James Wharton finished third in the last race of the Mugello weekend and Tuukka Taponen came away with two fifth place finishes.
The penultimate round of the 2023 Italian Formula 4 championship took place at the Mugello circuit. It did not go as well as expected for the Ferrari Driver Academy trio, even if there was a podium finish for James Wharton in Race 3. The Australian finished eighth and tenth respectively in the first two races. “All weekend we struggled a bit for pace,” commented James. “I did my best in qualifying and the three races, but it wasn’t enough. Now we have to focus on the final round in Vallelunga. Unfortunately, I’m no longer in the running for the title but I still want to fight to finish the season as well as possible.” Wharton consolidated his fourth place in the standings on 176.5 points.
Tuukka. Tuukka Taponen’s weekend got off to a strong start, second fastest in qualifying for Race 1, but he lost that advantage at the start when a mistake saw him drop back to outside the top ten. But he confirmed his good pace, finishing fifth in the next two races. “It was a real shame about the mistake in Race 1,” admitted the Finn. “I unfortunately stalled at the start, losing a lot of places. I managed to get back into the points but a ten second penalty dropped me outside the top ten.” Ironically, the penalty was given for jumping the start before he stalled the car and he finished 15th. “The second race wasn’t too bad,” continued Tuukka. “Then in Race 3, I tried to manage the tyres more in the early stages to then attack towards the end, which worked in terms of my pace, but unfortunately, it’s not easy to overtake at Mugello. Overall, I’m reasonably pleased with how the weekend went, apart from Race 1 of course, where I wasted a great opportunity.” Taponen is still fifth in the standings on 143 points.
Aurelia. The Mugello weekend was very tough for Aurelia Nobels. The 16 year old Brazilian finished the first and third races, but had to retire from the second one. “I knew I would pay the price for missing the test session at Mugello the week before the race,” admitted Nobels. “It meant I had to spend free practice working out the set-up. “Unfortunately, we did not have a good qualifying and started all three races from down the back of the field. I got a good start in the first race, but I had to avoid a car in front that had stalled, which cost me a few places. But I still managed to catch the pack and finish 22nd. In Race 2, I was hit on the first lap and my race was immediately over. I got a great start for the final race of the weekend, but overall, it was a difficult race as I had a lot of understeer which meant I could not get higher than 22nd place. I tried to make the most of the weekend to improve my driving and adapting to the car and I think I have made progress, so I can’t wait for Vallelunga.”