TOWCESTER, U.K. - Twelve months ago, the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost arrived at Silverstone with Jamie Caroline already having one hand firmly on the championship crown.
This time around however, the title fight remains wide open, with the Northamptonshire circuit set to play a pivotal role in deciding who emerges from the 2018 season on top of the pile.
Having led the way since Oulton Park back in June, Kiern Jewiss remains the man to beat but the Double R Racing driver certainly can’t afford to relax at the top of the standings having seen his advantage cut last time out at Knockhill.
In what is proving to be a real see-saw battle at the front, Jewiss had headed to Scotland with an extended gap of 45 points over closest rival Ayrton Simmons (JHR Developments), but had to settle for a best finish of fourth place – only the second event this season where he has failed to take to the podium at least once.
By contrast, Simmons picked up his first win since Oulton Park, and a further podium finish, to close the gap between the pair down to 31 points and heads to Silverstone having now scored more points than any other driver in British F4 history.
With 25 points for a win, and six races still to run, it remains wide open at the front – and that’s without taking into account those drivers still pushing hard to chase down the top two.
That chasing pack is headed by Dennis Hauger (Arden) who recovered well from the five place grid penalty he carried to Knockhill to come away from the weekend with three solid points finishes – and a pair of rookie wins.
Those two rookie successes allowed the Norwegian driver to reclaim top spot in the Rookie Cup, which is shaping up to be even closer than the fight for overall honours.
Hauger’s fellow Red Bull Junior racer Jack Doohan had taken the lead in the rookie standings ahead of the Knockhill meeting but an on-track clash early in race two in Scotland would cost him valuable points as he slipped to second spot, and also slipped slightly further behind his team-mate in the overall standings.
The two rookies might be embroiled in their own inter-team battle, but there’s another Arden driver breathing down their neck in the overall standings – and one who will be wondering what might have been in terms of the championship title...
A hat-trick of podium finishes in Scotland last month saw Patrik Pasma continue his impressive form since the summer break and he has now taken to the podium five times in the last six races – and finished fourth in the other.
The Finn remains mathematically in contention for the title but would need those ahead to run into major problems from 114 points back, with his focus simply on trying to maximise his results on track to climb as high as possible in the standings.
Pasma has already laid down a marker as well, having topped the times during testing at Silverstone last week where he was the only driver to break the 57s marker.
It’s a similar story when it comes to Fortec’s Johnathan Hoggard, who picked up pole position and a double win at Knockhill to make it five wins for the season.
Hoggard’s impressive run is likely to have come too late to allow him to challenge for the title, but – like Pasma – he could have a major role to play in the championship fight if he can maintain his strong run of form.
Another tough weekend for Paavo Tonteri (Double R) at Knockhill saw him slip outside the top six in the standings and he is now only five points clear of Seb Priaulx (Arden), who battled visibility issues last time out to pick up his sixth podium finish of the campaign.
Whilst Tonteri will be making his Silverstone debut, Priaulx has fond memories of the circuit having taken his maiden victory in car competition two years ago whilst racing in the Ginetta Junior Championship.
JHR pairing Josh Skelton and Manuel Sulaiman round out the top ten in the championship standings, with Sulaiman closing the gap to his team-mate having taken his third top six finish of the season in Scotland.
Sebastian Alvarez (Double R) went close to matching his best result in the series last time out with a seventh place finish at Knockhill that allowed him to stay five points clear ofJamie Sharp (Sharp Motorsport) in the standings; the latter having moved ahead of the absent Luca Allen during the eighth meeting of the year.
Allen is set to return this weekend in his Fortec Motorsport-run car whilst Christian Lesterwill become the 69th driver to race in British F4 when he makes his series debut with RossoVerde/Scorpio Racing.
Lester, the son of former British GT regular Hector, has taken part in a number of official test sessions alongside the British F4 field over the course of the year and will now contest the final two meetings of the season ahead of a possible full campaign in the series in 2019.