what he’s doing to help me go quicker tomorrow. I got up the inside of Piastri heading towards the chicane and that basically put him in a positon where he had to back off because we weren’t going to both make the corner. It was a smart move from me and important for Carlin as it secured us a one-two finish.”

Piastri’s problems promoted Double R Racing’s Karl Massaad to the podium, who had already profited from his team-mate Linus Lundqvist’s demise earlier in the race. It was the first time Massaad had been on the podium since the Thruxton meeting in May. The Lebanese karting champion kept his cool in tricky conditions to return to the rostrum.

“I’m really happy to be back on the podium,” commented Massaad. “Snetterton wasn’t a great weekend for me so it’s nice to bounce back with a podium place. To be honest this weekend wasn’t looking too good, especially after qualifying when I pushed a little too hard and went off. I stayed calm out there and tried not to do any mistakes while others did around me. That’s how I made my way up the order, but importantly I had the pace to stay third. To be on the podium is fantastic, but I want to be on the top step and I’m working so hard to achieve that.”

As was the case in the earlier race Lundqvist was aggressive from the start and soon found himself tucked up underneath the rear wing of Quinn. He jinked from left to right repeatedly to try to force the Cornish ace into a mistake, but couldn’t find a way through. Lundqvist wouldn’t relent however, and pulled off a sublime move around the outside of Quinn at Taylor’s Hairpin. However, his race came undone when going off track at turn one after running side by side with Piastri. The Swede regrouped and embarked on a comeback through the field, but was later forced to retire due to overheating as a result of the off track excursion. Quinn didn’t fare much better, forced to retire on lap five due to a mechanical problem.

Just missing out on a podium spot was Fortec Motorsports’ Oliver York who had a storming race to make his way up the order from 10th on the grid. It also saw him take his eighth and final win in the Ford F4 Challenge Cup. The talented teenager was allowed to fight for Class honours courtesy of this being the Round 12 race which should have taken place earlier in the year at Oulton Park when York was eligible to compete in the Class. The win means he was able to extend his advantage at the top of the standings by seven points.

Harry Webb looked a contender for fourth and the Challenge Cup win only for front wing damage to hinder his prospects. The Richardson Racing driver defended valiantly in the closing stages despite the damage and still salvaged a seventh place finish; behind Ayrton Simmons in fifth who made up several places from eighth on the grid and Piastri in sixth. Jacky Liu rounded off a landmark day for GW Motorsport. Just hours after the team’s first top 10 finish, Liu followed it up with an eighth place finish to score his first points of the campaign.

Said an ecstatic GW Motorsport team boss Gary Ward: “I’m really happy with both our drivers today. Both of them qualified well. Sam coming into the team has made Jacky up his game and they are working so well together. To get two top 10 finishes today and these points means a lot and is so deserved following all the hard work.”

Jamie Sharp was back in the points for Sharp Motorsport and despite venturing off track Lucas Alecco Roy doggedly persevered to bring home 10th and take the final point for Carlin.

Round 20 of the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost is scheduled for 1015 tomorrow, with Round 21 set to start at 1540 and to be televised live on ITV4.

 

Provisional results Round 19 Knockhill 12 August 2017

1 Oscar PIASTRI / AUS / Arden 20m 29.443s / 77.90mph, 21 laps / 26.60 miles

2 Jamie CAROLINE / GBR / Carlin +0.321s

3 Ayrton SIMMONS / GBR / Arden +2.440s

4 Alex QUINN / GBR / Arden +4.221s

5 Logan SARGEANT / USA / Carlin +5.046s

6 Oliver YORK / GBR / Fortec +6.779s

7 Hampus ERICSSON / SWE / Fortec +9.830s

8 Linus LUNDQVIST / SWE / Double R +9.909s

9 Olli Caldwell / GBR / Arden +11.314s

10 Sam SMELT / GBR / GW +12.941s etc.

Fastest lap: Jamie Caroline 49.970s / 91.27mph

Ford F4 Challenge Cup: 1 Ericsson; 2 Caldwell; 3 Webb; 3 Allen

 

Provisional results Round 12 Oulton Park 12 August 2017 * Race run at Knockhill, 22 laps / 27.87 miles

1 Jamie CAROLINE / GBR / Carlin 20m 38.924s / 80.99mph

2 Logan SARGEANT / USA / Carlin +1.893s

3 Karl MASSAAD / LEB / Double R +6.458s

4 Oliver YORK / GBR / Fortec +7.266s

5 Ayrton SIMMONS / GBR / Arden +8.132s

6 Oscar PIASTRI / AUS / Arden +12.921s

7 Harry WEBB / GBR / Richardson +17.725s

8 Jacky LIU / CHN / GW +18.244s

9 Jamie SHARP / GBR / Sharp +18.733s

10 Lucas Alecco ROY / GER / Carlin +1 lap etc.

Fastest lap: Jamie Caroline 49.905s / 91.39mph

Ford F4 Challenge Cup: 1 York; 2 Webb

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