Niklas Krütten takes his first win of 2019 in ADAC Formula 4 season opener

May 2019
Niklas Kruetten
Niklas Krütten made a promising start to the season-opening weekend in front of more than 25,000 spectators in Oschersleben. The Van Amersfoort Racing driver celebrated his first victory of the season in the second race of the ADAC Formula 4, the second win of his budding career. Fourth place in the first race and eighth place in the third race meant that with a total of 41 points Krütten is now in second place in the drivers’ classification after Oschersleben. He is just six points adrift of the top of the table.

 A shower of rain fell over the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben just before Sunday morning’s second race. The rain stopped before the start, but the track was still so wet that the race director decided to start behind the safety car. Krütten was in fifth place on the grid and fought his way forwards. He could have won by a comfortable margin, but a safety car period served to hot things up. Krütten defended P1 valiantly over the last few laps of the race on wet weather tyres that were degrading quickly against Arthur Leclerc, brother of Formula 1 driver Charles Leclerc, who had switched to slicks during the safety car period. There was even a slight contact in the final turn before the main straight, forcing Leclerc to drive through the gravel bed. However, no rules had been broken, and so, Krütten was able to celebrate his first win of the season in 2019 without any problems. 

The weekend started promisingly for Krütten with second place in first practice. The ADAC Sports Foundation protégé was seventh in second practice. He was again seventh in the first qualifying and finished fifth in the second race against the clock. In the first race on Saturday, he moved up into second place at the start and held this position for several laps. However, his tyres soon began to degrade and cost him a podium finish. He had to settle for fourth place in the end. 

Krütten started the third race of the weekend from eighth place due to the reversed grid order. Although he was able to gain ground at times, he finished eighth on used slicks from the previous day, securing more points towards the championship. His next race outing will be in the Italian Formula 4 season opener at Vallelunga next weekend. 

Congratulations on your first win of season! 

Thanks! The team did a great job. We made the right decision as I drove from the pit lane to the grid and bolted on full wets. I nursed the tyres at the start and felt my way around the track. That paid off, because the guys in front of me had problems with tyres degrading. As a result, I was able to work my way up into the lead. Of course, the safety car period was not ideal, because it destroyed my lead. Leclerc on slicks caught up with me towards the end of the race, which bothered me, and I kept looking in my rear-view mirror. He was going too quickly and rear-ended me in the penultimate corner. He tried 

to overtake me on the outside in the final turn but left me no room, so there was a collision. It was a normal racing incident. I wouldn’t say he was to blame. We were both pushing. 

According to ADAC Formula 4 statistics, one of the race winners from the season opener will finish up as champion... 

I hope the statistics are right and that it’s the winner of the second race! I’m really pleased to have won a race so early in the season and dedicate this victory to the team. Overall, I’ve taken a good haul of championship points from Oschersleben. I feel very confident about the next couple of races. 

How did you fare on Saturday in qualifying and in the first race? 

The car was good, but I didn’t get the maximum out of it. I did not use fresh tyres in qualifying and was too aggressive initially in the race and abused my tyres, which meant that they were degrading badly after only a few laps and there was nothing I could do about it. I learned my lesson for the second race and that paid off. 

Unfortunately, you were left defenceless in the third race... 

The third race was tough. I got off to a good start and immediately moved up into seventh place. I had to drive on a used set of tyres from the previous day, which made things difficult. I was fast through the right-handers but had problems in the left-hand turns. A gap opened up as a result. The driver in front of me was being quite aggressive, so I wasn’t prepared to risk an overtaking manoeuvre. I lost P7 in the end, because the driver behind me was on fresher tyres after being forced to retire the previous day. There was not much that I could do. It’s great that we were able to secure some decent points despite that. 

You will be back racing this weekend. How do you expect to do in the Italian Formula 4? 

I’m looking forward to Vallelunga, because I really like the track. Testing there went quite well, but I don’t want to become too arrogant in the way I approach the season. We’ve still got some work to do, but I feel good about things.