Kiern Jewiss stars on his British F4 debut
It was a weekend to remember for Kiern Jewiss at Brands Hatch as he enjoyed two trips to the podium during his British F4 debut. Impressing from the outset, the 15-year-old Brit finished this weekend’s three races in 2nd, 4th and 2nd place respectively.
Fresh off the back of a positive pre-season testing programme, Kiern and his Double R Racing team headed to Brands Hatch confident of picking up a good haul of championship points. Despite it being Kiern’s debut British F4 weekend, the Kent-based youngster already had heads turning after he set the pace in Friday’s first practice session as he topped the timesheets.
With the sun shining down on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit, Kiern continued to be on the pace in Friday’s second session as his 46.210 lap time saw him finish the 45-minutes practice in second place and just 0.035-seconds behind the fastest driver, Jonathan Hoggard.
As the action rolled into the weekend, Saturday played host to the weekend’s qualifying session to determine the starting grid for races one and three – with the driver’s fastest time being used to set the grid for race one and their second-fastest used for race three, with race two being a reverse grid from the 1st to 7th place finishers in race one.
Twenty minutes of qualifying began proceedings on Saturday morning and as the drivers hit the track for the first time they chose to run wet weather tyres as the track was still damp. However, it wasn’t long before Kiern and the rest of the grid switched onto the slick dry tyre and times began to tumble.
As the session hit crunch time, it was Kiern who drew first blood and put his Double R F4 on provisional pole with a rapid lap time but the FM Conway-sponsored driver was soon knocked off the top spot a lap later by Ayrton Simmons – setting the scene for a dramatic final round of laps. Pushing his car to the limit around the 1.2-mile circuit, Kiern went fastest overall in the first sector and looked set to claim pole position in his first-ever British F4 qualifying. However, Kiern hit traffic on the final corner, losing time and subsequently missing out on pole position by just three-hundredths of a second.
This result meant Kiern started the first race of the season from the front-row in second place and the third race of the weekend would see him start from third place. Reflecting on qualifying, Kiern was disappointed not to be on pole but was still pleased to be on the front-row.
“Overall, I’m a little disappointed as I knew, without the traffic, it would have been pole position – which would have been the dream start to my first race weekend. The car felt really quick but around the Indy circuit you have to have a clean lap if you want to be on pole and, unfortunately, I got a bit unlucky. However, starting on the front row is still a great place to be for race one and I’m excited to see what we can do from there.”
Lining the grid from second place for race one, Kiern got off the line strongly and was instantly pressurising Simmons for the lead of the race. However, Simmons covered the inside line and Kiern got boxed out and was forced to settle behind the race leader but kept his second place through the opening lap.
As they crossed the line for the start of the second lap, Kiern had his best opportunity to snatch the lead as Simmons ran wide at Paddock Hill Bend and lost momentum heading up the hill into Druids. Kiern, travelling at much greater speed, began to attack Simmons who took to the inside – forcing Kiern to go the long way around. Unfortunately, Kiern’s slick tyres were still not up to optimum temperature and he didn’t have enough grip to go around the outside of Simmons at the hairpin – a tough enough task at the best of times.
Tucking in behind, Kiern remained with the race leader for the duration of the race as the top-three remained within a second of each other. As Kiern applied immense pressure to Simmons for the entirety of the race, he struggled to find anywhere to pass on the notoriously difficult Indy circuit and crossed the finishing line in 2nd place – just 0.362 seconds behind the winner.
Taking second place and reaching the podium in his first-ever race, Kiern was still disappointed that he couldn’t capitalise on Simmons mistake.
“I pushed Ayrton (Simmons) really hard, but as soon as you get within a car length you just run out of grip,” explained Jewiss.
“It’s so hard to pass around this track. You need to make a good start, which I did, but I had a bit of a slide at Graham Hill Bend on the cold tyres. I couldn’t quite capitalise on Ayrton’s mistake on the second lap. I might have been able to pull it off if there had been a bit more temperature in the tyres. Now we’ve got the partially reversed-grid race. It’s going to be interesting because we start further down the order and we’ve seen how hard it is to pass.”
Race two of the weekend was the reverse grid and, after finishing race one in second place, Kiern started the race from sixth place. Just like in race one, Kiern got great traction off the start line and caught up to the drivers in front heading into turn one, but repeating race one, Kiern was boxed out with nowhere to go and couldn’t capitalise on his strong start.
Dropping down a position to 7th at the start, Kiern remained in a closely fought battle for positions but just like in race one, struggled to get close enough to make a clean cut move. Kiern eventually got past Double R teammate, Tonteri, to move up the order to 6th place and held the position until the chequered flag. However, Pasma and Hoggard were handed time penalties for jump starts and Kiern was promoted to 4th place – just missing out on the podium but collecting a good haul of points.
“Race two was an interesting one as we definitely had the pace to move up the order but struggled to get past on track without risking it all. We’re still very early on in the championship so there’s no point throwing away good points so I was happy to settle for 4th place!”
Heading into Sunday, rain clouds loomed over Brands Hatch and the decision on tyre choice was made at the final moments but slick tyres were the choice made by the entire grid. As Kiern started the race from third place, he fancied himself in these damp/drying conditions and got a good start off the line but remained behind Hauger and Simmons as they battled for the lead of the race heading into Druids.
As Hauger went to the outside of Druids, Simmons concentrated on keeping Hauger at bay but Kiern saw the opportunity to take the lead and got fantastic traction out of Druids and shot past the two drivers on the run down to Graham Hill Bend and into the lead of the race! As Simmons and Hauger continued to battle, Kiern began to stretch out a lead on his competitors.
However, on lap two, Kiern made a small mistake and got out of shape at McLaren, running wide onto a damp patch and allowing Simmons and Hauger to pass him heading down the pit straight.
Staying with the lead cars, the safety car was brought out on lap 12 and when the action got back underway on lap 17, Kiern took advantage of a mistake by Hauger, that saw his rival run wide at Paddock Hill and open the door for second place, which Kiern took without hesitation.
Now in second place, Kiern pushed Simmons right until the chequered flag but ultimately didn’t have the life in his tyres to push for the race win and settled for the runner-up spot for the second time on the weekend.
After leading the race early on, Kiern felt a small mistake cost him but overall, he was very pleased with his British F4 debut weekend.
“Unfortunately a little mistake cost me today, but you live and learn. It’s only my first weekend in British F4 and it’s certainly not been a bad one! Two second places and a fourth place means a great haul of championship points, with a long way to go this season.”
“Ayrton probably had the legs on everyone this weekend. I gave it my all, but I didn’t have enough life left in the tyres today. Overall, it’s been a brilliant weekend; I’ve really enjoyed my single-seater debut so huge thanks to the F4 British Championship organisers and to Ford. I cannot wait for the next race!”
Barry Mears, Head of the MBP Academy, was extremely impressed with Kiern’s start to the year and knows the best is still to come.
“Kiern put together a really strong performance this weekend and he can be very pleased with himself. He was constantly running at the top of the timesheets all weekend which is a tough task to do on your very first weekend! Kiern made one mistake all weekend which unfortunately happened while he was leading but it’s still early days in the championship. Kiern still has more to learn but overall it was a fantastic weekend and one he can be proud of.”
Kiern departs Brands Hatch 3rd in the Drivers’ Championship with 48 points as the championship now heads to Donington Park in three weeks time for the second round of the 2018 British F4 Championship (28th – 29th April).
Free Practice 1: 1st (46.370)
Free Practice 2: 2nd (46.210, +0.035)
Qualifying: 2nd (46.525, +0.031)
Qualifying Second Fastest: 3rd (46.567, +0.017)
Race 1: 2nd
Race 2: 4th
Race 3: 2nd