Raoul Hyman and Maini won today’s two races, but it’s Maini’s victory in the latter, in one of the most eventful F4 races yet seen, which could prove pivotal in this year’s title battle, as his championship rivals all hit trouble.
HHC Motorsport’s Hyman took his third win of the season in this morning’s second race of the weekend. Pole sitter Charlie Eastwood had plenty of wheelspin off the line, allowing Hyman, starting alongside him on the front row, to draw alongside on the run to Redgate. Eastwood though just held firm to keep the lead, while his team mate Diego Menchaca was able to pass Hyman and take second.
The Douglas duo crossed the line at the end of the first lap side-by-side, with Eastwood just holding the lead from Menchaca, with Hyman third. Hyman re-passed Menchaca on lap two, though Eastwood was starting to pull away, holding a 0.8s advantage at the end of lap two, while Arjun Maini moved into third ahead of Menchaca.
But on lap three, Eastwood spun at the Old Hairpin, falling to tenth, allowing Hyman to take the lead, while Palmer climbed from fifth to second on the same lap.
Hyman then proceeded to pull out a big gap, extending his advantage consistently to take the win by just under five seconds, and temporarily moving up to third in the championship.
With the grid for race three decided by fastest race laps, long time championship leader George Russell lined-up on pole position with Maini alongside.
Maini made slightly the better start to draw alongside Russell on the run to Redgate on lap one, although he fell to fifth at the end of the lap with Hyman rising to second.
The championship rivals began to hit misfortune on lap two. Hyman attempted a lunge on Russell at the end of the lap, but just behind, Will Palmer made contact with Sennan Fielding, forcing Palmer into retirement and dropping Fielding down the order and earning Palmer a 10-place grid penalty for the next race at Snetterton.
Moments later, Hyman collided with race leader Russell at the Old Hairpin, forcing both into retirement and also earning Hyman a 10-place grid penalty for Snetterton, a decision he has appealed to the national court.
That promoted Maini into the lead, while also promoting Moore into second and Menchaca into third.
Maini capitalised on his fortuitous position, and built a strong lead of over two seconds from Moore. But on lap six Maini ran wide on debris at the Esses, and Moore closed right up, with the Lanan duo crossing the line side-by-side starting lap seven. The drama allowed Menchaca to close up and he moved into second ahead of Moore, with Eastwood also passing the Lanan driver, with the top-eight drivers at this point covered by just 2.5 seconds.
Moore then hit trouble and fell to 11th behind a recovering Fielding, while SWR – Caterham F1’s Jordan Albert moved into third place after passing Eastwood.
Maini was able to build a gap once more, with his lead approaching one second in the later stages, but he appeared under threat once more starting the last lap, running just half a second ahead of Menchaca. But the Indian racer held on to claim his fourth win of the season, to dramatically take the championship lead, with Menchaca taking his second podium of the day in second, and Albert his first F4 podium in third.
Maini now leads the BRDC F4 Championship by 21 points, the first time since the Silverstone opener in April that anyone other than George Russell has led the standings. Russell drops to second while Fielding climbs into third. Hyman drops to fourth, with Struan Moore and Will Palmer fifth and sixth, and mathematically still in contention in the championship battle heading to the final round of the season at Snetterton in five weekend’s time.
Maini commented: “That was a really good race. I dropped a few places on the first lap but I got a bit lucky as everyone kept taking each other out in front of me. I got into the lead and built a gap, but someone went off in front of me and threw a lot of dust onto the track, and I got onto the dust and slipped off. After that, it was really hard but I think I did a good job to keep the lead.
“It feels great to be the championship leader, so close to the end of the championship. Taking the championship lead at this time in the year could be the perfect moment, but now the pressure is all on me. I need to use it positively and stay motivated to work hard.”
By winning the race, Arjun Maini also claimed the Raymond Mays Silver Salver trophy from the Donington Park Racing Association Club. Maini, Menchaca and Albert were presented with their trophies on the podium by BRDC member and sports car racer Phil Keen, while GP3-racer Dino Zamparelli did the honours for race two.
BRDC F4, Donington Park race two result:
1. Raoul Hyman, HHC Motorsport, 12 laps
2. Will Palmer, HHC Motorsport, +4.970s
3. Diego Menchaca, Douglas Motorsport, +8.355s
4. Arjun Maini, Lanan Racing, +9.704s
5. Struan Moore, Lanan Racing, +10.072s
6. George Russell, Lanan Racing, +11.530s
7. Sennan Fielding, HHC Motorsport, +11.867s
8. Rodrigo Fonseca, Douglas Motorsport, +18.311s
9. Gaetano di Mauro, Petroball Racing, +18.543s
10. Charlie Eastwood, Douglas Motorsport, +18.974s
Click here for full result.
BRDC F4, Donington Park race three result:
1. Arjun Maini, Lanan Racing, 12 laps
2. Diego Menchaca, Douglas Motorsport, +0.783s
3. Jordan Albert, SWR – Caterham F1, +1.638s
4. Charlie Eastwood, Douglas Motorsport, +3.582s
5. Rodrigo Fonseca, Douglas Motorsport, +4.624s
6. Rahul Mayer, Hillspeed, +5.475s
7. Connor Jupp, Meridian Racing, +9.645s
8. Alfredo Zabalza, Hillspeed, +11.761s
9. Sennan Fielding, HHC Motorsport, +11.896s
10. Struan Moore, Lanan Racing, +12.034s
BRDC F4 Championship standings after race 21 of 24:*
1. Arjun Maini, Lanan Racing, 432pts
2. George Russell, Lanan Racing, 411pts
3. Sennan Fielding, HHC Motorsport, 399pts
4. Raoul Hyman, HHC Motorsport, 394pts
5. Struan Moore, Lanan Racing, 358pts
6. Will Palmer, HHC Motorsport, 349pts
7. Diego Menchaca, Douglas Motorsport, 277pts
8. Chris Middlehurst, Mark Godwin Racing, 253pts
9. Gaetano di Mauro, Petroball, 250pts
10. Jordan Albert, SWR – Caterham F1, 212pts