Sennan Fielding’s F4 British Championship certified by FIA - powered by Ford season has become a rollercoaster ride of breath-taking highs and the ultimate lows but still he is managing to advance steadily up the Championship points table.
The reason why the Chesterfield racer had such a lack-lustre time at Oulton Park’s F4 rounds became apparent in testing for the next meeting, Croft, when his turbocharger failed spectacularly: evidently it had been on its last legs over the previous weekend.
Disappointingly, not only was valuable testing track-time lost, but the replacement engine turned out to be ‘off par’ too, being 4 mph slower than the rest of the field.
Adding to the black clouds surrounding Fielding, in Croft’s round 13 race he was forced to retire due to damage to his car: non-scoring dropping him to championship 6th spot.
However, black clouds of rain falling the next day for round 14 levelled the field for him in the worsening conditions.
As the track became increasingly slippery it allowed Fielding to show his true mettle and car control by battling back through from 14th to grab 6th place down the main straight with three laps remaining.
As the rain continued for round 15, Fielding fared even better managing one place higher, finishing 5th, by showcasing his talent in the wet expertly scything his way through the field.
The loss of track time, and low top speed affecting his vital qualifying meant Fielding only added 24 points to his championship tally – come season end every single point will be crucial in the title fight.
For the next meeting at Snetterton it was third-time lucky when it came to engines and Fielding really made the most of it getting JHR Developments’ weekend off to a flying start by topping the times in testing by over two tenths of a second, with the majority of the field covered by less than a second.
The 20 year-old racer looked at ease around the Snetterton 300 circuit giving a shot in the arm to his quest for the F4 series title.
Said Fielding: “The Ford EcoBoost engine feels very good and the car extremely quick, so that gives me a lot of confidence. We are quick on old and new tyres which gives us a lot of confidence for the weekend.”
Proving it to be correct, the fine testing form was translated into an emphatic pole position and lights to flag victory at Snetterton’s round 16.
Clearly in the ascendancy around the three mile Norfolk track, it was a flawless Fielding as he converted pole position into victory with style in a commanding third win of the season for him and the JHR Developments team.
Although having to cope with two safety car restarts, each time Fielding showed his experience by leaving the rest of the field trailing in his wake, when the safety car peeled off into the pits.
Remaining calm and composed out front, Fielding kept his pursuers at bay until the chequered flag for win number three of the season.
Said a delighted Fielding: “It was a great restart. The second one was a little bit more difficult because the guys behind knew what I would likely do so I tried to mix it up a little bit. It was good to get the first win of the weekend and we need to carry this on!”
Bagging a few more points with 5th place in round 17 giving him 5th in the Championship, led up to Fielding’s pole position in the Snetterton weekend’s final British F4 race, round 18.
Showing that he really had the bit between his teeth, Fielding converted pole position into his fourth win of the season by once again reeled off another untouchable lights to flag victory in round 18.
The double race winner now in Championship-4th spot commented: “I had a great first lap and I was hoping to build a good lead, but when the gap got under a second the tow was big down the straights. I worked out where Devlin DeFrancesco was quicker and where I was quicker and used that to my advantage.
“It was a great race and it’s been a great weekend for us. The JHR team have done a fantastic job and a massive thanks to Amigos for making it possible.”
If he was able to keep up this level of performance at the next round, Knockhill, then the flying Fielding should certainly break the Carlin team’s stranglehold on the Championship.
Unfortunately, on the opening lap at the Scottish circuit, Fielding’s round 19 was brought to a premature end at Taylor’s Hairpin being the innocent victim of an incident that pitched his car through the air, causing massive and costly suspension damage.
This hurt his round 20 performance as he had to start from the back of the grid, but Fielding still fought his way up to an 8th-place finish, tailed by JHR teammate Billy Monger in a race chequered-flagged early due to two of the top-3 drivers from the Carlin team having a ‘contretemps’ and resolving the situation with fisticuffs on the edge of the track…
It was a more profitable race to round 21, with a cracking battle over 4th place emerging, with Fielding successfully fending off Max Fewtrell, Rafael Martins and James Pull.
Commented Fielding: “We made quite a drastic change to the car before the race which didn’t seem to work so I did well to get fourth. Also, we could have capitalised more on what happened to other title rivals: I think this is one of those weekends you just have to brush under the carpet.”
While still 4th in the Championship, just 22 points off the top spot, Fielding is definitely a serious contender for the title, although others have closed-up behind him to add to the pressure.