Mygale CEO: ‘Absurd that a 16-year-old must pay more than 500k for a season of racing’

Mygale Cars has been one of the biggest feeder series single-seater manufacturers for more than 30 years and current chassis supplier of the French F4 championship. F1 Feeder Series spoke to founder and CEO of Mygale, Bertrand Decoster, about the exciting upcoming projects for his company, the loss of British F4, and competition with Tatuus.

By Perceval Wolff

Like its Italian counterpart Tatuus, Mygale introduced its second-generation Formula 4 with the Mygale M21 this year, which has been the result of a total change of philosophy compared to previous generations. A new F4 designed for open-competition “In my opinion, the Gen1 was in the ‘spirit of Formula 4’: the goal was to control costs. But we realized that we were in a market where we needed to have THE best car possible. So we worked a lot on the aerodynamics, on the weight and of course, on all the safety devices such as the Halo.”

“The new Mygale-Alpine is lighter than the new Tatuus-Abarth, while it was the opposite last year. We should have gained around 40kg with the Halo and increased car length, but we lost 50kg compared to our former car. We designed this F4 as a ‘real racing car,’ as if it were an open competition.”

France vs. Italy

In the past few years Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine (FRECA) team directors realised drivers coming from French F4 adapted to Formula Regional quicker than those driving in Italian F4. Most pertinently Isack Hadjar, 3rd in French F4 in 2020, beating the reigning Italian F4 champion Gabriele Minì for the Rookie of the Year title. Could it be because of the F4 car? And if so, will French F4 drivers keep this advantage with the Gen2?

The French F4 system, it’s quite unique. It puts all drivers on an equal footing

Bertrand Decoster

“The French F4 system, it’s quite unique. It puts all drivers on an equal footing. In Italian F4… you know, I have no problem with monotype competitions, like the current feeder series, it’s excellent to judge the level of the drivers. But good ideas can have drawbacks than can be more important than the benefits.”

“When you give the cars to the teams, there is no more equity. Teams like Prema, which is the world reference, will spend a lot of money, a lot of time on small details. And with the same car, they can optimize it without any cheating. If you add to this, intensive testing programs with almost unlimited mileage, teams can be able to help some drivers in a nearly abnormal way.”

Hugh Barter | Credit: FFSA Academy

“French F4 and the FFSA Academy aim to do the exact opposite by trying as much as they can to give the exact same car to every driver. Therefore, the standings show the true reality of the level of the drivers, the true hierarchy. Whereas if a driver wins in a Prema, it doesn’t mean he is an incredible champion. He can be! It’s not what I’m saying, I’m just saying the relation is not so obvious” expands the French engineer.

Red Bull prefers to send their drivers to French F4

Bertrand Decoster

“The best proof of what I’m saying is that now Red Bull prefers to send their drivers in French F4. What’s the point of spending more than €500,000 when you can spend only €150,000 for a French F4 season that will really reveal the best drivers?”

“Italian F4 is still the world reference, because of its history, because of the promoter that also manages all the big international karting events. After their karting career, drivers often want to stay in the same environment and that can explain why there are so many drivers in this championship.”

Closed markets and politics

For the moment, Gen2 F4 from Tatuus – used in Italy, Spain, Germany, UAE and Brazil – looks much more popular than Mygale Gen2 as the French car is only being used in the domestic series. “One of the biggest problems for us is that it’s impossible to do any synergy with French F4, as teams cannot run in the series, while the teams running in Spanish F4 can do Italian or German F4 on one round if they want” explains Mygale’s founder.

This year we lost British F4, one of our historical partners for several decades

Bertrand Decoster

“This year we lost British F4, one of our historical partners for several decades. The choice of the British organisers has been to choose the Tatuus-Abarth-Pirelli package to fit in with the other feeder series and attract more people. But the reality is that there are only 15 cars this year, while there were more with Mygale-Ford. There is no point in racing in British F4 anymore, it has become a championship like any other.”

Mygale knows that the Tatuus hegemony will be hard to defeat because of several non-sportive factors: “The markets are very closed and are inherent to political contingencies. The reality of motorsport is that there isn’t an abundance of markets. The only solution for us is to build the best car possible as if it was an open competition.”

Formula Regional Gen2

Mygale also developed a Formula Regional car back in 2018. The car is actually used by
Ligier in Northern America thanks to a technological partnership between the two companies. With Alpine co-organising FRECA, could we see the European championship give up the Tatuus for the Mygale? Some drivers often complain about the Tatuus car, even though racing has been improved by the introduction of a push-to-pass this year.

“We are already thinking about the second-generation Formula Regional car and we hope to have a chance, but everything is not in our hands. FRECA is mainly managed by ACI Sport, the promoter of Italian F4, doesn’t help us. We are only a passenger on this boat, we don’t choose the promoters. The only thing to do from our side is to do a better job.”

Environmental transition and cost reduction

To stand out from its rivals Mygale is now set to become a pioneer in alternative energies.
As a feeder series French F4 is one of the rare FIA-sanctioned series to still be 100% thermic. “After being the first to introduce biofuel in feeder series one of our main projects is to bring hybridisation in feeder series, because we think this is the way motorsport should go.”

“There is a major technological evolution around the powertrains of our cars, with biofuel,
hybridisation, maybe electrification… hydrogen seems further down the road. But we will have to find a way to handle this transition.”

I find it absurd that a 16-year-old must pay more than €500,000 for a season of racing

Bertrand Decoster

“The other major issue that motorsport will face is of course the problem of costs, of access to single-seaters. There has been a real problem around that for years and it seems like it’s getting worse. I think it’s time for the FIA to sit around a table and think about that. I find it absurd that a 16-year-old teenager must pay more than €500,000 for a single year. We need to re-democratise single-seaters. It has become a too closed-off world.”

Header photo credit: FFSA Academy

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