Advantage Krütten: P3 and two rookie wins take Niklas Krütten back to top of class
Krütten had injured his hand on the previous weekend at Monza, but despite that literal handicap, he went on to deliver a flawless performance. In all three races, he impressed by virtue of his tenacity in one-on-one situations, his racing intelligence and a willingness to battle his way through the field even from the least auspicious of grid positions.
In Race 3, all of these qualities came to the fore. From second on the grid, Krütten got past the pole-sitter with one of his characteristic quickfire starts. Shortly thereafter, two of the Van Amersfoort squad got on his tail, both of them benefiting from formula racing experience and superbly prepared cars. Krütten initially defended the lead with dogged determination, but after a few laps, the two pursuers made optimum use of slipstream to move into the two lead positions. But there was no way that the German teenager was going to surrender third place. Not even when two opponents - including the current ADAC Formula 4 championship leader - put pressure on him. Krütten refused to be overawed, defending his position resolutely but fairly. The reward for his endeavour was podium finish number two and rookie victory number five. And to cap it all, it came on the track that the 15-year-old had declared to be his favourite.
The basis for the gratifying outcome to the weekend was laid in the second race. From grid position 14, he always had a Top Ten finish in his sights. In the course of the 30-minute race, everything went even better than plan as he crossed the finish line in seventh and as rookie winner. Because of the reverse grid rule, Krütten secured the bonus of a P2 start in the final race. Earlier on Saturday, he had managed only a P12 in the general class after some overly optimistic attempts by a couple of opponents.
Krütten has a very full diary at the moment and consequently no time to relax. Next weekend (15th 17th June), he and BWT Mücke Motorsport are back in Italy for the equivalent national series. The fourth round of the 2018 Formula 4 Italian Championship will be contested at the MotoGP Misano circuit.
Four questions for Niklas Krütten You're on a roll at the moment. How much does your P3 finish in the last race mean to you?
It means a lot. The third race was kind of liberating. We had good race pace, and with the rookie win, I have now extended my lead over David in the classification to 13 points. Once again, I got off to a really good start and immediately went into the lead. Unfortunately, the two Van Amersfoorts were too fast. Quite apart from the fact that I'm delighted with third place, it is obviously really cool to have held off the rest of the field, including the championship leader.
The 2018 ADAC Formula 4 season has now reached the halfway point and you're well on course to achieving your personal target of the Best Rookie title...
Yes, it's going really well. But I'm also aware of how quickly the situation can change. All it takes is one DNF for me and a win for my closest pursuer, and a big points gap opens up. I'm very happy to have made five podium appearances as Best Rookie. Sure, my biggest rival David Schumacher has a big name and all eyes are on him. The fact that I am ahead of him in the standings shows that I must have been doing something right so far.
You are currently being showered with praise from all directions - from your team, the fans and, most recently, the tannoy announcer at the Red Bull Ring. Does that affect you?
I am essentially open to feedback of any kind, be it positive or negative. As a racing driver, it's vital that you communicate and interact with your engineers and mechanics in the team. But that is a mutual process. After all, it's me sitting in the car, and I can now pretty much understand what it's doing and why. And for the encouragement from fans, friends and the track announcer too, I am very grateful.
At Monza, your team-mate won his first race after a great qualifying session. Are you planning to get your own back at Misano next weekend?
In Italian Formula 4, just like in the German series, it is essential to qualify in the Top Ten if possible. That's what Monza showed when my team-mate William won from the great starting position he secured for himself in qualifying. So I'm sure that the first race win is only a matter of time for me. Maybe next weekend in Misano. I will do my best, as always.