BRDC Formula 4 2015 - Rockingham
By becoming the only driver so far to record a second win in the 2015 duo BRDC Formula 4 championship, 21 year old Manxman Chris Mealin helped Lanan Racing to put an early triple lock on the top of the UK's premier junior single-seater series which they have commanded since its inauguration in 2013. Mealin's victory in Race 3 at the Rockingham, Northants circuit over the May 2/3 weekend earned him the championship lead following fourth place in Race 1 and sixth in Race 2, and built on a win and second place podium in the season's opener at Oulton Park, Cheshire in April.
Mealin's 18 year old Mexican team mate, Rodrigo Fonseca won the first race at Rockingham and, after eighth place in Race 2, followed up with a second place podium to Mealin, making him the top points scorer of the weekend and elevating him to second place in the championship table, 126 points to Mealin's 140. Jack Bartholomew, Lanan's 16 year old former Karter and now third in the championship, went impressively about his work to score almost as well as he did at Outlon Park, finishing the weekend's trio of races with 50 points for sixth, ninth and fourth places respectively.
With their lead drivers having shone in practice, HHC Motorsport - Lanan's keenest opponents for team championship honours – ultimately had a sobering weekend. It started full of expectation, with Harri Newey – 16 year old son of fêted Red Bull designer Adrian – and Comma-sponsored championship leader Will Palmer – 18 year old son of former Formula 1 driver Jonathan – topping the F4 qualifying time sheets. So far, so hopeful. But it all went very quickly wrong, as Newey hit technical problems on the grid and was unable to make the start of Race 1, and Palmer was one of four drivers to get it all wrong and put an end his race at turn two on the opening lap. In a very wet Race 2, the HHC duo fought mightily from the back of the grid to make amends, with Newey finishing less than a second short of a podium finish in fourth place and Palmer fifth, albeit quite a way farther down the road. It was left to Mark Godwin Racing's Michael O'Brien - son of former Touring Car winner Mike - to master the wet conditions and win Race 2 narrowly from Tom Jackson for Chris Dittmann Racing, with Jordan Albert for Sean Walkinshaw Racing (SWR) third.
In the championship shake-out, Palmer dropped from first to fourth, a point behind Bartholomew after finishing eighth in Race 3, while Newey dipped to sixth behind Jackson after finishing twelfth in the Rockingham finale. Jackson will be kicking himself for making an early exit at the same time as Palmer from Race 1, and Albert, seventh in the table, will be feeling much the same after throwing it all away while running well in the big points in Race 3. His SWR team mate, 18 year old Zubair Hoque, has made an impressively good start to the season after sampling F4 in the Winter Series, and lies eighth in the championship after making his maiden podium visit for third place in Race 3. O'Brien's excellent Race 2 victory earned him ninth placed in the championship, while Ecurie Ecosse/GBR graduate Ciaran Haggerty rounds out the top ten after a bleak weekend in which he DNF in Races 2 and 3 after finishing only thirteenth in Race 1.
Ameya Vaidyanathan (Hillspeed) and Jack Lang (Lang Sport) were the only other drivers to make podium appearances at Rockingham, finishing runner-up and third respectively to Fonseca in Race 1. Lang, equal on points to Haggerty in the championship, would likely be further up the table but for two DNFs so far this year, while India's Vaidyanathan described his debut podium in his first year of racing as 'unreal'.
Comma is Technical Partner to BRDC Formula 4, and in addition to sponsoring Will Palmer in the 24 race series, supplies Comma brand lubricants, coolants and maintenance chemicals to all teams competing in the championship. Visit the excellent BRDC Formula 4 website at www.formula4.com to keep up with full results, race reports, information and features about the championship. Visit the excellent BRDC Formula 4 website at www.formula4.com to keep up with full results, race reports, information and features about the championship.