HILLSPEED IN CONTENTION FOR F4 WINTER TITLE AFTER SNETTERTON SUCCESS
Two utterly dominant race wins for Hillspeed’s Jake Cook at Snetterton 300 Circuit on Sunday, 10th November, put the BRDC Formula 4 Championship rookie within just two points of the Winter Series lead following the opening four rounds of the eight-race campaign.
While the first day of action didn’t go according to plan for the 20-year-old category debutant, he bounced back with a sensational series of performances for the Hathersage team on day two at the Norfolk track.
Claiming pole position for round three some 0.7 seconds clear of his nearest challenger in tricky wet conditions, Cook went on to win the subsequent encounter by 7.5 seconds and posted the fastest lap to ensure another grid-topping start for round four. In the dry final race of the weekend, the Hillspeed racer won by 0.9 seconds to leap into second position in the title chase.
British-based Greek national Dimitris Papanastasiou made his first competitive appearance for four years over the weekend and delivered notable progress over the course of the event. With only 30 laps in the F4 car under his belt prior to the weekend, the 30-year-old racing returnee took a best finish of seventh place during round two on Saturday, 9th November.
“We couldn’t have asked for more on Sunday”, said Hillspeed team principal Richard Ollerenshaw, “Two wins, pole position and the fastest lap in the first race – Jake cleaned-up and he goes away from Snetterton in the best shape. We’d much rather have done it this way around, ending the weekend with two wins, as it means his confidence is as high as it could be ahead of Brands Hatch.
“Saturday wasn’t a good day unfortunately, it should have been equally as good as Sunday turned out to be but the conditions were difficult to call and that put us on the back foot a bit for the races. It all came good, though, and we’re in with a fantastic chance of trying to win the Winter Series title a couple of weeks from now.”
While disappointed to qualify down in seventh position for the opening race of the Winter Series, Cook fought through into fifth position on his Formula 4 debut and then added sixth in round two, having been as high as fourth place until an unfortunate error at Riches on lap six.
After the frustrations of the opening day, where he wasn’t able to show his true pace, Cook focused on a major turn-around in fortunes for Sunday’s action and the Rotherham racer certainly delivered to go into the two-week break before the championship finale on a real high.
Despite slipping to third place at the beginning of round three, the pole-starter moved back into second through the infield and then served up a great pass around the outside of Sennan Fielding at Coram to grab a lead he wouldn’t relinquish.
Fending off Fielding into Riches at the beginning of lap two, the Hillspeed ace was then able to pull away with ease. Opening an advantage of 1.3 seconds by the start of the third tour, Cook went on to win by 7.5 seconds after reeling off fastest lap after fastest lap with a virtuoso performance.
Round four gave the F4 contenders their first dry running of the entire weekend and at the second time of asking Cook made no mistakes from pole. Following a spin for Matteo Ferrer, the Safety Car was deployed in time for the start of lap two and when racing resumed on lap four Cook made an excellent getaway to open an advantage of one second.
Leading by two seconds into the penultimate tour, Cook eased off over the last couple of laps to seal his second win of the day and rocket up the championship table into the Vice-Champion’s placing, closing to within just two points of the Winter Series lead.
Papanastasiou, embarking on a very steep learning curve from the start of the weekend, qualified eighth fastest for round one on Saturday and although slipping to ninth at the start he remained in touch with Norway’s Fredrik Johansen. Unfortunately for Papanastasiou, though, an excursion on the eighth tour brought his first F4 race to an early conclusion.
In round two, the London-based driver ran as high as sixth position early on and although edged back to eighth by the fourth tour the Hillspeed debutant regained seventh place two laps later for his best finish of the weekend.
Again qualifying eighth fastest during the round three session on Sunday morning, Papanastasiou held position off the start and pulled further and further away from Johansen as the race progressed to cap a strong performance. In the final race of the weekend, the Greek driver’s first experience of the Formula 4 car on slick Yokohama tyres, he again finished in eighth position.
“Out of all of the F4 newcomers on the grid this weekend, Dimitris made the largest improvement between testing and the races”, said Ollerenshaw, “He wasn’t able to test on Thursday, so he didn’t have as much preparation as the others, and only got about 30 laps at best on Friday.
“It was very tough out there for him, especially up against people from the F4 main season and drivers like Jake [Cook] from Formula Renault. It was a very steep learning curve but he did a good job and we’re very happy with the progress he made.”
Rounds five, six, seven and eight of the BRDC Formula 4 Winter Series will be contested at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit a fortnight from now, over the weekend 23rd/24th November.
2013 BRDC Formula 4 Winter Series Standings (after Rd4):
2nd Jake Cook, 91pts; 8th Dimitris Papanastasiou, 40pts