Masson eyes FRECA seat as he prepares for French F4 finale: ‘It’s quite tense’

Esteban Masson (17) has been one of the standout drivers of the French F4 season. The French-Canadian driver had a dream debut by clinching four race wins in the first seven races. After two difficult rounds, Masson came back at Paul Ricard with a win. With a four-point advantage over Macéo Capietto in the standings, Esteban Masson sat down with F1 Feeder Series ahead of the season finale.

By Perceval Wolff

Masson has racing in his blood. Like many young drivers, it was because of his father that he wanted to become a racing driver. “I was born in Canada, I lived there until I was seven and my father used to do some karting. I loved going with him and I really wanted to follow in his footsteps one day. Engines, on-track battles, I wanted to do exactly the same as my father.”

The 17-year-old started quite late compared to some others: “I had to wait some years before entering competitions. When we came to France, it was difficult on a financial level, because it’s a very expensive sport. But my family and especially my father knew it was my dream. I was around 11 years old when I started my first competition. That was the moment I realised this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”

He quickly became one of the big names of French karting by winning the National Series Karting in 2018 and the FFSA Junior Championship the next year. F4 in 2020 would’ve been the logical next step, but the young Frenchman decided to do one more year in karting: “I could have done French F4 last year. I felt staying in karting was better for me because I needed to learn more, to become a more complete driver before single-seaters. And I know now that it was the right call to make. I learnt so much in the Senior category in karting last year, it fully prepared me for F4.”

Eventful F4 Season

Five wins, seven pole positions; it’s been a great debut season for Masson, even though not everything went smoothly. “It’s been a very good season. I had an amazing start to the year; I always adapt quickly. But I had a lot of racing incidents during the season. I stalled at Nogaro and I had a front wing failure at Magny-Cours preventing me from having three wins in three races that weekend.”

“At Monza, I had really good pace but I had a bad strategy in qualifying and I didn’t get a tow. Somebody crashed into me in Race 1, so I had to start last in Race 2 but I still managed to get P4. Honestly, the only weekend where I’m not satisfied with myself is Lédenon. I know bad weekends happen sometimes. It’s a special track and I didn’t fully understand it.”

Masson came back to his winning ways by dominating at Paul Ricard. “I never lost confidence. Scoring two pole positions, one win and making some smooth overtakes: I’m back to my normal level, the same that I had at the start of the season. Everything is perfect for the final round at Magny-Cours.”

For a second time this year the French F4 drivers are going to Magny-Cours. A place Masson seems to like: he won twice and scored two pole positions. Can he do the same this weekend? “Well, anything can happen, because everybody improved throughout the year. We will need to judge when to attack, when to defend, when to be aggressive and not take too many risks because there is a championship at stake.”

Masson vs. Capietto

Masson has known his title rival Macéo Capietto for several years. Back in 2019, he clinched the FFSA Junior Karting Championshipby beating Capietto. “I’ve known him for quite a long time now. In 2019, it was not so tight between us because I won the title by a big margin. This year it’s a bit more tense between us. I was really angry with him after the Hungarian weekend when he crashed into me. Really, I didn’t understand his behaviour.

“The stewards decided not to give any penalty, but in my opinion it was clearly not a racing incident. When it comes to crashes like that, drivers will always have different opinions. The driver on the inside will have another point of view than the driver on the outside, etc., I respect the decision of the stewards. But we still talk. It’s quite tense but it stays kind of normal.”

If Masson doesn’t win the title, will he still be satisfied with his season? “It depends on how the season finishes. If I haven’t made any mistakes, I will not be disappointed. If I know that I’ve given it my all and that nobody could have done better in my car, I can’t be disappointed.”

Future

When it comes to his long-term future, the 17-year-old has a clear goal. “I’ve always had one option: F1. But I know it’s very hard to get there. Ever since my childhood, my main objective has been to become a professional racing driver. I’ve never tested anything other than an F4 car. I’m a bit more ‘sprint’ than ‘endurance’. Although I like watching WEC from time to time, it’s not my thing. But that could still change.”

Where could we see Masson next year? “My coach and manager Didier André is a former racing driver and has contacts everywhere, so I’m not worried. For the moment, my objective for next year is F3 or Formula Regional Alpine. Didier André, my father and I are discussing it but we haven’t chosen yet. We want to finish the year first, then we will decide.”

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