BRDC Formula 4 2015 - Snetterton
In what was only his fourth race in the Duo BRDC Formula 4 championship, 16 year old Omar Ismail from Solihull burst onto the scene with an assured lights to flag victory in the opening race of the weekend at Snetterton, Norfolk on Saturday, July 11th. The precocious Ismail - racing under the Chris Dittmann banner – had surprised everyone in qualifying, not least the HHC duo of Will Palmer and Harri Newey who had monopolised the Friday practice sessions. In the event, it was left to Comma-sponsored Palmer to chase Ismail all the way to the line and finish second by just 1.35 secs, with Newey hot on his tail in third place.
In changeable track conditions for Sunday morning's Race 2, Isamil claimed seventh place from eighth on the grid, and fifth place after a spin in the very wet Race 3 on Sunday afternoon. The former kart racer returned to the West Midlands as the weekend's highest points scorer - 68 to Palmer's 67.
Championship leader Palmer bet the wrong way on tyre choice for Race 2, opting for wets at the start on a track which quickly handed the advantage to those on slicks. A pit stop to change rubber punished him severely with 18th place at the finish. Meanwhile, from sixteenth place on the grid, Ismail's team-mate Tom Jackson survived an early spin before forging through the field to overtake Mexico's Rodrigo Fonseca (Lanan Racing) on the final lap and win by less than a second. Fonseca's team-mate Jack Bartholemew made amends for failing to score in Race 1 by claiming the final podium position.
Palmer made no mistake later in the day when dominating a very sodden Race 3 start-to-finish from third on the grid, winning 7 seconds ahead of pole-sitter Newey, with a delighted Ciaran Heggarty third after starting in fourteenth place for Écurie Écosse/GB Racing. After finishing eighth in Race 1, Haggerty had been disappointed not to translate his pole position start in Race 2 into anything better than fourth place, but his trio of top ten finishes nevertheless earned him a valuable 57 points (fourth highest of the weekend) for the meeting, and a leg-up from eighth place to seventh in the championship table.
In the drivers' championship, Comma driver Palmer's lead over Fonseca has been extended by a further 12 points – 260 to 235 – while Jackson and Lanan's Chris Mealin (who had another relatively lean weekend after winning performances at Oulton Park and Rockingham at the start of the season) have swapped third and fourth places. 'Though still the only driver in the top six without a race win to his credit – surely it's only a matter of time! - Newey's fruitful weekend haul of 59 points elevated him from seventh to fifth in the table at the expense of Jordan Albert (Sean Walkinshaw Racing) whose Snetterton score card registered a brace of fifth places in Races 1&2. As noted, Haggerty is now seventh, with Bartholemew slipping from sixth to eighth and Michael O'Brien (Chris Dittmann Racing) changing places with SWR's Zubair Hoque in ninth and tenth positions.
Happiest team of the weekend was surely Chris Dittmann Racing, whose driver trio of Ismail, Jackson and O'Brien scooped two winner's pots and racked up 156 points between them, 12 more than HHC and 46 more than the reigning team champs, Lanan. Maybe F1 could do with this sort of shake-up!
Comma is Technical Partner to BRDC Formula 4, and in addition to sponsoring Will Palmer in the 24 race series, supplies Comma brand lubricants, coolants and maintenance chemicals to all teams competing in the championship. Visit the excellent BRDC Formula 4 website at www.formula4.com to keep up with full results, race reports, information and features about the championship.