Petr Ptacek Jr brought his Rookie Cup-winning campaign in the 2018 Italian Formula 4 Championship to a stylish conclusion this weekend as he mastered treacherous weather conditions to secure another pair of podiums at the Mugello circuit.
The 16-year-old, who secured the rookie crown for single-seater graduates with an event to spare, put a pair of frustrating qualifying sessions firmly behind him when racing got underway on Saturday afternoon.
“I had some problems with tyre vibration and oversteer during Q1 and then in Q2 one of my laps was compromised by another driver before the Safety Car came out,” Petr explained. “It wasn’t a great start to the weekend but that can happen in motorsport.”
Determined to end his season positively, Petr showed the kind of form in Race 1 that has made him one of the standout F4 drivers during 2018.
Starting from P11 on the grid, the BhaiTech Racing driver pulled off a string of impressive overtaking manoeuvres on the 5.25km circuit as he progressed to P6 overall at the chequered flag and claimed P2 in the rookie category.
The second rain-soaked race proved to be frustratingly short for Petr. With his focus set on moving up from his P15 grid slot, the Corum Watches-supported driver was cruelly eliminated by a rival’s spinning car.
“There was nothing I could do,” he said. “One second I was racing for position and the next I had been hit hard from the side by another car. The impact broke the gearbox and suspension. My race was finished.
Petr was keen to make amends in the final rain-lashed race of his maiden F4 season on Sunday afternoon and that’s exactly what he did.
Starting from P12, and with visibility almost zero, he cleverly vaulted up to P4 after only a handful of laps and almost took P3 just before the Safety Car was deployed.
Unfortunately, with the rain continuing to fall, the remaining race time was completed in formation and Petr had to be content with P4 at the finish, a position that gave him his 17th Rookie Cup podium of the year.
With Mugello bringing the curtain down on Petr’s first season of single-seater racing, the Czech driver is pleased with his Rookie Cup title success, 11 rookie wins, six podiums, four fastest laps and P5 in the overall F4 standings.
He said: “I think my season has been good and I’m pleased with what I achieved with my amazing BhaiTech team. Now it’s time to reflect for a little while and then think about what’s going to be happening next year. I’m hugely excited about the future.”