Flying the flag for Richardson Racing, Harry Webb is currently leading the Ford F4 Challenge Cup standings, tied with Hampus Ericsson on 315.5 points.
The Challenge Cup, new this year, ran as a separate class during each F4 race. Challenge Cup competitors could compete for points in the overall championship, but only raced at seven of the 10 meetings, with Knockhill and Brands Hatch Indy mandatory events.
Webb joined the Formula 4 grid after a number of strong performances in preseason testing and a season racing in Formula Vee.
Technical problems in qualifying put Webb on the backfoot in his debut weekend. The 20-year-old took a trio of third place finishes at Brands, the final Challenge Cup entrant.
Things went better at Donington Park. After another third in race one – seventh overall – Webb enjoyed a race long battle with Patrik Pasma, Oscar Piastri, and Ayrton Simmons at the sharp end of the field, finishing fourth overall and second of the four Challenge Cup entrants. He went on to take fifth overall, second again in the Challenge Cup, in race three.
Only two drivers, Webb and Oliver York, competed for the Challenge Cup at Thruxton and Oulton Park. Webb couldn’t match York’s pace at Thruxton, but it was the Richardson Racing driver on top at Oulton.
After starting ninth for race one, a lightning start allowed Webb to make up two positions on the opening lap. He spent most of the race battling with Oscar Piastri but the Arden driver held firm and Webb couldn’t find a way past. He finished seventh overall, three places higher than York to take his maiden Challenge Cup victory.
It put Webb seventh on the grid for race two, when he continued his climb up through the field. He finished fourth, again ahead of York, to take a clean sweep of Challenge Cup victories, with the final race postponed until Knockhill.
Hampus Ericsson and Olli Caldwell joined the duo on the Croft Challenge Cup entrance list.
Webb had already proven himself in the wet in preseason testing, and the conditions played to his advantage in the first race at Croft. He jumped from ninth on the grid to fifth on the opening lap. He moved up to fourth after an early safety car, but dropped back down the order after slipping onto the wet grass midway through the race.
The 20-year-old finished seventh, ahead of the two other Challenge Cup racers to finish the race. After three consecutive victories, Webb was second in the standings but only 35 points behind York. The gap widened before the end of the weekend, though, as York beat Webb in the second and third races.
York dropped out of the Challenge Cup class for the second part of the season, leaving Ericsson as Webb’s main competition.
With five meetings already under his belt, Webb now only had the two mandatory meetings left. Webb had a gap of 160 points back to Ericsson, but the Fortec driver had three races in hand and, by the time the Formula 4 headed north to Knockhill, Ericsson had closed the gap to 123 points.
Webb could only manage third in the opening race, 11th overall, whilst Ericsson took his second Cup victory.
Race two was the rearranged Croft round. Ericsson wouldn’t be competing but York was back.
Webb had been battling for fourth, only for damage to his front wing to drop him down the order. He finished seventh overall, whilst York crossed the line fourth to claim his final Challenge Cup victory.
He took second again in race three, this time to Ericsson, but he finally triumphed in race four. Webb battled up from 12th on the grid to finish eighth overall, just ahead of rivals Caldwell and Ericsson. It put him in the lead of the Challenge Cup standings, 140 points ahead of Ericsson. But he wouldn’t be back in the car until the season finale at Brands.
Ericsson has now closed the gap to nothing. The pair head to Brands Hatch tied on points, but Ericsson holds the advantage with eight wins to Webb’s four.
Image credit: Caroline Rhea