|Luke Browning was crowned the 2020 British F4 champion in a thrilling showdown that was decided in the final race of the season at Brands Hatch last weekend [13-15 November].
Another solid performance in qualifying by Browning saw the Kingsley-based racer take his third and fourth pole positions of the season, securing front row starts for all three season-concluding races alongside championship rival Zak O’Sullivan.
Browning held his nerve against O’Sullivan with a lights-to-flag victory in the first race, while team-mate Roberto Faria recovered to tenth following a strong start from fourth, but later fell victim to contact from James Hedley at Paddock Hill Bend.
Faria’s luck didn’t improve in the second race after contact with Zagazeta in the tricky wet conditions put both of them out and brought out the Safety Car. At the restart Browning jumped from sixth to third with brilliant overtaking moves at Druids, setting his sights on O’Sullivan for second.
O’Sullivan managed to fend off Browning at the chequered flag but was later given a two-second time penalty for overtaking under the safety car, which promoted Browning to second in the final result.
In the ITV4-televised season finale, Browning started from pole but spun on oil on the opening lap at Clark Curve, dropping him down to last and crucially out of championship contention.
With the conditions starting to worsen Browning charged through the field, getting up to tenth before the red flag came out on safety grounds, with the entire field on slick tyres prior to the stoppage.
At this stage O’Sullivan was leading the race after swapping positions with team mate Christian Mansell. But, with less than 75% of the race distance completed, only half points were awarded as per the regulations, which meant Browning took the British F4 championship by four points from O’Sullivan.
Faria finished the race in fourth place and comes away from the weekend with a solid top five position, despite unlucky outings in the first two races.
His efforts went a long way to securing the runner-up spot in a hard-fought Teams Cup battle for Daventry-based Fortec, a strong leap forward for the team from last season.
The focus now shifts to winter testing, before another British F4 campaign starts back at Brands Hatch on 3-4 April, 2021.
Oliver Dutton, F4 Team Manager said:
“I’m absolutely over the moon for Luke – our 2020 British Formula 4 champion! He’s been a class act all season, and he’s thoroughly deserved his moment in the spotlight.
“Obviously, in an ideal world, you’d want it resolved on the track, but the fact is conditions were getting increasingly dangerous, and safety has to come first.
“The statistics speak for themselves – seven victories, four pole positions and sixteen podiums – he’s a very worthy champion, and we’re very excited to see where his career goes next.
“Six of those victories have been from the front of the field based on his qualifying position too, so it’s clear to see he’s been one of the real forces out there on track all year long.
“Roberto just didn’t get the rub of the green this weekend; he drove very well, and definitely had a shout of getting pole position. His race pace deserved more, but contact on two occasions prevented him from showing that to the full.
“His pace in the wet was very strong, which is something we’ve been working on recently, so it’s great to see that progression. We’re very excited about his future.
“Thanks to him for his efforts, and to the entire team – we did it!”
Roberto Faria (#7) said:
“It’s been a challenging weekend, but more importantly, I’m delighted for the entire team after securing the championship.
“We’ve been up there in terms of pace and adapting back to the F4 car was very straightforward but contact in the first two races really limited what we were able to achieve.
“It was good to be able to race up at the front in race three until the rain came, and I’m very happy to have been a part of such a historic weekend for the team.
“They really are the best in the business, so it’s a really fitting reward for their hard work and effort this season.”
Luke Browning (#11) said:
“I can’t describe the emotions I’m going through – it’s incredible to win the British Formula 4 title, and I’m absolutely ecstatic. It’s been a challenging year, the level of competition has been superb, so to come out on top is very satisfying.
“I thought I’d lost it, in that final race. There was some oil down on the last corner, and I had to floor it to keep the car from beaching in the gravel, otherwise I knew my race would have been over. From that point, I was just trying to recover as high as I could to try and get where I needed to be to take the title.
“When the rain came down and the race was red-flagged, I thought that was it. I felt like I was at the bottom of the world, I went back to the awning thinking I’d finished runner-up, but then one of the guys came back and told me it was half points, and that we’d done it.
“I can’t begin to explain the emotions I went through in that moment, but it’s been a day – and a season – I’ll always keep close to me, and a huge thanks to the entire team at Fortec Motorsport.
“They’ve prepared a fantastic car for me, week in, week out, and brought me on so much as a driver across the year. If you’re looking for a winning environment, it doesn’t get much better than this!”