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Rinicella Frustrated With Race 3 Penalty in Spa F4 Spain Opener

Written by Juan Arroyo, Edited by Meghana Sree

Valerio Rinicella’s F4 Spain campaign opened with frustration for the MP Motorsport driver. In a rain-drenched first race, he couldn't secure any points. He later converted a pole position into victory in the second race. In the third, he narrowly beat Matteo de Palo on track but incurred a penalty for exceeding track limits, relegating him to the 12th position in the official results.

The MP Motorsport driver described a “pretty strong” start to the weekend as his teammates and he finished high in free practice sessions. A challenging start to qualifying left Rinicella outside the top ten for the opening race, only to recover by claiming pole position in qualifying for the second race.

“I just need more confidence with mixed conditions because on the first day it was not dry but not even wet. So I need more confidence with that because I was a bit scared. In fact, I also spun on the curb. The second race was okay. We finished P2, so good points, and on the last race, [it was a] must-win. But, for a penalty, everything went wrong.”

Rinicella led almost the entirety of the third race from the first lap until a safety car restart allowed Matteo de Palo to get close enough to overtake on the final lap. De Palo successfully passed Rinicella and led him into the Bus Stop chicane. They went side-by-side into the run-off area beside the pits and finished with Rinicella ahead of de Palo by just 0.011 seconds. Rinicella later received a post-race time penalty of five seconds and was demoted to 12th place.

“It's not fair because in the full week, I adjusted to the track limit. That was one on the restart in the last race and the last one on the last lap. It's not fair because the steward said to me, "Just five seconds, no complaints’. The overtake was on track. So we both went outside, I don't know why they penalised me. Maybe if they had to penalise me, just second place.”

Track limits proved a problem for a number of drivers, as Christian Ho also mentioned issues with the enforcement by the stewards.

Rinicella and de Palo separated marginally at the end of Race 3. Credit: F4 Spain

Rinicella considers himself a stronger driver than last year, when he finished sixth in the championship, and says his aim is to win: “I had a good weekend in Spa. The race was amazing. I managed to keep [my] position, and it's really difficult with the tow, so let's see now, if I keep pushing like this.

“I think I'm going to do my best, but I believe I'm better than last year, especially on the tracks where I was a bit slower. I feel strong everywhere. Let's wait and see how it goes on the new track, Estoril, since it's new for everyone. But for now, I'm just focusing on Aragón, and I believe Campos is stronger here compared to Spa. But let's push, of course.”


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