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Sexta, 02 Junho 2023 07:58 | Actualizado em Segunda, 27 Maio 2024 07:10

With the French event at Paul Ricard scheduled for July, the Belgian leg at Spa Francorchamps represented one of the two outings outside its home country for the FIA-certified Italian F4 Championship. James Wharton was eagerly awaiting this meeting to confirm that he is indeed one of the title contenders in this extremely competitive 2023 season. On this circuit nicknamed "the Ardennes toboggan", and considered to be the most beautiful in the world, the young Australian hopeful from the Ferrari Driver Academy did not disappoint. He set the fastest time in both Qualifying sessions and won the first two races of the meeting with panache. His 3rd place in Race 3 gave him a significant number of points in the overall standings, where he drastically reduced the gap to the leader.

Somewhat frustrated by his start to the Championship, which nevertheless saw him finish on the podium twice, James Wharton had not lost his confidence, nor that of the team - on the contrary... "I need to put everything together to get pole position in Qualifying, so that I can aim for victory more easily in the races," he had declared during the previous round at Misano. At Spa Francorchamps, he put his plan into action and achieved his objective. Already the fastest driver in the two Free Practice sessions, he maintained the same momentum in the two Qualifying sessions.

"At Spa Francorchamps, the track is 7km long, which is the longest track of the season. The times are over 2:20 and I knew I didn't have to wait too long to put in a good lap. I was able to exploit the precise moment when the tyres gave their maximum efficiency and that resulted in pole position for Race 1. I repeated more or less the same strategy for the second Qualifying session and that resulted in a second pole position for Race 2. The work done with the Prema Racing team really paid off. My only slight regret is that I didn't set a second time that was close enough to the first, as it was this that was taken into account to define the starting grid for Race 3, in which I started 3rd this time."

A virtually identical scenario unfolded in the first two races, with James Wharton dominant during the start phases and a solid performance at the head of the race with a fastest lap to his credit in Race 2. "It wasn't that simple," cautioned the All Road Management driver. "There were a number of incidents in the field, which led to several neutralisations and even a red flag. Every time I managed to open up a gap, my advantage was wiped out! I also had to deal with the restarts. In the end, I didn't make any mistakes and I was happy to have won Race 1 again and to have confirmed that in Race 2. This competitiveness bodes well for the rest of the season.”

In Race 3, the gaps between the top three remained minute. "Several times, I found myself in a position to move up to 2nd place and I even think that a third victory was possible. I pushed hard, but my rivals defended their position perfectly. On the following laps, I preferred to secure 3rd place, which allowed me to move up to 3rd in the Championship with a gap that had narrowed considerably on the top two. I'll have some excellent memories of this trip to Belgium. The circuit is great, the weather was excellent and these three podiums and two wins came at just the right time. We'll just have to stay focused if we're to put in another performance like this," concluded the Motorsport Australia-supported driver.


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