One needed to only look at the driver line-up announced for the 2016-17 MRF Challenge to guess that MRF’s intention was primarily to put its brand on a more global platform. At least in the context of junior racing formulae, that is. With no Indian drivers and competitors from various Formula 4 championships around the world, the idea seems to be to make the series a way for those up and coming drivers to stay in racing shape while they wait for their European campaigns to begin.
Both the German Formula 4 champion and runner-up are a part of the series. Although Joey Mawson, who won the German F4 crown, is a newcomer to MRF’s flagship racing series while the driver he beat has been here before. Not to mention he is famous by association on account of his father being the most successful Formula 1 driver of all time. Mick Schumacher returned to the MRF Challenge and recorded his first win in the series following four races held as a support for the WEC 6 Hours of Bahrain.
Also back is Harrison Newey, whose famous F1 father has multiple titles to his name on account of having designed the championship winning machines. Newey won the opening race of the weekend while Schumacher recovered from a fifth place finish in the opening race to take two wins and a third place on the second and final day of the opening round.
The performance takes Schumacher’s tally up to 75 points and gives him the lead in the points table ahead of 2015 Italian F4 champion Ralf Aron and Mawson, who have 72 and 61 points, respectively. 2015 BRDC F4 runner-up Newey has 53 points while Juri Vips rounds out the top five with 40 points.
Unlike its last two seasons, the MRF Challenge will feature two rounds in India as a stop at the Buddh International Circuit is scheduled along with the season ending round at the Madras Motor Race Track at Sriperumbudur near Chennai.
Prior to that however, a round will be held at the Dubai Autodrome on December 7-9 before the January 27-29 and February 17-19 round at Greater Noida and Sriperumbudur, respectively.