French F4: Who’s going where in 2023?

After an exciting final meeting at Paul Ricard last weekend, drivers are already focused on their next challenge. Some already have their future settled, others will have a busy winter trying to gather sponsors. F1 Feeder Series was at Le Castellet to understand drivers’ plans for 2023 and the upcoming French F4 season.

By Perceval Wolff

Alessandro Giusti revealed to F1 Feeder Series he would follow in the footsteps of previous French F4 champions – such as Pierre Gasly, Victor Martins, Hadrien David and Esteban Masson – that he would be making to the step up to FRECA in 2023.

Hugh Barter looks to be destined for FIA F3 next year after two days with Campos team in post-season testing at Jerez earlier this month. The Australian-Japanese driver seems to have secured a deal with the Spanish squad, even though there have been some talks with other teams. With three full F4 seasons in only two years, Barter feels he is definitely ready to make the jump to FIA F3 in 2023. Aware of the full FIA F3 calendar for next year, he told F1 Feeder Series how excited he was that the series will be heading to Australia for the first time.

Red Bull Juniors Souta Arao and Yuto Nomura’s futures are unclear. Their career in Europe is in the hands of the Dr. Helmut Marko who could send them back to Japan if he feels their talent isn’t where it should be at this stage in their career. Arao had a solid season, especially for a maiden year in Europe, with an impressive final third place in the championship, but has made much less of an impact than his compatriot Ayumu Iwasa did in 2020. A couple of options seem to be on the table for him, such as FRECA or Super Formula Lights. Nomura has been a little disappointing, finishing only seventh and is likely to have fewer options for 2023.

Back for more F4

Colombian Jeronimo Berrio has undoubtably been the biggest surprise of the season, finishing sixth and dominating much more experienced drivers for his maiden year of racing in Europe. In talks with MP Motorsport, Berrio has been in contention to go to FRECA or to the championship that could succeed to Euroformula Open. However, the Colombian’s management team has a preference for Berrio to remain in F4, switching to the Spanish championship before targeting FIA F3 in 2024.

Dario Cabanelas is also likely to make the switch to Spanish F4, although a move to Euroformula Open (or the championship that will follow it) is also on the table.

Rookie drivers Louis Pelet and German kart champion Max Reis, are lining up a return to French F4 next year to fight for the title.

All horizons open

Fourth in his first full season of single-seaters, 16-year-old Frenchman Elliott Vayron is unsure of his future and doesn’t know where he will drive in 2023. Vayron had a good season but expected more after scoring three wins in a partial French F4 campaign in 2021. The R8G eSports simracer has excluded doing another year in F4 and would prefer jumping to FRECA, but admitted there are budgetary issues to overcome first.

Like Giusti, Vayron is currently in Japan for ten days of training with the Suzuka Racing School thanks to a partnership with the French Federation. But after this, Vayron doesn’t know if he will participate in FRECA post-season testing but keeping options open.

F1 Feeder Series understands Elliott Vayron will participate in the Porsche Carrera Cup France Junior Programme, with a view to joining the German manufacturer on a full-time basis. The programme’s alumni include drivers Alessandro Ghiretti (2018 South East Asia F4 champion) and GT star Jules Gounon (2013 French F4 runner-up).

Tenth in the final French F4 standings with a single win to his name, Romain Andriolo will also be joining Vayron Porsche Carrera Cup France Junior Programme. Both drivers also tested GT4 cars earlier in the season.

Enzo Peugeot is in a similar situation as Vayron. The 16-year-old had a solid season, scoring two wins and finishing fifth in the standings. If he is successful in finding the right backing, the FEED Racing finalist is eyeing a FRECA seat, but things remain very uncertain for him at this stage.

Ecuadorian racer Mateo Villagomez will switch to LMP3 cars after testing in Germany earlier the year. Lorens Lecertua has announced that representing Belgium at the FIA Motorsport Games at the end of the month would be his final single-seater appearance before joining the Alpine Elf Europa Cup next year.

French F4 in 2023

Some drivers are heavily rumoured to join the FFSA Academy next year. Canadian FEED Racing winner Kevin Foster is the first driver to have been announced. He should be joined by the American Garrett Berry who made his French F4 debut last weekend in preparation for a full campaign next year. After racing karts in the USA then in the UK, Berry tested with the Winfield Racing School during the summer and will receive their continuous support in 2023.

He has chosen to drive in France as “the French championship is fairer when it comes to the cars and tyre strategies,” according to him. “The French championship is the best value for the money you pay” he added.

After Romain Andriolo and Amir Sayed the Winfield Racing School hopes to continue to coach several drivers in the championship, as revealed by former F3000 driver Cyrille Sauvage. “It’s up to the families and the management of the drivers to trust us.”

Several drivers have tested F4 cars during the summer with Winfield such as Mercedes young driver Alex Powell, runner-up of the last OK European Kart Championship. The Jamaican driver could well join French F4 in 2023 according to Sauvage, but the driver coach insists that Mercedes will be the ones taking the final decision.

In the meantime, Sauvage revealed to F1 Feeder Series that the return of the Volant Winfield is postponed for 2023, but that they would still organise several training camps during the off-season at Circuit Paul-Ricard.

Alongside Powell, several other successful kart drivers could join French F4, such as Evan Giltaire and Arthur Poulain who are also talking to Spanish F4 teams. Little brother of FRECA driver Victor Bernier and French FFSA Junior Karting champion last year, Augustin Bernier is believed to make his single-seater debut next year in France.

After introducing Gen2 and 100% biofuel this year, French F4 will not make any further modifications for 2023. The project of introducing hybrid power units with a ‘push-to-pass’ system has not yet been validated by the FIA despite FFSA support. Mygale is also intensively working on an electric-powered F4 car that has been tested on-track and had similar lap times as thermic-powered cars.

French F4 will be back in the new year for the traditional “Coupe de Pâques” (Easter Cup) at Nogaro, for the 1st round of their 2023 season in the 2nd weekend of April.

Header photo credit: Red Bull Content Pool

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