FF1600 teams reject new series format
“Title fight will be close after F4 punch-up”
BRSCC Formula Ford 1600 National Championship organisers have discussed reducing the championship to four festival-style rounds next season, a move that has been panned by teams.
The championship, which operates across both the Post ’89 and Pre ’90 classes, currently runs across eight rounds with each featuring a double-header race format.
However, a new proposal has been put forward by the new Formula Ford Focus Group, which has tabled a four-round format with each round being modelled on knockout events such as the Formula Ford Festival or Walter Hayes Trophy, which themselves could form two of the four rounds.
The idea would allow drivers and teams to compete in regional FF1600 series, and then come together to fight it out for the National title.
Focus Group chairman Ian Wolfenden said: “I was testing the water [with the idea]. Our following at the festivals is huge and by making our calendar revolve around it we could have a calendar of festivals and draw on that following.
“I fully understand why for some teams it doesn’t make sense for them but when you look at the National Pre ’90 field and see five regular competitors and some round-by-round entrants we need to do something different.”
The idea has received the thumbs down from some top team bosses. Cliff Dempsey, whose eponymous team runs multiple cars, said: “Four rounds would kill Formula Ford. I’d leave if that happened. No-one would buy a seat or a new car if there’s only four rounds and we should be adding not taking away.”
Oldfield Motorsport boss James Oldfield added the format could work for privateer entries. He said: “The idea doesn’t work for me. Customers won’t want to race just four rounds so it doesn’t make sense commercially.
“I know though for some that enter themselves and run themselves it could work. There’s a huge range of drivers here and it’s not dominated by any kind. We need to ensure there is balance.”
It wasn’t quite Nelson Piquet on Eliseo Salazar after their collision in the 1982 German Grand Prix, but Petru Florescu’s brief brawl with Devlin Defrancesco last weekend is certainly a significant punch-up.
It’s a rare sight to see such raw emotion from a driver in the modern era but as soon as Florescu clambered out of his Carlin car after Defrancesco squeezed him a bit too much on the pit straight there was no doubting what would happen next.
In full view of the ITV cameras, the Romanian marched over to Defrancesco and the punches flew.
Now, it was bad enough that two team-mates had collided – although it has happened already this year in F4 (think James Pull tipping Max Fewtrell into a roll at Thruxton and Arden duo Rafael Martins and Luis Leeds taking each other out when fighting for the lead at Snetterton). But public fisticuffs is an absolute no-no. Especially as Defrancesco took full blame and later apologised.
In one moment of madness Florescu pressed the self-destruct button on his title hopes. His subsequent exclusion from the meeting was fully justified and meant his impressive race one victory was erased from the records.
Instead of leaving Scotland with, potentially, an increased points lead he now finds himself down in sixth in the standings.
While he’s still far from out of contention, the incident has set up a fascinating title showdown.
Just nine races remain – but that’s still 225 points up for grabs – and any one of the top six is capable of claiming the crown.
Fewtrell now has the advantage but is only 30 points clear of Florescu in sixth, with Leeds, Defrancesco, Sennan Fielding and Pull all in between.
Picking a winner from that bunch is a near impossible task.
Fewtrell has proven to be the most consistent with more podiums than anyone else (10) but has taken just one win. Leeds has the support of Dr Helmut Marko/red Bull and is coming on strong.
Defrancesco had a poor start to the season, while Fielding has been inconsistent but has the experience to triumph. Pull has yet to win in the series but remains in the mix while Florescu still has the most wins of them all.
It has all the hallmarks of going down to the wire at Brands Hatch in October.
That could be one good thing to emerge from an incident that shouldn’t have a place in motorsport.
Fielding is one of six drivers in contention