Saturday morning at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza kicked off with the Euro 4 Championship qualifying sessions. In two 15-minute sessions, 30 drivers from around the world competed to determine the starting grid for the weekend's three races. In the first qualifying session, rookie sensation Freddie Slater secured pole position. He took command of the PREMA Racing cars and posted the fastest time with a lap time of 1'52.227. Following him closely in the first session, thus securing the front row for Race 1, was Kacper Sztuka, the Polish ace from US Racing, who had a gap of 0.117. The third spot went to Finnish Ferrari Driver Academy driver Tuukka Taponen, who claimed P3 with a gap of 0.197. British driver Arvid Lindblad, a Red Bull junior driver for Prema, took the fourth position, trailing the leader by 0.233. Maltese-Filipino driver Zachary David of US Racing secured the fifth spot on the grid with a gap of 0.275. Ugo Ugochukwu, the American junior driver for McLaren at Prema Racing, finished sixth with a gap of 0.371. Tuscany native Nicola Lacorte, also a Prema driver, took seventh place with a gap of 0.546. Continuing in eighth and ninth place were two white and red cars from the Vicenza-based team, with Rashid Al Dhaheri and Australian Ferrari Driver Academy driver James Wharton registering gaps of 0.689 and 0.734, respectively. Closing out the Top 10 was Akshay Bohra, a US Racing driver from the United States, with a gap of 0.825.
During the first qualifying session, several drivers slowed down exceeding the allowed limits, resulting in a penalty that would move them back two positions on the starting grid for the next race. Those affected by the penalty included Sztuka, Lindblad, Ugochukwu, Badoer, Wharton, Akhmed, Domingues, Pradel, and Bhirombhakdi. Akhmed, Pradel and Liu had already received a two-position grid penalty due to using tires not previously declared during practice sessions.
Moving on to the second session, this time it was Polish driver Sztuka who earned the second pole position available for the weekend. Sztuka completed an impressive lap with a time of 1'51.715, remaining the only driver on the track to break the 1 minute and 52 seconds barrier. Lindblad also had a strong qualifying performance and secured a spot on the front row with a gap of 0.356 seconds. This time, British driver Freddie Slater finished third, confirming expectations on his Championship debut with a superb performance and creating opportunities to race for the win, with a gap of 0.578. Bohra just narrowly missed out on third place with a gap of 0.592. Following them in sixth place was Italian driver Brando Badoer of Van Amersfoort Racing, with a gap of 0.607. Ruiqi Liu, a Chinese driver from US Racing, finished seventh, trailing the leader by 0.647 seconds. Eighth place went to the current championship leader Ugochukwu, with a gap of 0.667, followed by Ferrari Academy drivers Wharton and Taponen, who rounded out the top 10 with gaps of 0.692 and 0.697, respectively.
The starting grid for Race 3, determined by the second-best time achieved across the two sessions, will once again see Kacper Sztuka on pole with a second-best time of 1'51.824. Freddie Slater will join him on the front row (+0.427), cementing an exceptional qualifying performance. Starting from behind them will be Bohra and Lindblad, both with the same second-best lap time (+0.577). The third row will feature American Ugochukwu (+0.639) and Italian Badoer (+0.755), followed by Taponen (+0.776) and Lacorte (+0.786). The ninth and tenth rows on the Race 3 grid will be occupied by Sicilian Alfio Spina of BVM Racing (+0.834) and Liu from China (+0.887).
This was an extremely exciting qualifying session, marked by speed and intense competition, foreshadowing three thrilling races throughout the weekend. With minimal time gaps and fierce competition at the top, drivers are competing at the best of their ability for crucial points in the new Formula 4 series promoted by ACI Sport and WSK Promotion.
Freddie Slater: “It has been a good test day yesterday, and we pulled it together then. I’m obviously buzzing about that, at the first race in the Euro 4. We definitely got pace and we’ll see what happens during the races.”
Kacper Sztuka: “It was a decent lap. I Q2 we were very fast. In Q1 we didn’t pull all together, but I ended up in P2, so yes, all good before the races. Good positions to start, for sure we will fight!”
The weekend's schedule: next step today, Saturday, September 16, is Race 1, lasting 30 minutes + 1 lap, starting at 14:45. Sunday, September 17, will feature Race 2 (30 minutes + 1 lap) at 10:30, followed by Race 3 (30 minutes + 1 lap) at 17:35. All three races of the weekend will be broadcast live with English commentary on the Euro 4 Championship's YouTube and Facebook pages and on Motorsport TV (https://eu.motorsport.tv/)