Niklas Krütten is best newcomer of 2018 in ADAC Formula 4

September 2018
Niklas Kruetten
There was plenty of excitement in the run-up to the season finale of the ADAC Formula 4 at the Hockenheimring. The winner in the drivers' standings had already been decided ahead of time, but the competition to determine the champion in the special Rookie classification was still wide open. 15-year-old BWT Mücke Motorsport driver Niklas Krütten was one of the main contenders to win the Rookie classification. While he may not have done enough in the end to win the Rookie title, he finished eighth in the overall standings thanks to better results in general and consequently, is the best newcomer this year in the ADAC formula racing series. He achieved something that no other rookie has managed to do this season, take a race win and a total of three podium finishes in the overall standings.

25,000 spectators came through the gates over the weekend to watch the big showdown and got to see three action-packed races full of exciting battles and ups and downs. Krütten, though, struggled as a result of technical problems just as he did last time out in the last race of the Italian Formula 4 series at Vallelunga.

Young talent Krütten was also a bit unlucky in qualifying. As the track dried out, lap times suddenly improved. His luck was out with timing in both qualifying sessions, as he was the first driver to see the chequered flag, which left his rivals with the chance to make an additional run in conditions that were continually improving. Consequently, the grid positions for the BWT Mücke Motorsport driver in the first two races, P14 and P13, were tricky.

In both races, however, Krütten extracted the maximum from his car once again, moving up seven positions in just the first race. Toward the end, though, the race director handed him a drive-through penalty, and he fell back to twelfth place. He had more luck catching up in the second race. Starting from 13th place, he gained a lot of ground once more and crossed the finish line in eighth place but still lost the Rookie title to his main rival due to the drive-through penalty. Krütten was in pole position in the last race because of Race 3's reversed grid. Making a great start as usual, he was able to defend his lead. However, the technical defect and lack of top speed on the straights ultimately meant that he was unable to hang on to P1, and he finished the race in seventh place. However, none of the other drivers were able take the place as Best Rookie of 2018 in the overall standings away from him.

The finale in the Italian Formula 4 is next up on the schedule for Krütten and Team BWT Mücke Motorsport before they head off on a well deserved winter break. The last race in what has been a long season will get underway at Mugello during the weekend of 26th - 28th October.  

Four questions for Niklas Krütten

Niklas, unfortunately, you couldn't take the title win in the Rookie classification...
That is obviously a huge disappointment. I was consistent and fast this year. Unfortunately, one or two small things happened that caused me to miss out on the Rookie title in the end. It's not easy for me to understand at this moment in time, so soon after the event, how you can be the top Rookie in the standings, and yet, fail to secure the title in the special Rookie classification. Ultimately, I want to be ahead everywhere. When all said and done, I was the only rookie to take three podiums overall, including an overall victory in my home fixture this year at the Nürburgring. That means a lot to me and shows that my team and I have done pretty much everything right this season.

How did your weekend go?
Unfortunately, my problems began early on in qualifying. I was a bit unlucky with timing and was one of the first to see the chequered flag in both sessions. Times improve considerably on every lap when the track is steadily drying out, so I missed out on the last lap. I also struggled to get my tyres up to temperature. I had a superb scrap in the first race with Lirim Zendeli, who won this year's overall classification. The race director decided that I'd broken the rules while battling him, even though I didn't turn in and there was no contact. I respect his decision, even though I find it a bit harsh. The drive-through penalty ultimately ruined my charge and destroyed my chances of winning the Rookie title.

Things went better in the second and third race...
Yes, I fought like a tiger in the second race. I managed in the end to reel in the driver in P7 and reduce the gap on him. One more lap and I could have perhaps overtaken, but ultimately, I decided not to risk securing pole position for the third round. The last race actually started pretty well. I made a strong start and immediately pulled away from my rivals. However, I had a technical problem and was really down on speed along the straights. I did everything I could but had to let a few drivers through towards the end. Well done to my team-mate Leon Köhler for taking his first podium and his maiden win in the Rookie stakes. He did really well.

The Mugello season finale is about a month away. How do you expect to do there?
I like Mugello. The track is very fast with plenty of turns, which I really like and the layout suits me. I'm very excited about it. I've learned a lot since my first test there last year, which will certainly be of benefit to me at the circuit. We'll be doing more testing in Mugello before the meeting, and I think we'll be well placed in Italy. I can hardly wait!