Mick Schumacher scored two wins as the new MRF Challenge season got underway in Bahrain, with Harrison Newey and Ralf Aron also taking victories.
Returning for a second season in the series, Newey was on top in the first of the four races after qualifying on pole position. The Van Amersfoort Formula 3 racer was two seconds clear of the pack after the first lap, and finished up five seconds out in front.
Debutants Aron and Joey Mawson battled over second place, with the Prema F3 driver recovering from a poor start to get ahead of VAR’s ADAC F4 champion on lap three of 10. Schumacher was beaten to fourth by his Prema F4 team-mate Juri Vips.
The German started from the front row of the reverse grid for race two though, got the jump on polesitter Felipe Drugovich at the start and pulled away to victory.
From fourth on the grid, Mawson came through to second ahead of Aron, Newey and Drugovich.
In race three, Mawson got the lead at the start in front of Schumacher and Aron, but after a safety car for an incident involving polesitter Harrison Newey, it was the Estonian that charged through to win by 6.5 seconds over the Australian, while Schumacher held off Drugovich for third.
Schumacher then made a great start from fourth in the grid in the finale to take another win, victorious by 2.3s over Vips.
Last year’s South American F4 champion Pedro Cardoso completed the podium from reverse grid pole, in front of Newey, Aron and Mawson.
Schumacher’s second win gives him a three-point championship lead over Aron, with Mawson a further 11 back.
The field in Bahrain also included ADAC F4 veteran Kim-Luis Schramm, Japanese F3 national class champion Yoshiaki Katayama, Italian F4 racer Manuel Maldonado and Dutch karting ace Rinus van Kalmthout, who will race for Carlin in USF2000 next year.