Brands Hatch Indy Circuit proved to be an incredibly happy hunting ground for Charlie Robertson over the weekend, 18th/19th May, where the BRDC Formula 4 Championship star secured his maiden race victory in single-seaters and a hat-trick of podiums to climb into second in the driver standings.
Immensely competitive and ultra-quick throughout the weekend, the 16-year-old from Whyteleafe gave his home supporters plenty to cheer with three outstanding race performances and is now just 16 points shy of the series lead.
In addition to his utterly dominant win in the final outing of the weekend, round six, Charlie was also presented with the BRM Rapide Award – for posting the fastest race lap of the event in round four on Saturday – by Mercedes DTM racer, and Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes test driver, Gary Paffett.
Along with the other F4 competitors, he also had the chance to meet 2009 FIA Formula One World Champion Jenson Button who was on-hand at Brands Hatch to cheer on his McLaren team-mate and close friend Paffett in the headlining DTM race.
“It’s been a fantastic weekend, I didn’t think a win would be on the cards after Silverstone”, said the elated HHC Motorsport driver, “To win my first race is fantastic, I concentrated on getting away at the start and then cruised for the last five or six laps. Winning the BRM Rapide Award too is great.”
Beginning the weekend perfectly on Friday, 17th May, by setting the fastest time of the day in free practice, Charlie carried the same form forward into qualifying on Saturday morning and just missed out on a maiden Formula 4 pole position by the smallest of margins – just 0.060 seconds.
Despite making a good getaway from the front row of the grid at the start of round four, he had to slot in behind pole-sitter Jake Dalton through Paddock Hill Bend and the duo spent the remainder of the 25-lap encounter in that order.
Charlie piled on the pressure to the race leader throughout but, as is so often the case at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit, overtaking opportunities proved almost non-existent. Never giving Dalton a moment to relax, the single-seater rookie swarmed all over the back of his rival and set the fastest lap of the race in the process en-route to his first BRDC Formula 4 podium.
“Every single time I got close to him [Dalton], the aero made it impossible to try and make a move”, said Charlie, “He was faster than me in the first sector but I was quicker than him through the last sector. We were both doing pretty much exactly the same lap times throughout the race, it was what it’s always like at Brands Indy – you need the other guy to make a mistake to get a chance.”
With the finishing order from race one determining the starting order for race two, albeit with the top eight reversed, the reigning Ginetta Junior Champion quickly moved into sixth and grabbed fifth with a great move at Paddock Hill Bend on lap three before taking fourth on the following tour.
Following a lengthy Safety Car period between laps six and 13, when racing resumed the Caterham School pupil pressurised former Ginetta rival Sennan Fielding for third and moved ahead with a great pass at Paddock to secure his second podium on the trot.
Round six was, of course, the highlight for Charlie and after sealing pole position by way of having set the fastest lap in the weekend’s opening race, he dominated from the outset. Scorching into a 1.2 second lead at the end of the opening lap, he eventually ended the race over 10 seconds clear and, once again, set the fastest lap to cap an outstanding breakthrough weekend.
Rounds seven, eight and nine of the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 Championship season will take place four weeks from now, over the weekend 15th/16th June, at Snetterton 300 Circuit in Norfolk where the series will run as part of the support package for the Avon Tyres British GT Championship.
Provisional 2013 BRDC Formula 4 Championship Standings (after Rd6):
1st Jake Dalton, 139pts; 2nd Charlie Robertson, 123pts
Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.