It would be fair to describe F4 NACAM as in a state of transition. A change of promoter means the series is now under the wing of Copa Notiauto, who have so far done a good job of putting a package together to at least be out on track the first weekend. This is our guide to the 2022 F4 NACAM Championship.
By Adam Dickinson
It’s clear that other parts have so far been less prioritised. Currently the championship has no updated Twitter, Facebook or Instagram presence, its website is ‘under repair’ and there are no listed contacts for the series.
So fans will truly be going on a journey with the championship as it rebuilds from the change of control and a year out due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But when starting from the bottom, the only way is up for a championship that’s featured Pato O’Ward, Jak Crawford, Enzo Fittipaldi and Igor Fraga in the past. And from speaking to organisers and team members over the last few days and weeks, it seems the series is in the solid hands of good people, so this championship could be one to watch over the coming years.
But before that, the series has its first ‘lights out’ this weekend, with race one getting underway at 3:40pm local time (8:40pm GMT).
With just a few days to go until the championship gets underway, there are currently six drivers announced to take the green light.
Organisers are hoping to get that number up to ten by this weekend, and 16 or 17 within three rounds, whilst the series has a capacity of 24 drivers.
Those numbers will be key if the series is to meet minimum participation eligibility for FIA Super Licence (SL) points to be awarded. For 2022 championships to receive hundred percent SL points, ten drivers must start the first race this weekend – there’ll be a 10 per cent reduction in points available for every driver below that amount.
Assuming that all goes to plan, 12 points will go to the champion, ten to the runner up and eight to third place, then 5, 3, 2 and 1 for fourth to seventh.
The last F4 NACAM champion was Noel Leon, who’s scheduled to take part in FRECA this season after triumphing in US F4 last season. It’ll be interesting to see how he gets on in Europe. His former team in Mexico is Ram Racing, the only team currently on the grid to have previous experience in the championship.
Ram have provided four of the five F4 NACAM drivers champions and have two drivers entered for the opening weekend. Juan Felipe Pedraza – hailing from Colombia, he’s the only non-Mexican in the series – and Luis Carlos Pérez Cabello are the pair hoping to continue the team’s performance trend. Pérez could be one to watch having previous experience in single seaters as opposed to his 17-year old teammate, although with all these drivers it’s hard to make concrete predictions based on their junior careers so far.
Also, bear in mind there’s probably a 50-50 chance that the eventual champion is someone who’s not even been announced on the grid yet.
Having said that, Cristian Cantu is another driver for whom this championship will be a real voyage of discovery. The youngest driver at just 15, Cantu’s racing for RE Motorsport, who also make their first appearance in the championship. His team are confident he will be in the top five at the season opener, after they say he tested well with them.
There will also be a returnee on the grid with Daniel Forcadell. The Mexican Easy-Shop.com Racing driver is by far the most experienced Formula 4 driver on the grid. Forcadell took part in all six F4 NACAM season to date with the same team.
Finally, with more experience than the rest of the grid put together, there are the Rejón brothers racing for Mothers ProRally. Rodrigo Rejón, aged 21, raced against Noel Leon last year in the NASCAR Challenge Mexico Series and finished third behind the champion. There isn’t really anything to take from that, but it was an interesting crossing of paths.
Seven years older, Julio Rejón has followed a similar path through various Mexican NASCAR and touring car series but hasn’t had the headline third-place of his brother. For both drivers it’ll be their first foray into single-seaters.
The opening race is at the Autódromo de Querétaro, an oval plus extension totalling nine turns. A relatively new addition to the schedule, it was only added for 2019-20, holding two weekends in the summer of 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. It produced the same polesitter each time but five different winners out of the six races.
From there, teams travel 200 km south-east to Mexico City, for the first of four trips to the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez. That’s the most times the series has visited the capital in a year, with the championship finale supporting the F1 Mexican Grand Prix. Every year the eventual champion has won a round of the final weekend.
The other track visited is the Autódromo Miguel E. Abed, east of Mexico City. The looping 16-turn road circuit has featured in every edition of the championship so far.
Just three circuits is a marked change from previous years, alongside the geographic spread of races. Whereas previously the championship’s travelled up to Monterrey, out to Cancún and even to the Circuit of the Americas, all rounds this year take place within a two-and-a-half hour’s drive from Mexico City.
However, as already outlined this is a new starting point for F4 NACAM with the last-minute Copa Notiauto takeover, so some slack should be afforded. It’d be great to see the calendar expand in the future, but to have a SL-eligible series at such short-notice is to be applauded.
The full calendar
|1||1-3||Autódromo de Querétaro (El Marqués, Querétaro)||26-27th March|
|2||4-6||Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez (Mexico City)||21-22nd May|
|3||7-9||Autódromo Miguel E. Abed (Amozoc, Puebla)||25-26th June|
|4||10-12||Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez (Mexico City)||20-21st August|
|5||12-15||Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez (Mexico City)||3-4th September|
|6||16-17||Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez (Mexico City)||28-30th October|
After an hour of practice, there’s a 30-minute open qualifying session, with the fastest lap setting the grid for race one, and each drivers’ second-fastest lap setting the grid for race three. Race two is a simple reverse-grid affair, with the top 50 per cent of the grid being flipped.
The exception to that is the final weekend in Mexico City, which will just have two races. The same amount of points will be awarded for each race following the F1 points system, although there are no points for pole or fastest lap.
The two Sunday races will be streamed live on the Notiauto Racing YouTube channel. Qualifying and the Saturday race only have live timing coverage on Race Monitor. On Twitter, the F1 Feeder Series Americas account will also keep you up-to-date on everything that’s happening!
Header photo credit: Copa Notiauto
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