Five moments that won Alex Dunne the 2022 ROKiT British F4 title
With 11 victories, 17 podiums, 5 pole positions and the ROKiT F4 British Championship certified by FIA title at the first attempt, it’s been quite the year for Alex Dunne.
Winning the title by an eventual 69-point margin over Williams junior Ollie Gray, the Irishman’s performances have earned him attention from the highest levels of the sport, with a recent scouting camp appearance for Ferrari.
We re-cap five key moments from Dunne’s title-winning campaign that helped deliver him to the ultimate prize:
Near-domination from the get-go at Donington
Dunne arrived at the Donington Park season opener as a relatively late addition to the grid, being only confirmed in Hitech GP’s four-car lineup in the week leading up to the event.
But for a stellar lap from McLaren junior Ugo Ugochukwu, Dunne looked to be on course for pole position first time out after blistering pace throughout practice, but ended up a mere 0.022 seconds shy.
Undeterred, the Irish teenager made a lightning start in the opening race, and duly won the first race of the championship’s second-generation era to put down an early marker to the rest of the field.
He repeated the feat from pole position live on ITV4 the following day, but even more impressive was his rise through the field in the reverse grid race.
It began in relatively low-key fashion, as Dunne quietly picked his way through from tenth to third, and then took advantage of squabbling JHR team-mates Joseph Loake and Georgi Dimitrov to move past the former with a daring move at the chicane.
Although he couldn’t quite overhaul Dimitrov in the remaining couple of laps, two wins and a second-place finish certainly threw down a gauntlet for the rest of the field to match.
Chink in the armour? Don’t think so…
The final race of the weekend around Brands Hatch’s Indy circuit, the second meeting of the year, was nothing short of a nightmare for Dunne.
In the ascendency and on pole position, the same position from which he dominated to win the previous day, the smart money was on Dunne to convert it into a fourth win in six races and put clear daylight between himself and the chasing pack in the championship race.
But it was not to be. A slow getaway, a spin at Clearways, an off at Surtees and pitting to replace a wing left him a lap down, from which he nearly took out Ollie Gray whilst trying to un-lap himself at Druids.
If Dunne had felt the pressure, he didn’t show it next time out at Thruxton. Another devastating brace of pole positions set the tone, and despite pressure from Ugochukwu, on both occasions he delivered victory.
With a long season ahead, it sent a real message to the rest of the field that Dunne’s mental equilibrium would not be easy to disrupt.
Find a way to grind out a result
With such a long season – 30 races – in Britain’s FIA Formula 4 series, consistency and bragging points are absolutely vital to sustain a championship challenge. And, on an off-colour weekend for Dunne and his Hitech GP team, that’s exactly what he did.
A mechanical problem in qualifying left Dunne down on performance, and he duly struggled to ninth spot. Crucially, however, that would give him an opportunity in the reverse grid race to salvage a result from an otherwise uphill struggle of a weekend. And, with his car remedied, that’s exactly what he did.
In truth, the task was made a little easier after pole-sitter Dimitrov stalled, handing Dunne a clear run down to Clervaux on the opening lap. But, in a race that typically produces thrills and spills, Dunne kept a cool head, stretching out a four-second winning margin.
The resilience was clear to see, and a hatful of points to limit the damage to his lead in the standings kept the Hitech racer’s momentum going in the crucial middle portion of the year.
Press home every advantage
On the championship’s second visit of the year to Thruxton, the pendulum in the title race looked to be swinging Dunne’s way, but a defiant Gray remained firmly in the race.
But, disaster in qualifying for Gray left him anchored to the back end of the grid, with Dunne taking a now almost-customary double pole position at the front of the pack.
In the absence of his biggest rival, Dunne was in devastating form again. Although Gray’s team-mate Ugo Ugochukwu offered some resistance, the Hitech racer was equal to it, taking another two lights-to-flag victories in Hampshire to leave his status as the championship favourite in little doubt.
Charging through the field at Silverstone
With the title race at boiling point, the two rivals collided in the opening race at Silverstone. Having lost out on pole to Gray, Dunne made a move on the opening lap into Brooklands, with contact made at the apex of Luffield.
Dunne was spun out onto the grass, with Gray surviving to lead, albeit with front wing damage. What followed was a superb charge through the pack from the Irishman, eventually finishing fourth, which became third after the officials penalised Gray to put him behind as a result of the incident.
It was a result that left Gray’s title hopes fading, and delivered Dunne to within touching distance of the coveted crown, which was confirmed at Brands Hatch a fortnight later.