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Terça, 25 Abril 2023 18:08 | Actualizado em Terça, 21 Maio 2024 20:30

2023 UAE F4 Champion James Wharton arrived at the 4,909 metre Enzo and Dino Ferrari Autodromo in Imola with lofty goals, at the first of seven events in the Italian Formula 4 Championship from 20th-23rd April. The young Australian hopeful from the Ferrari Driver Academy was not able to exploit his competitiveness to the full and had to be satisfied with 5th place and the fastest lap in one of the three races of the meeting.

Happy to be back in the Italian F4 Championship paddock and in his Prema Racing Tatuus car, James Wharton immediately placed himself among the favourites in Thursday's private tests, finishing P3 twice and P1 once. He remained in the top group in both Free Practice sessions, setting the stage for a successful official Qualifying session. To his dismay, the Motorsport Australia-backed driver who started in Group 1 only finished P6. "Honestly, I was really hoping for a better result, but it didn't turn out the way I hoped," he lamented.

7th on the grid for Race 1 (Groups B vs. C), James was very incisive in the opening laps. He overtook two drivers and set the provisional fastest lap shortly before the halfway mark. Very close to taking P4, the All Road Management driver was unfortunately involved in a collision. A cruel disappointment!

Highs and lows

The next morning in Race 2 (Groups A vs. C), his excellent start enabled him to gain a few positions, but a red flag forced the race director to restart. James was still able to gain positions during the first few laps, as well as putting in some good laps. This time, no incident disrupted his race, which finished in 5th position.

But the two races added up and James Wharton only ended up 12th on the starting grid for the final race, which proved to be a tricky one for the Australian. "The Qualifying session definitely had a negative impact on my weekend. I had to adopt an offensive strategy to get back up and use the two sets of Pirelli tyres we have at our disposal quickly. As a result, I was not able to perform as well in this last race. The tyre wear was starting to show and I found it impossible to move back up, especially on this Imola circuit which is not really conducive to overtaking."

"Of course, I am disappointed to have scored only 10 points in the whole meeting. But I have to remember that I was one of the fastest drivers in the Saturday and Sunday morning races. The aim is to build on the high level of performance that I and the team have achieved at the next race in May at Misano.”

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