PREMA Powerteam showed winning form in the opening round of the Italian Formula 4 Championship at Circuit Paul Ricard. The tough French venue was a challenge for all drivers, with several contacts impacting the overall results.
Russian Kirill Smal was eventually able to bring home some serious silverware. The 16-year-old set a blistering pace in qualifying 1 and then dominated from pole to win in the first race. In race 2, Smal took third place, but made contact with another car and got out of contention in race 3.
Sebastian Montoya secured two points finishes. The Colombian-American set a great pace in qualifying and maximised his results in the race despite also dealing with his fair share of attrition. However, he rebounded to take fourth place in race 2 before capping the weekend with P5 in race 3.
Hamda Al Qubaisi had a learning weekend, progressively making her way towards the top-10 and eventually held P8 for the most part of race 3. Unfortunately, contacts put her out of contention in all three heats.
After impressing in race 1, Conrad Laursen was unfortunately sidelined by a hand injury. The Dane had a brilliant start in qualifying and Race 1, winning the first-place rookie trophy. Then, in race 2, he was involved in an incident that eventually forced him to sit out race 3. Everybody at PREMA wishes him a very speedy recovery.
Sebastian Montoya: The weekend was quite good. Obviously, we had some challenges. I knew from the test we would have had the speed, and I knew there were going to be people who were quicker, but it was my first weekend in F4 where I started putting everything together: I always had the speed, but I hadn't always done it from my side. In qualifying 1, I messed up a bit and didn't get the right positioning, so I didn't get a clean lap in. In qualifying 2 I did a much better job and the team helped me to get into a good position so we qualified P4 and P3. In race 1 the speed was mega, both I and Kirill were really quick and I was able to catch and pass cars quite easily with an amazing car. Then we got a bit unlucky with a tyre that got loose in a small contact. In race 2 I got a good start, up to P3, but I didn't have the pace compared to race 1. I tried to fight back, but I couldn't 100% maximize what we had we finished in P4 with good points. In race 3 I got a mega start and got to P2. Another car almost crashed into me, so I had to avoid the collision, but we finished P5 and had amazing speed at the end. I just want to give a big thanks to the team. I couldn't give them the first podium that we've wanted since last year, but we showed great speed and now we'll work hard for Misano!"
Kirill Smal: "Overall it has been a good weekend with pole and a double podium. Of course, I'm really happy for my first win in the series, but I just hope it will be one of many to come. Unfortunately, my mistake cost me points in race 3 but it’s racing, so nothing to do about it. In general, I'm quite happy with our racing pace even though overall, I just have to work better on myself. I think that’s was quite a good start of the season, and we are more than ready for Misano."
Conrad Laursen: "The weekend was very good in progress, obviously up to the crash. I felt like I learned a lot and the results of qualifying and the first race were very positive. For sure, we have a lot to work on, but we'll come back stronger for Misano and ready with no injury."
Hamda Al Qubaisi: "Not the best way to start the F4 Italian championship... the pace was there, but unfortunately this is racing, and certain things happen, sometimes avoidable and sometimes unavoidable. It was definitely a possibility to get some points, but I will learn from this weekend and focus on the upcoming race."