The Italian squad headed to Monza for the last round of the Italian F4 Championship this weekend. Coming into the last event of the 2017 calendar Marcus Armstrong sat 53 points ahead of his nearest rival Job Van Uitert in the drivers Championship.
A strong performance in free practice set Enzo Fittipaldi and Marcus Armstrong up for their back-to-back qualifying session later in the afternoon. Within a few minutes of the first session Armstrong flew into provisional pole for a brief moment before Job Van Uitert stole the position from the Kiwi. However the Ferrari Academy Driver quickly responded putting in a superb lap time of 1:53.741 to take pole for Race 1. The second session was unfortunate for Armstrong as he had to stop due to a technical issue. Enzo Fittipaldi managed two positive top ten starts, P8 for Race 1 and P5 for Sunday’s races.
As the lights disappeared Marcus Armstrong took off from pole and held the lead. A few laps passed until a safety car was called. Armstrong lost the lead at the restart to Artem Petrov as Fittipaldi fell four positions having got into P5 in the early stages of the race. It was a fight till the end for P2 between Marcus Armstrong, Sebastian Fernandez Wahbeh, Lorenzo Colombo and Van Uitert as the four rivals rotated positions corner by corner. It was Prema Theodore driver Armstrong who came out on top, crossing the line in P2 and collecting enough points to claim the 2017 Italian F4 Driver Championship! As much as Enzo Fittipaldi tried, he was unable to catch P8 and in turn the Brazilian settled for P9.
The second race of the weekend saw Enzo Fittipaldi start from P5. The Brazilian held his position and quickly made it up into P3, but drama struck as contact was made with one of his rivals forcing him to retire in the first half of the race. His teammate and freshly crowned champion Armstrong started at the back of the grid after having technical issues in qualifying. The Kiwi proved his phenomenal talent as he begun to pass each of his rivals one-by-one gaining a total of 15 places as he crossed the line just shy of a podium in P4!
The lights illuminated for the last time this season with Armstrong in P4 and Fittipaldi in P5. It was a tense opening lap with the top six cars side by side! Armstrong quickly took the lead from Petrov before facing the first safety car. Although coming under pressure from the Russian, Armstrong kept his cool maintaining the lead. Once another safety car arose Enzo Fittipaldi got caught in a five car battle at the restart but was able to hold onto P7 at the end of race 3. Marcus Armstrong took the chequered flag to finish this year in style with one final win!
This is the third Driver Championship secured by Prema Theodore Racing in the 2017 campaign, plus two Team Championships! The next focus for the team will be in four weeks time at the prestigious Macau Grand Prix 16th-19th November.
Teddy Yip commented:
“I am so pleased to be able to congratulate Marcus on his well deserved championship. He has proven himself to truly be a top class professional and one to watch in the next few years. As well, this goes to show the hard work and painstaking preparation by the whole team. They deserve every bit of this title and the accolades that go with it.”
# 9 – Marcus Armstrong
“Good weekend in Monza. Finally, we wrapped up the championship after a very eventful season. I’m glad that I can repay my crew for all the effort they put in this year! Race 3 was also a fun race for me. We had nothing to lose, we won it but unfortunately got given a 25-second penalty for something we don’t agree with. All in all, a fantastic weekend for everyone. I want to give a big thank you to my Ferrari Driver Academy guys. The support has been awesome. It’s fantastic to bring home another championship for the team.”
# 74 – Enzo Fittipaldi
“This race weekend I learned a lot about the techniques and strategies you have to use during the races here in Monza. You had to be very precise when making a decision and when to overtake. It was a good end to the season. I am really looking forward to next season!”