Red Bull Ring provided PREMA Powerteam with a challenging weekend as the team lined up for round 5 of the Italian Formula 4 Championship. The operation fielded six cars and eventually secured two podium finishes at the Austrian venue. Sebastian Montoya claimed third place in the opening race, while Kirill Smal took P3 in the final one after two top-4 finishes that made him regain confidence and momentum.
Montoya faced tough luck in races 2 and 3. The Colombian-American, despite logging some highly competitive lap times, was clipped by another driver in race 2 and suffered from a slow pit stop in the weather-hit first part of race 3. With most cars starting on slicks, the rain quickly started to fall hard, and many drivers had to come in, which created a complicated situation in the pit lane.
While he was affected by the same situation, also being at his first career start with the wet, Andrea Kimi Antonelli experienced a consistent weekend all-around. The Italian secured the rookie win in the dry race 1 and fought hard in the remaining two heats, with remarkable runs in all conditions.
Charlie Wurz also went twice on the rookie podium, with a promising double top-8 overall, which highlighted his consistent improvement. On the other hand, both Conrad Laursen and Hamda Al Qubaisi paid the price of some qualifying woes and couldn't make it to the top-10 despite showing positive potential.
# 2 – Charlie Wurz
"We struggled a bit at the start of the weekend, but the team and I worked really hard from the FPs to qualy and then through to the races to find the issues and work on my driving. We did a good job with the mechanics and my engineer until late Saturday night to change the car, and it helped us for the remaining races. We got two rookie podiums, which is always great, and gained lots of valuable experience for next year. I also want to thank the team for the good strategy calls. I'm happy with the results."
# 6 – Sebastian Montoya
"Just a tough weekend overall, bad luck everywhere. In qualifying 1 we did a good job putting the lap together, while in qualy 2, I made a little mistake. In race 1, I got a good start and took the lead, opened up a gap but had to avoid a collision and ended up in P3. In race 2, I had a good start and went up to P3, but the driver behind made a mistake and broke my front left. In race 3, we came in for an early pit-stop. We didn't have a good pit, and I came out towards the back of the field. We showed the pace we had all year and that we worked on, but it was a frustrating weekend, with tough luck. We'll see how it goes in the next one."
# 7 – Kirill Smal
"I haven't been on the podium for a while, so it's great to be back. It was a good weekend for us after Imola where we didn't score any points due to some issues with me, so I'm really really pleased that I ended every race in the top-5 and finished on a high with the podium in tough conditions for everyone. In race 1, we were aiming for something more than P4, but it was quite difficult to overtake. In race 2, we got another P4 and then a great result in race 3. I really want to thank the guys for the pit stop. The podium came mainly because of them."
# 20 – Conrad Laursen
"We got some brake issues in qualifying, which made it very difficult and we ended up far in the field. We fixed it for the races, but by then we were starting a long way down. To be honest, the first two dry races were quite alright, it's really hard to overtake so I tried to make the best of it. Then in the last race which was in the rain, I had a lot of speed in the first couple of laps, but after the first safety car, I didn't manage to keep the heat in the tyres. I struggled a bit and lost some positions. Quite a tough weekend, but we'll come back at Mugello."
# 88 – Hamda Al Qubaisi
"I think it was a really complicated weekend from the beginning. Having the first free practice early in the morning with a really cold track didn't make me confident with the car and the handling. Qualy wasn't the best and for the races, it was very difficult to move forward. In race 1, I had a flatspot from qualy that made it quite complicated. In race 2, we had a good pace and I was able to run in the top-15, but I got hit by another driver and got a puncture so I couldn't finish. Race 3 with the weather conditions was again really complicated. In the end, a guy in front of me spun and I couldn't avoid him which cost me many positions. I was just trying to get used to the track, I was improving lap by lap but I couldn't put out my best potential. I think I can definitely do much better in the next round."
#99 – Kimi Antonelli
"It was a good debut race and I'm happy with that. I definitely learned a lot and it was a positive experience even though I still have to work on myself, and we faced some engine power issues. Race 1 went well, it was my first experience among other drivers and I also enjoyed Race 3. While we didn't have a fast pit-stop and I came back to the track last, we were really fast and we managed a great comeback."