PREMA Powerteam claimed two podium finishes and a triple rookie win at Vallelunga, home to the third round of the 2021 Italian Formula 4 Championship. Sebastian Montoya established himself among the most competitive contenders all weekend. After taking second place in race 2, a jump start penalty deprived the 16-year-old Colombian-American of a chance to battle for the win. In race 3, Montoya fought as hard as he could with another charge for victory. He eventually came short but secured another second place and valuable points for the series. Race 3 proved extremely challenging for all drivers as a lengthy red flag, coupled with the torrid weather, really put their stamina to the test. Despite the tough situation, all PREMA Powerteam drivers were able to secure points.
Making his championship debut at Vallelunga, 15-year-old Charlie Wurz capped the weekend with P4 overall and a rookie win after qualifying third for race 3. The Austrian found great chemistry with the Roman venue and battled with more experienced drivers on equal terms after an early issue in race 1 and a mistake in race 2.
Conrad Laursen delivered an outstanding performance all weekend too. The fast-starting Dane secured two rookie wins and P4 overall in Race 3. He was finally back to his early Paul Ricard form after injury and lack of track time had hampered him in the following rounds, and laid really good foundations for the next outings.
Kirill Small was a consistent scorer at Vallelunga. The 16-year-old Russian posted triple points finishes with P8, P6 and P5 respectively in the three races. Hamda Al Qubaisi faced bad luck in the first two heats, but eventually put up a brilliant display with P7 in race 3 showing more good potential for the remainder of the year.
Charlie Wurz: "I'm very happy with this weekend, it started quite well with a good pace in free practice. The team and I worked quite hard the whole weekend to find a good pace and we did it. We got P4 in the first qualifying and then we struggled a bit in Q2. In qualifying for race 3 we got a good position because we had consistent laptimes in Q1. I got a lot of experience in the races as this was my first weekend. It helped me a lot and there are still quite a lot of things to work on. In race 2 we had an engine issue in the first lap but it resolved itself and we fought back and gained 11 positions. In race 2, it was just a mistake on my part. I stalled at the start, which was annoying because we had a decent starting position and a very good pace. I still managed to go from last place to P12. In race 3, I started from P3 and we were on pace with the others, almost having the fastest lap and chasing down the car in front. The fight for third place was very close with similar laptimes. We had a nice consistent race. We showed we were fast and we won in the rookie standings. I think we can be quite happy with that. There are still things to work on, especially the starts. I will focus on that for the following tests. I'm very thankful to the team for their support: full push for my next race!"
Sebastian Montoya: "I'm pretty happy with the weekend in general, the speed was quite good. We worked a lot in testing and free practice to get the car where it was for race day. Qualifying 1 was really strong, I made a small mistake and couldn't do the lap, but in Q2 I was able to put it together and managed pole for race 2. I got a decent start in race 1, but it's just very difficult to pass here. In race 2, I had a small issue with the clutch, and I moved a little bit before the lights went out. I got a drive-through penalty when I was leading, but the pace was very quick, and I think we could have turned that into a win. In the last race, I had a good start. I fought a bit for P1, then the safety car came out, and after that, I got into the lead, but with the red flag that came out afterwards, the positions were reversed. In the end, I was fighting for P1 again. It was a good battle with Bearman but we couldn't come out on top. I think the speed we had all weekend was very positive, I moved to P3 in the championship, closed a bit the gap to P2. Now we have to continue the work for the next one."
Kirill Smal: "There's not a lot to say about the weekend. We have been missing the pace since the beginning. We tried to improve where we were losing but we were also struggling on other aspects. I would say that this was just not our weekend, and I have a feeling that this is not reflective of our real potential. Anyway, we finished all the races in the points, and it’s still important, so we just hope we will get into a good rhythm really soon. Congrats to my teammates on their podiums, and our time will be here soon."
Conrad Laursen: "It has been a very good weekend for me especially after some disappointing runs where I just couldn't really find the pace, partly because of my broken finger, which was hindering me a bit. It's great to be back in the form we had at the start of the season. I'm really happy with the results. Of course, there is still something to improve, to win the overall races instead of the rookie races. Some mistakes I made this weekend that I learned from, and I will keep with me for the rest of the season. I will try to go for the overall podium next time, and keep the form that we had going here. I'm happy with the weekend, it felt that everything went quite well."
Hamda Al Qubaisi: "In qualifying, I struggled with track position, but I was able to score a P10 and a P6 which was quite good. Then in race 1, I had a good pace and put up some great battles but didn’t manage to finish within the points. In race 2, I had a really good pace again and was fighting around P7 before I made a mistake that cost me the race. However, I was able to bounce back for race 3, and get a P7 from P11. I would like to thank Kaspersky Lab and Strata for the ongoing support and also the team for an amazing job this weekend."