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Regional Formula 4 Thread


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#1 Frood

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Posted 30 March 2024 - 23:08

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(As I've been meaning to do for a while, I've finally gotten around to starting an F4 thread prior to the majority of the 2024 season - will post links to races, news, etc. here!)
 
The lowest step on the FIA ladder, Formula 4 has been growing considerably since the FIA introduced the category in 2014, and now reaches its 10-year anniversary. All the series feature slicks and wings, and engine power is around about the 160 hp mark. As a result, it has become the first step for drivers straight out of karting. Generally the racing is frenetic and exciting - though that’s to be expected of grids consisting of mainly fearless teenagers…
 
The current FIA-sanctioned series are as follows:
 
F1 Academy (Tatuus–Abarth T421, Pirelli tyres) | Website | YouTube
F1 Academy has its own dedicated thread here.
 

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Italian F4 & Euro 4 (Tatuus–Abarth T421, Pirelli tyres) | Website | YouTube
The Italian series is seen by most as the “headline” F4 series at present. It’s the longest-running of all the FIA F4 series, having been introduced in 2014. Four drivers from Italian F4 have made their way to F1 (though one has since flunked out) - inaugural champion Lance Stroll (with Prema), 2015 runner-up Zhou Guanyu (also with Prema), 2016 runner-up Mick Schumacher (also also with Prema), and 2021 champion and recent F1 débutant Ollie Bearman (with Pre… I mean, Van Amersfoort). Having a Prema car will likely get you some of the way there, though last year the champion came from outside of the usually-dominant Italian outfit. Prema looked to be well on their way to winning the title with Red Bull junior Arvid Lindblad, the Briton having a comfortable championship lead mid-year. That was until Kacper Sztuka and his US Racing team suddenly hit their stride, with the young Pole sweeping all but one of the last nine races to take the Championship and a berth alongside Lindblad in the Red Bull Junior Team.
 
The two men to keep an eye on this year are likely teamed up at Prema, in the form of Mercedes junior Alex Powell, from Jamaica, and the prodigiously talented Freddie Slater. US Racing will look to keep the drivers title as well, and their most likely title challengers will come in the form of Akshay Bohra, Jack Beeton, and Alpine junior Matheus Ferreira.
 
Euro 4 was set up in 2023 as a “European” F4 series, but essentially boiled down to extra rounds for the Italian series entrants. Kacper Sztuka elected to sit out the last round at Catalunya, with Prema team-mates James Wharton and Ugo Ugochukwu going for the title. It was Ugochukwu who prevailed and took home the first Euro 4 championship trophy.
 

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British F4 (Tatuus–Abarth T421, Pirelli tyres) | Website | YouTube
It’s hard to gauge what the second-most prestigious F4 series is currently, but it’s likely either the British or the Spanish series. The British series uses the same chassis, engine, and tyres as the Italian series so is likely the closest allegory. The series takes place mainly on the same national tracks as the likes of the BTCC due to being on the same TOCA package, though does have an overseas round at Zandvoort. Again, three names have come through the series to take their places in F1. The first British F4 champion was Lando Norris (for Carlin) in 2015; and 2017’s runner-up and third-placed spots went to Oscar Piastri (Arden) and Logan Sargeant (Carlin) respectively. Spare a thought for the man who beat the pair of them, Jamie Caroline!
 
In 2023, it was a two-way fight until the end of the year, with Carlin’s Louis Sharp eventually getting the better of Hitech’s Will Macintyre by 13 points. Other recent winners were GB3 driver Matthew Rees in 2021, and the talented Irishman Alex Dunne dominated in 2022. British F4 differs slightly from Italian F4 in that Race 2 of each weekend is a Top-10 reversed grid race. Of the drivers confirmed so far this year, keep an eye on Hitech’s Mika Abrahams (who looked fast in a part-campaign last year) and Deagan Fairclough (3rd in 2023), as well as Rodin’s Alex Ninovic. British F4 will also be notable this year for having a strong female contingent, with current F1 Academy racer and Alpine junior Abbi Pulling, former F1 Academy racer Chloe Chong, and open-wheel newcomers Nina Gademan and Ella Lloyd.
 

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Spanish F4 (Tatuus–Abarth T421, Hankook tyres) | Website | YouTube
Spanish F4 again uses the same Tatuus chassis and Autotecnica-built Abarth engine as the Italian and British series, though uses Hankook tyres in place of Pirelli. The series has very much been a two-team affair in recent years, with Campos and MP Motorsport entering up to six cars each. Indeed, the two teams pretty much locked out the top 10 in the standings last year, with Campos and MP cars finishing in 2nd down to 9th in the final table. It was somewhat surprising, then, that a team in only their second full year of open-wheel competition came through to take the driver’s title in the shape of Saintéloc Racing’s Théophile Naël. Other recent champions were F3 driver Nikola Tsolov in 2022, and the sadly late Dilano van ‘t Hoff in 2021. No Spanish F4 drivers have yet made it to F1, though 2017 champion Christian Lundgaard is now an IndyCar race-winner. Mind you, the 2018 champion is failing his way up the ladder…
 
2024 will likely be once again a battle between Campos and MP Motorsport. Campos will be fielding two Red Bull juniors in James Egozi and Enzo Tarnvanichkul, as well as Peruvian talent Ándres Cárdenas, who is already a race-winner in the series. MP’s charge will likely be headed by second-year driver Keanu Al Azhari; the team has already won this year’s Formula Winter Series with Griffin Peebles, so look for the young Aussie to be strong too. They’ll also run a couple of promising rookies in René Lammers and Maciej Gładysz.
 

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French F4 (Mygale–Alpine M21, Pirelli tyres) | Website | YouTube
French F4 is a little different to the other series so far mentioned, in that all of the Mygale-built cars are run centrally by the French motorsport federation (the FFSA), and drivers swap between cars over the course of the season to nullify any small differences there may be. This results in some close racing over the course of the year, and a championship that usually goes down to the wire. This was the case in 2023, when Evan Giltaire and Enzo Peugeot fought until the final race at Paul Ricard, with the former winning out. Both have now progressed into FRECA with backing from the FFSA, so the winner stands to gain a good stepping stone into higher formulae.
 
The main contenders this year will likely both be rookies - Jules Caranta has already shown good speed and overtaking prowess in F4 UAE this year, and Augustin Bernier is a very highly-rated karter who has chosen to make his first steps into cars in the French championship. Drivers returning for a second season include Yani Stevenheydens, who finished 7th in his rookie year, and will be looking to build on a good first year. Those familiar with sportscars will also see a couple of familiar names, with Sacha Maassen’s son Montego and Kévin Estre’s brother Dylan making their open-wheel débuts.
 

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UAE F4 (Tatuus–Abarth T421, Hankook tyres) | Website | YouTube
The main off-season F4 championship has already concluded for 2024, with the very promising Freddie Slater taking home his first championship win ahead of team-mate Kean Nakamura Berta. A few other names also took starring roles during the season, with Keanu Al Azhari, Rashid Al Dhaheri, Alex Powell, Gabriel Stilp, and Doriane Pin all picking up their first wins at F4 level.
 

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There are a few more FIA (and FIA-affiliated series) throughout the world:
  • CEZ F4 (Tatuus–Abarth T421, Pirelli tyres) | Website | YouTube — F4 CEZ came into being in 2023, focusing on Central and Eastern Europe. This year will take the series to Hungary, Austria, Slovakia and Czechia over the course of 6 weekends. The grids will still likely be small as the series finds its feet. Jenzer Motorsport dominated last season, and will likely look to do the same again this year.
  • US F4 (Ligier JS F422, Hankook tyres) | Website | YouTube — The premiere F4 series in North America, F4 USA often attracts a bumper grid of up to 30 cars, and is a jumping-off point for drivers looking to both the US and European ladders; previous winners include IndyCar driver Kyle Kirkwood, and FIA F3 driver Noel León. Onroak have introduced a brand-new Ligier car for this year, featuring an in-house built V4 engine. Issues with the new car have delayed the start of the season, and only three drivers have signed up so far. Hopefully everything will be resolved soon, as it would be a shame to see the series reduced to basically nothing.
  • NACAM F4 (Tatuus-Abarth T421, Pirelli tyres) | Website (en español) | YouTube — The North and Central American series, centered on Mexico. This year the championship swapped their old Mygale chassis and Ford engines for the current Tatuus/Abarth chassis/engine combination regularly seen in Europe. Competition has been sparse for the last few years, however.
  • Brazilian F4 (Tatuus–Abarth T421, Hankook tyres) | Website (em português) | YouTube — Now entering its third season, Brazilian F4 has assumed the mantle of the leading national open-wheel series. One of the rounds will feature on the Brazilian Grand Prix package, so provides an opportunity for the drivers to impress infront of a large crowd and the F1 paddock.
  • Japanese F4 (Toray–Toyota MCS4-24, Dunlop tyres) | Website (日本語で) | YouTube — Another series introducing a new second-generation car this year; Dome have been bought out by Toray Carbon Magic, who’ve produced the new Toyota-powered car, with an engine upgrade that will likely make the Japanese F4 cars the most powerful (and likely fastest) of any series around the world. The championship battle usually comes down to, like many Japanese domestic series, drivers backed by either Honda or Toyota. Japanese F4 also has a separate class for gentleman drivers, such as the legend himself “Dragon” - this contributes to busy grids that, at times, run well over 40 cars!
  • Chinese F4 (Tatuus–Geely T421, Kumho tyres) | YouTube — The little-publicised Chinese championship is actually one of the longest-running, having been established in 2015. The two most recent champions, Gerrard Xie and Tiago Rodrigues, are both starting to forge a career in Europe.
  • Indian F4 (Mygale–Alpine M21, MRF tyres) | YouTube — And in contrast to the Chinese championship, the Indian series is one of the newest. The cars are all run by MP Motorsport; like French F4, it uses a Mygale chassis. Australia’s Cooper Webster was crowned the inaugural champion in December; the series also featured the first Vietnamese race-winner as far as I can tell in any FIA open-wheel series, in the form of Alex Sawer Hoàng Đạt.
  • South East Asian F4 (Tatuus–Abarth T421, Giti tyres) | Website | YouTube — F4 SEA was revived in 2023 after 3 seasons on the sidelines. Jack Beeton took the championship win, but a few notable names used the series as their first open-wheel championship, including Kean Nakamura Berta and Doriane Pin. The SEA championship also features the Macau Grand Prix as a non-championship race, won last year by Arvid Lindblad.
  • Australian F4 (Tatuus–Abarth T421, Giti tyres) – The Australian championship is also being resurrected this year after 4 years out, using the same Tatuus/Abarth/Giti package as the reconstituted South East Asian series. There is little information yet, apart from a calendar, so there will likely be more to come before the start of the season.
  • Saudi Arabian F4 (Tatuus–Abarth T421, Pirelli tyres) | Races streamed on Meritus GP's Facebook — Finally, the FIA’s newest F4 series is the Saudi series, being run in the off-season, though this seems to clash somewhat with the UAE series. All cars are centrally-run by Meritus GP. The season has one round to go, with Serbian open-wheel rookie Andrej Petrović currently leading ahead of the more experienced Federico Rifai; three cars are also driven by the Al Qubaisi siblings (F1 Academy drivers Hamda and Amna, along with their brother Abdullah).
Additionally, there are a number of F4 level series run outside of the FIA system:
  • Formula Winter Series (Tatuus–Abarth T421, Pirelli tyres) | Website | YouTube — Essentially an off-season offshoot of Spanish F4, but with a few extra teams from the Italian series. The 2024 Winter Series season saw a lot of drivers making their first foray into open-wheel racing, but the championship was dominated by two second-year drivers in MP Motorsport’s Griffin Peebles, and Campos’ Ándres Cárdenas.
  • GB4 (Tatuus–Abarth T014, Pirelli tyres) | Website | YouTube — MSV in the UK has positioned GB4 as a lower-cost alternative to British F4, using the first generation Tatuus chassis instead of the second-generation one used in the FIA series. As a result, GB4 isn’t eligible for superlicence points, but many of the drivers choose to move over to British F4 or up to MSV’s own GB3 series, which now does provide superlicence points and is a cost-effective alternative to Formula Regional. GB4 is also notable for a strong female presence on the grid; this year the championship has announced a cash prize to help the top woman on the grid into an F1 Academy seat. Expect the GB4 front-runners to include the returning Harry Burgoyne; Alisha Palmowski has also been very fast in pre-season testing.
  • Nordic 4 (Mygale–Renault M14, Pirelli tyres) | Website (på dansk) — Previously known as Danish F4, the series now takes on the moniker of Nordic 4, due to increasing numbers of F5 and Formula Nordic cars on the grid, as well as an increasing number of rounds in Sweden. Often a jumping off point for many youngsters starting their open-wheel journey, as the series allows 14-year-olds, unlike the FIA championships, which require a driver to be 15.
  • USF Juniors (Tatuus–Mazda JR-23, Continental tyres) | Website | YouTube — The USAC-sanctioned F4-level series in the US firmly positions itself as the bottom rung of the Road to Indy ladder. The drivers here generally don’t have their sights set on racing in Europe, though at least one alumnus in Nikita Johnson is now looking to racing in the UK instead of in the US. The Tatuus chassis is a modified version of that used in other F4 series, and can also be modified further in order to upgrade it into the USF2000 and USF Pro 2000 cars, which are the next two steps on the Road to Indy ladder below Indy NXT. Some drivers to keep an eye on here are the International Motorsports duo of Augie Soto-Schirripa (who finished 3rd running only a partial season of US F4 last year) and Ariel Elkin, who moves across from Italian F4. Last year’s Brazilian F4 champion Vinícius Tessaro also moves to USF Juniors; there are further IndyCar-related interests with Dan Wheldon’s son Sebastian and IndyCar team boss Ricardo Juncos’ son Leandro also present.


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#2 Frood

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Posted 31 March 2024 - 14:56

Both French F4 and GB4 have their first events this weekend.

 

GB4 is at Oulton Park, and has already had one race, which you can watch here. Races 2 and 3 (the latter being the reverse grid race) are at 11:35 and 16:30 local (GMT+1) on Monday, and will also be streamed on YouTube: Race 2 | Race 3.

 

Spoiler

 

French F4 is at Nogaro this weekend. Race 1 was not streamed, and pole-sitter Yani Stevenheydens, starting his second season in the championship, took victory ahead of Japanese rookie and Honda junior Taitō Katō. Another rookie, Jules Caranta, took third place.

 

Race 2, at a very soggy Nogaro, is live as of this message! Race 3 will take place at 09:45 GMT+1 tomorrow, and can be seen here.



#3 Muppetmad

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Posted 01 April 2024 - 16:35

The reverse-grid race in GB4 descended into farce, with Palmowski an innocent victim.



#4 Frood

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Posted 01 April 2024 - 17:30

Yes, it did, sadly.

 

A summary of the remaining races, behind spoilers:

 

GB4 Race 2

Spoiler

 

GB4 Race 3

Spoiler

 

French F4 Race 2 was cancelled due to inclement weather.

 

French F4 Race 3

Spoiler

Edited by Frood, 01 April 2024 - 17:35.


#5 McPedro

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Posted 01 April 2024 - 23:26

I watched the GB4 Race 3 and was surprised at how quickly Granfors caught Grant when there must have been double yellows (due to the two cars off the track). It was nearly 2s in that lap alone. 

I am still pretty new to the lower levels of spec racing. Is there "fast" spec cars and "slow" spec cars as well as driver skill, as it seemed as though some cars are driving in a different formula at times?

The 3rd race was more what I expected at this level to be honest, lots of mistakes on a drying track.

 

I will watch the rest of the season for sure now. 



#6 Sterzo

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Posted 02 April 2024 - 12:18

I am still pretty new to the lower levels of spec racing. Is there "fast" spec cars and "slow" spec cars as well as driver skill, as it seemed as though some cars are driving in a different formula at times?

A fascinating question. The team does make a big difference, and I for one would like to understand better than I do exactly how that happens. The factors I can think of are:

  • Standard of preparation, influenced by the number and quality of engineers and mechanics.
  • Set up data from previous years, with a good understanding of each circuit.
  • Funds to replace parts regularly rather than wait until they deteriorate.
  • Driver coaching (I think this is huge at that level).
  • Motivational skills of the team boss.

How much each one plays a part, and what other elements I've missed, would be good to know.



#7 Frood

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Posted 03 April 2024 - 20:20

Winding the clock back earlier in the season, here's a quick look at how the drivers fared in general speed terms in F4 UAE and Formula Winter Series. This should give a fair gauge on who is likely to be fast in some of the European series this year.

 

A little bit of background on how I put these together – the data is taken from a driver's qualifying / fastest race lap, and compared against the fastest lap in each session, where 100% is pole position / fastest lap. I don't rank drivers who complete less than 50% of the season. Drivers who complete 50-75% of the season have one dropped score, and > 75% have two dropped scores, to account for any car issues that may affect the data. Fastest laps are less of a gauge, so I usually disregard a time if the drivers complete less than 50% of the laps in a race.

 

I don't profess this to be a holy grail of comparing drivers, nor do I claim it to be mathematically sound, so take it with a pinch of salt!

 

F4 UAE Qualifying Pace

 

Spoiler

 

Interesting one this. Nakamura Berta and Pin are the least experienced drivers in the Top 10. The fact that Nakamura Berta was actually faster on average than the eventual champion Slater was a surprise to me, and Nakamura Berta outqualified his very highly regarded team-mate 7–3 across the season. Al Azhari was impressively fast, especially taking into account his car was in all but name an Xcel car, but does also have a slight experience edge on most of the Top 10 bar Bedrin.

 

F4 UAE Fastest Lap Pace

 

Spoiler

 

Al Azhari and Slater had a fair advantage here. Nakamura Berta, having less experience than the pair, didn't quite show the same race pace, which eventually bore itself out in the final result.

 

Another driver to watch here is Jules Caranta, who finished 15th in the standings, but was on the fringes of the Top 10 in both metrics – this was his first car racing season of any kind, and his speed was impressive for his lack of experience.

 

Formula Winter Series Qualifying Pace

 

Spoiler

 

FWS' shorter season means a driver partaking in only two rounds still completed 50% of the championship, hence Tye's result is counted; he's helped by a dominant pole position for the last race of the season (over 6 tenths of a second!). FWS is a bit more interesting as there were a lot of drivers making their single-seater débuts, so seeing drivers like Tye and Gładysz means we might have a good bunch of rookies coming through. Disappointments for me were Bohra, who didn't really leverage his decent experience level, and the highly-rated Lammers, who was behind all of his team-mates bar Bouzinelos (and even then, it was 5-4 in Qualifying).

 

FWS Fastest Lap Pace

 

Spoiler

 

Griffin Peebles took the title comfortably in the end, and this is borne out here by just how relentlessly consistent his speed was. I have to admit that he was a pleasant surprise, seeing as he was a lower midfield driver at best in Spanish F4 last year, though he was saddled with uncompetitive machinery at Tecnicar/FdC. Still, he was a long way off of team-mate Yamakoshi last year, so it's impressive how well he's turned it around after a move to MP Motorsport. Colnaghi and Gładysz were probably the best looking rookies in terms of race pace.



#8 Frood

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Posted 06 April 2024 - 10:57

This weekend will see the start of one F4-level championship, and the conclusion of another.

 

USF Juniors will be at NOLA for their first round of the year. The championship is now in its third season, and gaining a lot of traction as a great starting point for youngsters wishing to follow the open-wheel pathway in the Americas. Whilst the inaugural season in 2022 attracted 17 cars for its season opener, dropping to 13 for 2023, this year there will be a healthier 26 cars for the season's first round. As touched upon in my opening post, some of this is down to the issues that US F4 has been having with its new chassis, but the Road to Indy pathway is also proving better value for money for both drivers and teams. The fact that the Tatuus chassis can be upgraded from USF Juniors spec, to USF2000 spec, to USF Pro 2000 spec, is going down well with the teams. Arguably the biggest change on the grid is Jay Howard switching his focus from US F4 to USF Juniors, as he brings a whopping seven car team over from F4.

 

Second-season drivers to look out for are Exclusive Autosport's Jack Jeffers (3rd in 2023) and VRD Racing's Max Taylor (6th in 2023). Other drivers who had a good 2023 were Vinícius Tessaro (DEForce Racing, 2023 Brazilian F4 champion) and Sebastian Wheldon (VRD Racing, 2023 Skip Barber champion). The latter has been the man to beat in the practice sessions this weekend, topping the second and third test sessions and the practice session; Wheldon has been looking especially fast as two of those three sessions he topped by over 6 tenths of a second. Other drivers up the sharp end all weekend so far have been Tessaro and his team-mate Leandro Juncos, son of Ricardo, as well as Inter MS driver Augie Soto-Schirripa, who despite only competing in 4 of the 6 rounds in US F4 last year, finished 3rd in the championship, and likely could have challenged Patrick Woods-Toth for the title had he driven the full season.

 

Meanwhile, over in Jeddah, it'll be the final three races for the first ever F4 Saudi Arabian Championship, and three drivers go into the round with a mathematical chance of the title. The least likely of these to take the championship is third-placed Kirill Kutskov, the 2023 FIA Karting World Champion in the OK class. He's 60 points off the lead, with 62.5 points on offer, so it'll take a miracle for the "Kyrgyz" driver to triumph. Whilst he's been consistent, he's never shown the outright pace of the top two in the season, taking one win and 4 further podiums so far. 2nd place, 26 points behind the leader, is the season's surprise driver, Andrej Petrović. The Serbian has had a fairly decent karting career, though not outstanding, so it has been a surprise to see him take so quickly to the F4 cars; he'll still need a good weekend to take the title. The championship favourite, therefore, is points leader Federico Rifai. The Dubai-based driver showed good speed in UAE F4 in 2023, but had a difficult season in Spanish F4, scoring points only twice and finishing 22nd in the standings. Still, he's leveraged his experience well against more more green opponents, and should be able to take the trophy home with a safe and steady weekend.



#9 Frood

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Posted 10 April 2024 - 13:37

Will post an update on last weekend's action later today, but in far more important F4 news:

SATOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!1111one

(For those who'd rather not visit Twittxr, Takuma Sato's son Rintaro will be in Japanese F4 this year)

#10 FLB

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Posted 13 April 2024 - 16:44



#11 HistoryFan

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Posted 13 April 2024 - 17:47

Will post an update on last weekend's action later today, but in far more important F4 news:

SATOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!1111one

(For those who'd rather not visit Twittxr, Takuma Sato's son Rintaro will be in Japanese F4 this year)

 

would like to see him and Takuma compete against each other at the Indy 500

 

The same with both Montoyas...