Matteo Nannini ends the Abu Dhabi round on top, having scored two victories and a podium finish out of four micro-races. The Italian driver under the flag of the Xcel Motorsport team imposed himself as the F4 UAE championship leader back in Dubai at the inaugural event, and managed to confirm his results at Yas Marina as well.
The 15-year-old has displayed uncanny competitiveness thus far, combined with sheer speed and cold blood, through thick and thin. Despite a number of technical issues on Friday morning, Nannini and the team bounced back for qualifying, where he grabbed P2 right behind his rival Joshua Durksen. The moment of truth came with Race 1, Nannini’s maiden night race. The Italian successfully capitalised on Durksen’s mistake at the start, gaining the lead and comfortably managing the race at the front, even after a 3-lap Safety Car, which was brought out following Gohler’s shunt on the barriers. Hence, he opened the Abu Dhabi event with a win, making his intentions extremely clear.
Per the regulations, the drivers have to face the dreaded reverted grid system in Race 2. Therefore, Matteo Nannini started from P6, but his recovery came soon enough. At the first corner he had already caught up to P3 on used tyres, which made his deed even more valuable. The Italian crossed the line in P4, but was later handed P3 from the race direction, which intervened to apply a 5-sec penalty on Lucas Roy (P2)’s time, who cut the chicane to finalise and overtake and did not return the position.
The hardest struggle came along in Race 3, as Nannini started from P2 but stalled on the grid once the lights went out. The Italian had to restart his race from scratch, overtake after overtake, fastest lap by fastest lap, and managed to resurrect to P5. Through his hard-fought battle and this important result, he limited the damage looking towards the championship standings, as his main rival Durksen picked up the win.
However, Nannini made up for it through his final effort in Race 4. Owing to a flawless start from the front row, the Italian wrestled his way to the lead and opened up a gap from the very beginning. Halfway through the race, his steering wheel started becoming loose and, as the issue intensified, Nannini made the most of the advantage he had built on the opposition. The Italian handled the problem very well, which earned him his 3rd overall success in the series, and the second at Yas Marina.
The championship standings now see him as the leader once again with 146 points, having kept unchanged his 4-point advantage on Durksen. The two shared the same results in the second round, becoming the only multiple race winners so far in the series. Lucas Roy is currently third in the standings, but finds himself over 20 points behind the leader, which is slowly turning the title hustle into a singles match between Xcel’s Nannini and Muecke Motorsport’s Durksen.
Up next we are moving back to Dubai for the third round of the championship, which will be taking place Feb 14th- 16th.