A new team will debut in Spanish F4 this season and for people who are either into rallying, ice racing or GT’s, it’s a familiar name: Saintéloc Racing. The French team, founded in 2004 by Sébastien Chétail, will debut halfway through the season to prepare for a full season in 2023. F1 Feeder Series talked to Team Principal Morgan Caron.
By Perceval Wolff
Saintéloc Team Principal Morgan Caron might be one of the most important names in French motorsport these last few years. Caron has been in and around motorsport for practically all of his life as he started karting when he was young and had a dad who was a driver himself.
“At the end of my karting driver career, I entered the FFSA [French Motorsport Federation, ed.] and I stayed there for 15 years. I was the National Technical Director and I took care of the French Circuit Team. I then joined Jean Todt at the FIA in the Drivers’ Commission.”
Charles Leclerc was my main driver. I supported him from his GP3 season to last yearMorgan Caron (Saintéloc Racing Team Principal)
“Finally, I joined Nicolas Todt at All Road Management where I spent six years taking care of the development of several drivers, especially Charles Leclerc who was my main driver. I supported him from his GP3 season to last year.”
After a long career at the highest levels of the sport, Caron is starting a new chapter. “I’ve had a lot of experiences in managing, in finding tomorrow’s talents, etc. Several teams approached me these last few years for projects but I wasn’t that attracted to them. And then Sébastien [Chétail, Saintéloc’s founder, ed.] proposed this project. We’ve known each other for many years and he has great ambition and a lot of guarantees from the team. When we started serious talks, we realised we were sharing a similar vision for the team so here we go now”, he says.
Preparing for Spanish F4 and F4 UAE
Saintéloc Racing entered a car in collective F4 testing sessions at Spa-Francorchamps, Barcelona and Portimão. “The objective was mainly to discover and understand these second-generation F4 cars. There is a shortage of raw material at the moment, and every team using the Tatuus T-421 had struggles to get their cars ready. For us too, it was a bit of a race against time to assemble the car and to be totally ready for the first test at Spa. But we succeeded and didn’t have any mechanical failure on track, so we were pretty satisfied with our first tests”, Caron explains.
We are already looking at how we can join other feeder series in the short term, we are working on itMorgan Caron
Saintéloc will start their F4 adventure in July with a partial Spanish F4 campaign, before entering the championship full-time in 2023. “We will do the last four rounds of the season as a wild-card entry. In 2023, Saintéloc will enter Spanish F4 and in F4 UAE with three cars. Maybe we could do some one-offs in Italian F4, it will depend on the opportunities. But our priority at the moment is Spanish F4, and F4 UAE for the winter.”
Their single-seater journey will most likely not stop at Formula 4. Caron has his sights set firmly on the future. “Our objective is not just to be satisfied with F4, it’s only the first step. We are already looking at how we can join other feeder series in the short term, we are working on it.
A technical director coming from F1 and an exciting driver
Saintéloc will face some fierce competition in Spanish F4 with established teams like MP Motorsport and Campos. “We are entering this championship in a very humble way. First, we want to set the foundations of Saintéloc’s single-seaters department. But obviously, if we join a championship, it’s because we have goals. We are giving ourselves the capacities of fighting for the top.”
“We have recruited a technical director for our single-seater department: Julien Simon-Chautemps, who was Kimi Räikkönen’s race engineer for the last three seasons. He has worked with Alfa Romeo, Renault, Lotus, etc. for 14 years. He is the perfect example to show that we are trying to recruit the best people. This way it’s easier to attract very good drivers to go and win races and championships.”
We have recruited a technical director for our single-seater department: Julien Simon-Chautemps, who was Kimi Räikkönen’s race engineer for the last three seasonsMorgan Caron
Saintéloc has already signed its first driver with Théophile Naël, one of the hottest French karting prospects around. After several titles on the national scene, Naël stepped up to the international level last season: he became champion of the IAME France X30 Junior Series for the second time in a row, finished European runner-up with two wins and 3rd in the World Finals.
Born on the 27th of June 2007, he will turn 15 for the fourth round of the Spanish F4 season at Spa-Francorchamps in July. Moreover, he was born in Saint-Étienne where Saintéloc is based.
“The program started around Théophile at first, so he will obviously be our driver this season. The fact that he is coming from Saint-Étienne like our team made the contacts between Saintéloc and him really natural. But our objective is not to do a local or regional team. Our aim is to create a racing team that will shine on the international scene, by winning races and titles with the best drivers”, Caron explains.
A Junior Team for the GT department?
Saintéloc is best known for its GT success, like at the 2017 24 Hours of Spa, or more recently, at last year’s 8 Hours of Indianapolis. Is it an objective to form F4 drivers to directly go to GT?
“That’s a very good question. We all know that climbing the F1 ladder is very complicated, very expensive for young drivers. There are many drivers that face a wall and can’t manage to go to the higher category and decide to go to GT or to endurance racing so they can carry on their racing career, and become a professional driver at lower costs”, Caron says.
The mechanic that starts in F4 knows that if he does a good job, he won’t stay in F4, we’ll promote him to a bigger categoryMorgan Caron
“As we already have a GT team, the single-seaters department will allow Saintéloc to work with young drivers from the beginning of their career. To form them in F4, bring them to FRECA and FIA F3 in the future. And if there are difficulties in progressing on the ladder and we think a driver has potential, we will have the capacity to bring him directly to GT in official cars.”
The same goes for mechanics and engineers, Caron explains. “In motorsport, teams are encountering a lot of difficulties to recruit people, it becomes a rare commodity. One of our answers to this problem is to propose ‘bridges’, career evolutions for these mechanics and engineers. The mechanic that starts in F4 knows that if he does a good job, he won’t stay in F4, we’ll promote him to a bigger category. ”Saintéloc’s new chapter of their history will start on the weekend of the 8th and 9th July, for the 4th round of Spanish F4 at Spa-Francorchamps.
Header photo credit: Sainteloc Racing
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