Italian F4: Kush Maini ends 2017 season with second podium in Race 3 at Monza
Kush Maini started the final round in the 2017 Italian F4 Championship at Monza finishing fifth in both the practice sessions on Friday – staying within half a second of the leaders, in both the runs.
In Qualifying 1, the Indian was sixth in his Jenzer car with pole going to Prema’s Marcus Armstrong from Bhaitech’s Lorenzo Colombo, while Maini’s teammate Job van Uitert rounded out the Top 3.
The Qualifying 2 saw Colombo take pole after Armstrong’s laps was deleted, with DR Formula’s Artem Petrov in second and Bhaitech’s Sebastien Fernandez Wahbeh was third. Maini claimed a fifth place finish, a mere 0.380s from Colombo.
The first race started under cloudy conditions at Monza on Saturday, with Maini gaining a place to be fifth off the line after teammate van Uitert fell behind.
The Indian then had Prema’s Enzo Fittipaldi and DRZ Benelli’s Ian Rodriguez Wright with him, as the three drivers battled out in the next few laps.
Maini fell behind the two on Lap 3 to be seventh, but quickly made up a position on Fittipaldi on the next lap to be sixth again.
After a safety car period, the Bangalorean dropped a place to teammate van Uitert, the Dutchman making as many places possible in his fight with Armstrong for the title.
For the rest of the race, Maini had a back and forth battle with Wahbeh for sixth – the Indian got ahead of the Venezuelan on Lap 11, but lost it on Lap 13.
However, Maini retook the position on the final lap to end sixth, as Petrov claimed his first win ahead of Armstrong and van Uitert – who fought back from 11th to be third.
The second race started under safety car with foggy conditions prevailing at Monza, with Maini gaining a position to be fourth after his teammate van Uitert had to start from pitlane.
But the conditions caught the Indian as he dropped all the way down to 13th on the second lap itself, before setting himself for a fightback.
The Bangalorean then immediately made headway to be 10th once the safety car was in, while tussling with Armstrong, Rodriguez and Jenzer's Giacomo Bianchi.
Running in eighth by Lap 6, Maini was behind his teammate Federico Malvestiti, fighting for seventh - which he managed to get on Lap 9.
He closed up to Colombo, but with no laps remaining, he had to settle for seventh, as Petrov doubled up with second win in two days.
Dutchman van Uitert made the impossible work after finishing second, having started from the pits and surviving a spin, with Lorandi completing the Top 3.
The final race saw Maini start from eighth and straightaway making up two places on Lorandi and Wahbeh to be sixth at the end of Lap 1.
He cleared Fittipaldi in the subsequent lap to get himself in the Top 5, before making up another position after Petrov's retirement on Lap 5.
Maini earned the podium position after overtaking Wahbeh, but was soon taken on by Rodriguez, thereby ending up fourth.
However, a 25-second time penalty to winner Armstrong, it meant he dropped to 10th handing the win to Colombo from Rodriguez, while Maini attained his second podium of the season.
At the end of the 2017, Armstrong claimed the title scoring 298 points to van Uitert's 247, while Maini ended up ninth with 114 points - scoring two podiums, with a total of 15 points finishes in 21 races.