German rookies David Schumacher and Leon Köhler have broken through for their maiden open-wheeler race wins, after dominating all three races at Round 3 of the F4UAE Championship powered by Abarth in Dubai this weekend (January 26-27).
Sixteen-year-old Schumacher (#27) only joined the Middle East championship last weekend in Abu Dhabi, where he claimed pole position and four podium finishes at Round 2. This weekend at the Dubai Autodrome, the German driver not only claimed pole position again, but took the Race 2 victory; his first in open-wheeler circuit racing.
While Köhler (#77), who comes to F4UAE after being the CIK-FIA European KZ2 Champion last year, took victory in both Races 1 and 3 on debut for US Racing/Rasgaira Motorsports; the three race wins being the strongest team result in its history of competing in the category.
After racing at Yas Marina Circuit for the last two rounds, the F4UAE Championship moved to the Dubai Autodrome for the first time since last season, running on the 4.290km International Circuit layout.
Collet and Köhler were impressive early standouts in testing, but when it came to qualifying, Schumacher lead the competition; topping the session with a time of 1m38.486s, nearly .3 seconds faster than Dragon Motopark F4’s Charles Weerts (#88) in second.
With three races contested across two days, Schumacher took the lead of Race 1 and was heading towards his maiden victory when Belgium racer Weerts made contact while trying an unsuccessful overtaking manoeuvre. A post-race stewards investigation penalised Weerts, with an instruction for the teenager to start Race 2 from pitlane.
Köhler, who was sitting third at the time, took advantage of the situation and lead for the rest of the 30-minute race, finishing first ahead of Schumacher in second, and Collet in third on debut. The win gave Rasgaira Motorsport its first race victory of the season.
Race 2 started with an inverted top-six grid, with SILBERPFEIL Energy Dubai’s Lucas Petersson (#22) on pole position alongside new teammate Sami Taoufik. Petersson lead into turn one, however Schumacher quickly moved up to second with Dragon Motopark F4’s Amaury Cordeel (#888) into third. Petersson out-braked himself halfway through the first lap which gave Schumacher the lead; he and Cordeel swapped leading leaps mid-race before Schumacher got the upper hand and pulled away from the field.
Moretti and Dragon Motopark F4’s Lucas Alecco Roy (#8) had an early race crash which sidelined both race cars. While Schumacher held on to take the chequered flag ahead of Collet in second, and CRAM Motorsport’s Tom Beckhäuser (#95) in third.
The final race’s grid was determined by the second fastest lap time in qualifying, giving Schumacher the front-row start alongside new-found rival Weerts. Schumacher and Cordeel both stalled on the start and fell to the rear of the field, before the Safety Car was brought out for a collision between Taoufik and Roy. The incident ended both of their races, requiring their cars to be recovered to the paddock, before Weerts led the field on the restart.
Weerts and Köhler battled for the lead, with the German making a clean pass on Weerts who in the process touched wheels with Schumacher, sending the latter off track. The chequered flag was greeted by Köhler, Weerts and Beckhäuser, however a 10-second penalty was given to Weerts and Moretti post-race for passing under safety car.
The final results of Race 3 saw Beckhäuser move up to second place and 15-year-old Cordeel was awarded third place; his first podium result this season.
Robert Cregan, Team Manager of Rasgaira Motorsports: “It’s been the perfect weekend, the drivers have done brilliantly, made very little mistakes and the mechanics did a great job, so it’s been a real team effort this weekend. The drivers are still very young, they’re here to learn, but the racing is a lot more competitive than it was last year which is great for the championship.”
David Schumacher (GER), US Racing/Rasgaira Motorsports (#27): “It was a really tough weekend, but it’s getting better and better to learn the cars each race. The start of Race 2 was very good, but I missed the brake point which let Amaury overtake but I got the lead back. It was not so good to have the crash in Race 1 but you just have to put your head up and move forward, and we got the win so I’m quite happy now.”
Ralf Schumacher, former F1 racer and father of David Schumacher: “It was a strong weekend for both David and Leon, but every race, every start, is important while they’re learning. For sure as a father I’m very proud of David winning the race, he was able to recover from the incidents on track, but that is why they’re here, to gain as much experience as they can. David only started in F4 last weekend but I think he’s doing well.”