Italian rookie Enzo Trulli has clinched the 2021 F4UAE Championship powered by Abarth by holding off title rival Dilano Van’t Hoff in the final race of the season at the Dubai Autodrome.
The son of former F1 race-winner Jarno Trulli, the 15-year-old rookie had sat second in the championship standings all year behind Van’t Hoff, however, went into the final day of racing ahead by only a few points and eventually won by just one.
Three drivers were in title contention coming into Round 5 - Trulli, Van’t Hoff and Xcel Motorsport’s Kirill Smal - however, just two remained on the final day of racing. Having won four races so far this season, this weekend was particularly tough for Trulli after claiming only two podium finishes and failing to start Race 2 due to suspension issues. Earning both the drivers’ title and the champion rookie title, it was also the first time his team CRAM Durango has won a title since the Formula Abarth championship in 2013.
“It’s been an incredible season of F4UAE and certainly the most competitive we’ve had in five seasons,” said category technical director and promoter Craig Thompson. “Congratulations to Enzo Trulli on the title victory, Dilano Van’t Hoff for being a standout driver, plus all our other winners. The talent this season was really high and to have such close racing and multiple winners has been very exciting to watch. The final few races today were nail-biters and for the title to come down to just one point is incredible.
“It’s been a very challenging season not just with five events back-to-back, but also with local travel restrictions and regulations to adhere to, but we appreciate all the efforts made by our teams and drivers, our officials and governing body, and the UAE authorities to ensure safe racing. We can’t thank everyone enough for allowing F4UAE to go ahead and we look forward to season number six and much more growth next year.”
Eleven drivers lined up for the grand finale at the Dubai Autodrome, with Mücke Motorsport adding former German F4 race winner Vlad Lomko (#69) to the team.
Lomko impressed from the start, topping the first qualifying session with a 2m0.341s lap; the first driver other than Van’t Hoff (#17) to claim pole position this season. Van’t Hoff qualified second fastest, but found the pace to claim pole for Race 2 and Race 3 and in turn proving to be the most dominating qualifier in recent F4UAE history.
The first 20-minute race saw Lomko lead initially, however, an altercation with Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema’s Hamda Al Qubaisi (#88) saw the Russian fall down the order. An investigation into the incident declared no driver at fault, giving Al Qubaisi the victory over Trulli (#34) and Smal (#7), leaving Lomko down in sixth and Van’t Hoff in eighth.
Van’t Hoff’s luck changed in Race 2 as his rival Trulli was unable to start due to suspension issues, however, the Dutch racer soon picked up a five-second penalty for jumping the start. Pushing hard to gain a lead of eight-seconds mid-race, the lead was nulled when the Safety Car was called with two minutes remaining, leaving Van’t Hoff to finish a lowly seventh.
During the closing stages of the race, Lomko passed Smal for P2, which resulted in a victory after Van’t Hoff’s penalty was applied. Jame Day (#24) finished third while Al Qubaisi finished last after spinning in the closing laps.
Saturday’s morning race saw Van’t Hoff and Lomko start from the front row, with both duelling for the whole race. However, it was the Russian who moved to the lead and won by just 0.308 seconds across the line. Trulli stalled on the grid, giving more valuable championship points back to Van’t Hoff, however, charged through the field to finish fourth by race’s end after duelling with Al Qubaisi who finished on the podium one place ahead.
The Race 4 reverse-grid race - the title decider - saw Oleksandr Partyshev (#23) start from pole with Trulli starting from P5 and Van’t Hoff two places behind. A hectic opening lap saw Marti pitting and the Safety Car coming out, with Jonas Ried (#77) taking the lead over Smal on the restart, followed by Al Qubaisi, Van’t Hoff, Partyshev and Trulli. Al Qubaisi and Van’t Hoff soon came together with the Emirati spinning and Van’t Hoff going wide, giving Trulli the opportunity to overtake both for third place. Van’t Hoff set the fastest lap time of the race and finished fourth, but it wasn’t enough to beat Trulli on points. Smal won the race over Ried and Trulli.
Enzo Trulli claimed the title on 319 points, followed by Dilano Van’t Hoff on 318, Kirill Smal fifth on 289, Hamda Al Qubaisi fourth with 221 and Tasanapol Inthraphuvasak fifth on 154 points.
Quotebook: Enzo Trulli, Champion (#34)
"Formula 4 UAE has been a fantastic experience. Being able to practice and race so much, against high level opponents was the spark that pushed me to find my limits and to improve myself, day after day. This year, the competitive level of my challengers was very high and I am sure that they will all be successful in the various national championship they will compete in."