The BRDC Formula 4 Championship returns to the scene of its first ever round this weekend (17/18 August), as the most competitive single seater championship in the UK heads to the renowned Silverstone Grand Prix circuit, home of the British Grand Prix.
The last time F4 visited Silverstone was an historic occasion, as the championship burst into life with three exceptional races, and immediately stamped its authority as the series to be in for aspiring single seater stars of the future. Matt Bell became the first driver to take a win in the new category, with Jack Barlow and Jake Dalton also taking the spoils. All three are playing their part in the championship race, but it’s Jake Hughes who heads to Northamptonshire as championship leader.
The 19-year old karting graduate, who competes for Lanan Racing, sits 16 points clear of nearest rival Dalton following an exemplary weekend last time out on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit, which saw him take two fourth places and a win from the three races in Kent, to blast him to the fore.
Hughes, from Water Orton in Warwickshire, has previous from Silverstone, securing pole position there back in April. He is optimistic of more success this weekend: “I’m really looking forward to Silverstone, it’s my favourite circuit of the year and the stretch from Luffield all the way to Stowe corner is the best bit of track I’ve ever driven. It really suits my style and it’s great to feel the car on the edge at high speed.
“We go to Silverstone with no pre-set aims, it’s still a case of doing the best job we can. We need to go as fast as possible in qualifying, get three good starts in the races and then we can focus on good results. I got pole last time we were here so hopefully I can do that again.
“It’s still too early to be looking at the championship, with 270 points still on offer it’s all to play for and the championship is still extremely close. I need to keep finishing in the top five as often as I can, and if I do that I should still be right up there come the final race at Donington.”
He usurped Mark Godwin Racing’s Dalton as championship leader at Brands Hatch, who had been leading since round 10 at Oulton Park. Dalton, from Audley in Staffordshire lies third in the championship, and is in bullish mood ahead of the rounds this weekend: “I know that I and the team will do the very best we can. It’s super tight at the top of the table and I can take satisfaction from the fact that, despite having a tough time, I’m still delivering points. The pressure is off me now, I’m no longer the hunted, I’m the hunter.
“I really hope we can get back on track at Silverstone. It’s a massive privilege to be able to race on the same circuit that the F1 cars do and I’m looking for wins to put big pressure on going into the final two rounds.”
Hillspeed’s Seb Morris currently lies second in the championship, and was the only driver to finish on the podium in all three races during F4’s last visit to Silverstone. He’s yet to win a race in F4, but came very close during the season opener, and is expecting success this weekend: “I know I am quick around Silverstone and extremely dialled in round there, so I am excited for the prospects of hopefully another good weekend to try and take the championship lead.”
Fellow championship front-runner Jack Barlow had a strong weekend at Brands Hatch, taking his third podium of the season, while SWR team mate Matty Graham took his maiden victory. Meanwhile Charlie Robertson and Matt Bell had difficult weekends at Brands Hatch, but will be hoping to kick on at Silverstone.
Pietro Fittipaldi also secured his maiden win at Brands Hatch for Mark Godwin Racing, and should go well again, having shown flashes of pace at the season opener. Fellow race-winners James Fletcher and Struan Moore are also expected to be right in the mix as well.
Oulton Park race winner, Ross Gunn from High Wycombe, counts Silverstone as his home circuit, and the 16-year-old Motionsport driver is hoping to continue his recent run of strong form: “Silverstone is a great circuit and is rightfully thought of as one of the best circuits in the world. It has some amazing high speed corners and the slower speed ‘Loop’ section adds some character too and makes it more technical.
“I’ve done a lot of simulator work so I feel like I’m well prepared. We were fast at Brands Hatch but found ourselves in the wrong position at the wrong time to maximise our speed, but providing we can get qualifying sorted like we did at Oulton Park, I’m confident we can get some more good results.”
Several teams also count this as their home round. The ‘Motorsport Valley’ around Silverstone is well documented, and six teams are located within a 50 mile radius of the venue, with Motionsport and Team KBS the closest, located in Banbury and Brackley respectively.
F4 provided three extremely exciting races at Silverstone in April, with F1-star Mark Webber in attendance. The championship is well poised to once again deliver an intriguing trio of contests as the title battle begins to take shape!