Drivers past, present and future star on Abu Dhabi F1 support bill
Past, present and future stars of the ROKiT F4 British Championship certified by FIA took the headlines in the support races at the Formula 1 ® Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last weekend (19-20 November).
The season-ending trip to the Middle East marked the latest edition of the F4 UAE Trophy event, with Louis Sharp and Alex Dunne, two starring names from the 2022 ROKiT British F4 campaign, heading out to compete alongside confirmed ’23 entries William Macintyre, Kanato Le and James Piszcyk.
Utilising the same Tatuus-Abarth combination as Britain’s FIA Formula 4 series, it was little surprise to see record-breaking champion Alex Dunne at the top of the timesheets from the opening practice sessions, the Irishman having recently announced his move to GB3 for next year.
But, despite converting his practice promise into pole position under the floodlights, Dunne was overhauled in the first of two races by Sharp. Starting third, the Kiwi ace gained second spot with a lightning start, then caught and passed Dunne at half distance before stretching out a six-second winning margin at the chequered flag.
The New Zealand national anthem would ring out with Sharp on the top step of the rostrum again on Sunday, but despite having pole position, it was another hard-fought contest between Sharp and Dunne.
The two ran side-by-side for much of the opening exchanges, until an early skirmish left Dunne bound for the pit lane with a damaged front wing, and the safety car out on circuit to collect the debris. With the eyes of the F1® paddock trained upon him, Sharp kept his cool at the restart and made it ‘two for two’, leading home Le in second.
“Racing in Abu Dhabi has been an incredible experience and I can’t thank David Dicker and Rodin Cars enough – without their wonderful support none of this would be possible,” said an elated Sharp.
“My performances in the British Championship, now topped by these two wins in Abu Dhabi, give me lots of confidence and self-belief going forward. To stand on top of the F1 podium and hear the New Zealand anthem was just so, so cool.”
Also rounding out the 2022 campaign around the 3.2-mile Yas Marina Circuit was FIA Formula 2, the premier feeder series for F1®.
Logan Sargeant – one of five ROKiT British F4 graduates on the 22-car grid – has been widely tipped to join Williams for a race seat in 2023, but the American first needed to secure seventh overall or better in the final championship standings in order to gain the recquisite number of FIA Super Licence points.
Sixth in the opening race kept the 21-year-old firmly in the hunt, and he went one better in the Feature Race to complete the top five, claim fourth in the points and in all likelihood book a berth at the Grove-based Williams team for 2023 alongside Alex Albon.
Dennis Hauger narrowly missed out on a podium, the Norwegian finishing fourth on both occasions. Jack Doohan – the 2018 Rookie Cup winner – was among the points in race one, before dramatically losing his front-left tyre exiting the pits on the alternate strategy in the Feature and retiring early.
2019 champion Zane Maloney impressed on his debut outing, including finishing ahead of fellow F4 graduate Olli Caldwell in both races.