BRDC Formula 4 2015 - Brands Hatch Indy
In a triumphant finalé to a remarkable season, Comma-sponsored Will Palmer took his tally of race wins to twelve in the concluding rounds of the 2015 Duo BRDC Formula 4 championship at Brands Hatch, Kent, on the weekend of September 26th/27th. With dominant victories from pole position in Races 1 & 3 buttressed by sixth – from eighth on the grid – in Race 2, the 18 year old Palmer, from Southwater, East Sussex, closed out his record breaking championship season with a 50% race-winning ratio and a massive total of 592 points – 137 more than this year's championship runner-up and 109 more than the previous record set by George Russell in 2014.
To put this into context, no other driver in this year's championship top ten scored more than two race wins throughout the 24 race series, and three drivers in the championship top ten failed to score any race wins at all. Such was Palmer's monopoly that the only historic achievement he failed to equal – by its very nature, it can't actually be broken - was Sennan Fielding's unique hat trick of wins in a single Formula 4 meeting at Silverstone in 2014.
"It is amazing," said the new champion. "To win half of the races in the season is something I couldn't have possibly dreamt of at the beginning of the year. I'm delighted that we have been able to be so successful this year, so I have to say a big thank you to the HHC team for that, because together over the last four years we've worked so well together and come a long way."
With Palmer inhabiting a zone of his own, interest in the battle for the minor championship places focused at Brands Hatch on his HHC team-mate Harri Newey, Tom Jackson (Chris Dittmann Racing) Ciaran Haggerty (Écurie Écosse/GB Racing) and Rodrigo Fonseca (Lanan Racing). Variously viable permutations could install any of these as the championship runner-up, but recent form and bookies' odds favoured Newey or Jackson most strongly with just nine points separating them before the action kicked off.
Neither of them excelled in Race 1 (where Fernando Urrutia (Douglas Motorsport) popped out of seemingly nowhere to finish second) with Newey eighth and Jackson outside the top ten in thirteenth place. However, Newey's result gifted him the crucial pole position on the reverse order grid for Race 2, and he made no mistake by translating that into a commanding win by nearly 9 seconds while Jackson finished only twelfth. That effectively settled the issue, because although they battled each other in Palmer's wake for second place in Race 3, Newey once again got the upper hand and finished the season with a 35 points advantage over Jackson in third place.
The tussle for fourth and fifth places in the championship went all the way to the wire. Fonseca, with two race wins to his credit during the season, claimed third place less than a second ahead of Haggerty in Race 1 and pretty well sealed the deal by finishing third again, two seconds and two places ahead of Haggerty in Race 2. The 12 points gap between them - which had been to Haggerty's advantage before the weekend – ultimately swung to just 3 in Fonseca's favour after the Mexican finished fourth and the Scot eighth in Race 3. Although he was the only driver in the top five to be without a race win in 2015, Haggerty made five visits to the podium during the season – three times as runner-up - and was a model of competitive consistency throughout. If he goes for a second shot at the title in 2016, he's sure to be among the favourites.
With only five drivers scoring more than 400 championship points, sixth place in the table went to two-time race winner Jordan Albert for Sean Walkinshaw racing on 359 points, 30 more than Lanan Racing's Jack Bartholomew who, like Haggerty, was without a race win but had a consistent run of good points. After a storming start with two race wins in two meetings to kick start the year, Chris Mealin (Lanan) went off the boil and struggled to regain that sort of form in the later stages of the season. 303 points for eighth place in the table kept him well clear of Jackson's team-mate, Omar Ismail, who missed the first six races, won the tenth and amassed a run of other good results throughout the season. Jack Lang (Lang Sport/Gorse Motors), the first of the 'independents', rounded out the championship top ten table on 244 points but, like Haggerty and Bartholomew, was without a race win during the year. Indeed, the only other race winner in 2015 was Michael O'Brien (Chris Dittmann Racing) who won early on at Rockingham before budget problems took their toll and he failed to finish the season.
The Ralph Firman-designed Formula 4 car which has served the championship so well in the years since its inception is now retired from competition, to be replaced by a faster, more technically advanced Tatuus-Cosworth Formula 4 car which conforms to the FIA standards and has been in development throughout the year. It will make its debut in the 2015 Formula 4 Winter Trophy series starting at Snetterton, Norfolk on November 7th/8th and concluding the following weekend at Brands Hatch.
Comma is Technical Partner to Duo 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.