British F4 leader Zagazeta on a difficult last year: ‘I was completely alone’

With three rounds of the British Formula 4 championship left to go, the fight for the title couldn’t be closer. Peruvian driver Matias Zagazeta (Argenti) leads the championship, ahead of rookies and JHR teammates Matthew Rees and McKenzy Cresswell. Swedish driver Joel Granfors (Fortec Motorsport) and British driver James Hedley (Carlin) sit in fourth and fifth respectively and only 35 points separate the top five drivers.

By Vicki Merrick

After twenty-one action-packed races, which resulted in ten different winners and eighteen podium finishers, the teams now head to Silverstone, the home of the Formula 1 British Grand Prix, for round eight of the championship. Points are awarded to the top ten finishers in races one and three, and the top eight in race two, along with extra points for every position gained during a reverse grid race. F1 Feeder Series caught up with championship leader Zagazeta ahead of the Silverstone weekend.

A difficult covid year

A second-year driver, Zagazeta has improved on last year and currently leads the championship by 5 points after gaining his tenth podium finish of the campaign last weekend at Croft. “We’re really happy with how it’s going,” he said. “We were off to a tough start in the first two rounds, but we worked very hard together with the team. Now we are where we are, but it’s not over yet. We still got a long way to go with nine races and there are a lot of points up for grabs. We’ll keep working very hard to keep improving and hopefully end up in the same position where we are now at the end of the year.”

With covid making the championship hard for everyone last year, the changes this year have been a benefit to the drivers. “It was really difficult,” said Zagazeta about 2020. “There were no fans at the track, so it was really difficult for me personally, because I was completely alone here. I was at school as well and no one from my family could come to visit. Obviously we’re from Peru, so it was basically impossible for them to come and visit to see any of the races.” 

Zagazeta also noted that the calendar was a lot tighter last season, with the whole championship taking place within only a couple of months. “I think this season we have more of a chance to breathe, to debrief about the races, and just to learn from our mistakes from the last round or see what we did well. Whereas before you had race weekend after race weekend after race weekend, and you had no time to digest what you did on the weekend, what you can improve. Yeah, it was quite hard.” 

Now with covid restrictions lifting, families can attend again. Zagazeta is clearly happy with that change. “It’s really good to have your family there supporting you, even if you had a good weekend, to try and give back to them. Obviously this is a big support they give us drivers, and supporting from Peru means a big time difference. For example, I remember my first win in Brands Hatch, it was like 6:00 AM in the morning in Peru and they were in their pyjamas celebrating on FaceTime! So yeah, to finally have them on the track by my side, being together with them, it’s really nice.”

Future

Coming towards the end of the season, drivers now look towards the future and where they might go next. Zagazeta says his focus is in the here and now. “At the moment we’re fully focused on the championship, but everyone is looking at what they do next year and so are we,” he offered. “I mean, it’s really important to stay focused. Obviously, people start to test other cars, start to go into different, faster cars. But then you have to adapt back again to the F4 car. So at the moment, we don’t want to put our head in any other place. Then once everything is done, we’ll have a plan sorted.”

Title battle

With Silverstone, Donington and Brands Hatch still to come, and five drivers fighting for the championship, Zagazeta is looking forward to the final rounds. “We’re really confident with these three tracks,” he enthuses. “Donington is my second favourite track after Snetterton on the calendar. Brands GP is my third favourite track, and then Silverstone is really good for the team. So yeah, I’m really excited for these last three races. We still need to do our best and try and get the best qualifying possible that makes the weekend look easier. Just be consistent and rack up the points, try and win some races, and I’m sure it will be ok.” 

Zagazeta says he is enjoying the tight title battle this season, feeling it makes him a better driver. “It’s honestly fantastic because you don’t really want to be up there just on your own,” he says. “You want to have competition because that eventually helps you to push yourself to improve as a driver, and that’s what we’re here for. We want to make our way up and we want to learn, so having this level of competition is just amazing for us and for the championship as well.”

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