Petr Ptacek Jr has taken the lead of the Italian F4 Championship Rookie Cup after securing a pair of category wins at Monza this weekend.
The 15-year-old headed to the Milanese track at something of a disadvantage, having only enjoyed half a day of testing at the venue in pre-season. However, he was immediately up to pace as he put in a strong qualifying performance on the 5.79km track.
After securing P3 for the opening race in the first qualifying session, the second shoot-out looked like it was going to be even more successful for Petr. However, one of his push laps was compromised by a rival’s car spearing off the track ahead of him and Petr’s time loss meant he slipped to P8 and P7 on the grids for Sunday’s pair of 30-minute races.
In Saturday’s first race, Petr suffered his first retirement of his rookie F4 season when his BhaiTech Racing car received heavy rear-end contact from a rival as they broke too late for Turn One.
The impact sent Petr onto two wheels and over the aggressive Monza kerbs, damaging the Monocoque of his car and forcing him to retire from a promising P4.
The Czech driver was frustrated by the way he was forced onto the sidelines, particularly as he felt he was matching the front-running pace.
“I think I would have been close to the podium in the first race,”the Corum Watches-backed driver explained. “It was a shame that one of the other drivers was a bit too optimistic on their brakes and hit me hard. I was angry because I missed out on some vital Rookie Cup points.”
Sunday’s races were more positive for Petr as a good start in the second on-track battle allowed him to claim P6 overall and his second Rookie Cup win of the season – despite a lack of pace in his car.
He then finished the final race of the weekend in P4 as his confidence on the brakes – combined with some of his rivals crashing out – allowed him to quickly move up the order.
However, his attempts to claim a maiden overall podium were curtailed by a number of safety car periods which accounted for a third of the total race distance.
Petr completed his Monza weekend by finished just 0.4sec shy of the podium and setting the fastest lap of the race with a 1:54.732 tour. Despite his undoubted pace, he felt it was important to bring home some points rather than risk his P4 in the pursuit of an overall podium.
“After the disappointment of the first race, and a second race not going entirely how I wanted, I was keen to bring home good points in the third race and move into the top ten in the overall championship,”Petr said.
“I’m happy with my results, but I’m still a little frustrated because I feel the podium was possible. It’s a shame I didn’t get it, but I didn’t want to risk it in the last race.”
The next round of the Italian F4 Championship will be held at Misano on 16-17 June, a track where overtaking is notoriously difficult.