- Simon Paice
Priaulx Stuns On Formula 4 Debut With Superb Brands Hatch Victory
Sebastian Priaulx enjoyed a dream start to his maiden F4 British Championship campaign with a sensational victory in only his second race in the series during the opening rounds of the season at Brands Hatch this past weekend (7/8 April). The win would be the standout result of a hugely impressive debut outing in single-seater competition for the 1st Central supported driver, who took two more top four finishes to end the meeting second in the championship standings. After showing superb pace throughout pre-season testing in his Arden Motorsport machine, Priaulx would carry that speed into the official two free practice sessions on Friday, with a best effort of 46.274 seconds around the 1.2 mile circuit seeing him finish fourth fastest for the day. The Ravenscroft backed racer would encounter a different challenge come qualifying the follow morning though, with a sprinkling of rain just before the session got underway meaning that the field would be greeted by a damp circuit. Priaulx would acclimatise to the tricky conditions in typically strong fashion though, with his two fastest times during the twenty minute session placing him fifth on the grid for race one of the weekend, and sixth for race three. The seventeen year old would start his debut race in the championship in style as a fantastic launch off the line saw him immediately move into fourth place, before he quickly closed on the top three as he lapped as the fastest driver on the circuit. Once he latched onto the rear of the drivers ahead, Priaulx would unfortunately not see a clear opportunity to make further progress present itself, with a mature drive from there ensuring he took the chequered flag in fourth.. That result meant the Guernseyman would start the second race of the day from the same position on the reverse grid, with another brilliant getaway seeing him sweep into third position heading around Paddock Hill Bend for the first time – a move that would prove to be crucial. The two drivers ahead of him would quickly be issued with ten second time penalties for jumping the start, meaning that Priaulx would assume the position of race leader as he ran third on the road, in close proximity to the cars ahead. Maintaining a consistent gap to his closest rivals behind, Priaulx would hold his position to the chequered flag for what he believed was a third place finish, before he entered parc ferme to the welcome surprise that he had in fact secured a superb first victory. With the win naturally filling him with confidence, Priaulx headed into the final race of the weekend on Sunday afternoon hoping to produce another standout performance in front of the live ITV4 television cameras. In tricky wet conditions, the reigning Ginetta Junior vice-champion would produce another great launch off the line to storm into fifth position heading into Paddock Hill Bend, a place he would go on to hold for the first half of the race. Following a short safety car period, Priaulx would capitalise on a mistake from a driver ahead at the restart to slip into fourth place. While he went on to put pressure on the podium contenders in the closing laps, he would have to settle for fourth at the flag. That result capped off a fantastic maiden F4 British Championship meeting for Priaulx, who sits nineteen points off the top of the standings heading into the next three rounds of the championship at Donington Park in three weeks’ time (28/29 April). Sebastian Priaulx: “I really couldn’t have asked for much more from my first weekend in single-seater racing. The F4 British Championship is a really hard series to win in, so I’m immensely proud to have done so in only my second race! “I honestly had no idea that I’d won until I pulled into parc ferme and they directed me to the P1 board. To find out I’d taken my first victory was amazing – it’s something I really didn’t think would happen so soon in the season and hopefully it’s just the start. “That was the highlight of what was a really positive weekend all round. While the changeable conditions in qualifying put us lower on the grid that hoped, I was able to fight through to fourth in both those races which I’m really pleased about. “This weekend was a huge learning curve and to come away from it with the results we did, having kept our nose clean and made no mistakes, is really positive and I’m looking forward to taking this momentum into Donington Park.”
Image from Jakob Ebrey Photography.