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    Italian Formula 4: Taponen on the podium, Wharton in the points

    Maranello 26 giugno 2023

    There were mixed fortunes for the Ferrari Driver Academy students in the fourth round of the Italian series, held at Monza. Tuukka Taponen was third in Race 1, while James Wharton confirmed third place in the classification with three points finishes. Positives too for Aurelia Nobels on her return to the cockpit.

    Mixed feelings for the Ferrari Driver Academy students come the end of the fourth round of the Italian Formula 4 championship, held at Monza. There were some positives, but the overall points haul did not live up to expectations. Wharton took two fifth places and a sixth to score 28 points, moving up to 123.5, which puts him third in the standings. “Our race pace wasn’t great,” commented James. “And so scoring as many points as possible became the main goal for the weekend. But this was definitely not what we were looking for and we will try and recover from that as from the next round at Paul Ricard.” Taponen’s weekend got off to a good start, with a third place in Race 1, but the Finn finished outside the points in the remaining two races, which he was not happy about. “So far this season, my results have not matched my expectations, nor those of the team nor the FDA,” explained Tuukka. “We again had a lot of bad luck this weekend, because while we managed to finish a good third in Race 1, after that I was slightly the victim of circumstances that were hard to avoid. However, I am gaining in experience and now I will try and realise my potential in the second half of the season.” Taponen is now seventh in the standings on 78 points.

    Aurelia. Aurelia was back this weekend, after the unfortunate injury she sustained in Misano and there were plenty of positives, starting with a good qualifying. She then got involved in several midfield scraps in all three races which affected her finishing positions. “It was a difficult weekend, but I was pleased to finish Race 3, confirming that I have made good progress,” she said. “At times, my pace was good and we won the women’s category, which I’m happy about.”

    Race-1. Taponen, Wharton and Nobels lined up fourth, fifth and 19th on the grid. Taponen got away very well to be third at the first corner, with Wharton sixth. Tuukka was third for a long time, slipstreaming Brando Badoer and Arvid Lindblad, while James dropped to seventh. The final third of the race saw a great scrap among the top ten with Taponen running sixth before passing Nicola Lacorte. The Safety Car came out with seven minutes to go when Guido Luchetti crashed and at the restart, Taponen passed Kacper Sztuka at the first chicane to be fifth at the chequered flag. But several drivers were penalised for cutting the chicanes, including first past the flag Ugo Ugochukwu, Lacorte and Ivan Domingues, which promoted Taponen to third and Wharton to sixth. Nobels was 21st following a spin at the first chicane from which she restarted last.

    Race-2. As is usually the case in Monza, there was plenty of overtaking thanks to the slipstream. Effect. Wharton started sixth, Taponen seventh and Nobels ninth. After the early stages, the Safety Car came out after Nobels spun and retired and so the pack closed up. Once the race was on again, Taponen was sixth, while Wharton dropped down the order to 11th, but he managed to get back in the points, while Taponen, who was sixth for a long time, was involved in a last lap collision, when Akshay Bohra slowed suddenly with a technical problem, triggering the crash behind him. Wharton got through the crash zone without any damage and his climb up the order ended in fifth place.

    Race-3. Wharton, Taponen and Nobels started from fifth, seventh and sixteenth on the grid. Tukka’s last race at Monza was compromised after just two croners, as the Finn was hit by another car coming out of the first chicane, which pushed him into the barrier on the inside. He rejoined last and, even though his car was damaged, he managed to get as high as 17th at the flag. Wharton was sixth at the end of the opening lap and was in a group where the positions were changing all the time. James managed to avoid the many collisions, which occurred mainly going into the first chicane and ended the race in fifth place. Nobels also saw the chequered flag to finish 18th at the end of a race in which she performed well.