BRITISH F4 LAUNCHES 2019 SEASON AT BRANDS HATCH
Preparations for the new F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost season continued at Brands Hatch yesterday [13th March] with the series’ official Media Day.
A record-high media audience greeted the first batch of contenders signed up for Britain’s FIA-sanctioned Formula 4 series, with several taking the opportunity to showcase their new liveries ahead of the new campaign.
It also provided the next generation of Ford EcoBoost-powered stars with the opportunity to test extensively at the 1.19-mile Kent circuit, with a grand total of 1,604 laps – nearly 2,000 miles of running – completed over the six and a half hours of track time in the category’s reliable, race-proven and cost-effective car.
AM: Skelton and JHR Developments lay down the early marker
Changeable conditions proved to be the order of the day, with championship returnee Josh Skelton (JHR Developments) putting his experience to good use in the morning to head up the timesheets in the final half-hour of running with a 46.243, edging out Double R Racing’s Sebastian Alvarez by 0.093 seconds.
Newcomer Zane Maloney was classified third for the returning Carlin squad, with the Rookie Cup contender having led the majority of the session, a further two tenths back. Alex Connor led Arden’s charge in fourth ahead of Ginetta graduates Louis Foster (Double R) and Luke Browning (Richardson Racing).
PM: Horsten puts Arden’s ‘Red Arrows’ on an upward trajectory
It would be another of Arden’s ‘Red Arrows’ – Bart Horsten – who mastered the conditions in the afternoon to go quickest, his 46.510 enough to go fastest in a session that saw the top eight split by less than two tenths of a second.
The Australian left it similarly late to Skelton to go fastest, with Browning also a last-minute improver to go second for Richardson, 0.020 seconds adrift.
Skelton rounded out a strong day in third, with Tommy Foster and Connor ensuring all three Arden cars ended the day in the top five.
Alvarez and Maloney were classified sixth and seventh, with Louis Foster, Fortec’s Roberto Faria and JHR’s Carter Williams rounding out the top ten.
The latest two entries – Fortec’s Mariano Martinez and Double R’s Reema Juffali, were eleventh and twelfth but showed good progress over the course of the day and will undoubtedly be a force to be reckoned with at the season opener.
Josh Skelton said, “I’m really pleased with how the day went, having topped the times in the morning session we were looking good. The team at JHR were working well together and managed to find a good setup.
“The afternoon session didn’t go as well as it could have with some mixed weather conditions, but we still showed good speed with used tyres. It’s a shame we didn’t manage to get a run on the new ones because I think we had a lot more time to come.
“On the whole, it was a great day with the quickest overall time and I’m confident heading into the first round. Thank you to the team – and my sponsors – for all their continued hard work and support.”
Bart Horsten said, “Overall, it was a good day. We made improvements from the morning session to the afternoon, I was consistently fast on each of my three runs and the guys at Arden Motorsport did a fantastic job to get me out on track at the right times.
“The lap times are so close around Brands Hatch because it’s such a short track. I think we’ll have to wait for Friday practice at the first event to get a proper reading on where the competition is at, but I’ve ended Media Day at the top of the timesheets with the car as it will be for the first race, so I’m pleased with that.
“I feel more confident now than I did going into this week, so I’ll take the positives forward from that and hopefully we can start the season on the front foot.”
Further driver announcements are expected ahead of the opening round of the season at Brands Hatch on 6th-7th April.