Starting 2nd in Race 1, Japanese Ayumu Iwasa got the better of Meguetounif, before going on to another win. Behind him, a superb duel involved Sami Meguetounif, Isack Hadjar (+11 places) and Ren Sato, who finished in that order.
On the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium for the fifth of the seven rounds of the FIA French F4 Championship, the 14 academicians took advantage of dry but very cool weather for Free Practice and Qualifying, as well as for Race 1. This race saw several changes of position during the laps, with suspense until the end for the podium.
First pole position for Sami Meguetounif
Back after his absence at Paul Ricard, Dutch driver Marijn Kremers was the best in the Free Practice on Friday. But already, Frenchman Sami Meguetounif put the nose of his single-seater in 2nd place in front of Loris Cabirou. Everybody was back on equal terms the next morning for the Qualifying Practice, the FFSA Academy support team having fitted the cars of this magnificent French F4 field with new Pirelli tyres. Two strategies were used in opposition to each other, some preferring to do fast laps from the beginning to the end, while others tried to cool down the tyres during a slower lap, in order to attack the clock at the end of the session. In the end, the second solution produced only a few results on the Belgian circuit.
Japanese driver Ren Sato was the first to set a reference time. He was quickly followed by Rafael Villagomez from Mexico and then by his compatriot Ayumu Iwasa. Sami Meguetounif was feeling quite comfortable on this long circuit of more than 7 km and he increased the pace in the middle of the session to do several high speed laps. The Frenchman took pole position for Race 1 with 2’24″817, before lapping three laps later in 2’24″933, giving him pole position for Race 3. No other driver managed to break the 2’25” barrier, with Iwasa holding on to 2nd place ahead of Sato and Villagomez. Kremers emerged in 5th position in front of German Valentino Catalano, the top Junior, Romain Leroux and Loris Cabirou. Due to a mechanical problem, Isack Hadjar was unlucky and couldn’t complete a single lap!
What a comeback for Isack Hadjar!
Using all their experience gained in Japan, Ren Sato and Ayumu Iwasa made a very incisive start and finished the first lap in 1st and 2nd positions in front of Sami Meguetounif. Marijn Kremers lost two places in the battle, whereas Isack Hadjar found himself in the middle of the pack thanks to a perfectly controlled start. Romain Leroux got the better of Villagomez on the second lap, two places faster than the others. The hierarchy was also in flux at the front of the pack, with Sato losing out to the fast Iwasa and Meguetounif. Things didn’t really get any better for Kremers who fell to 9th position, whereas the races for Owen Tangavelou and Russian driver Lev Lomko were already over.
As the laps went on, the positions were a little bit fixed, except for Hadjar who was still very strong and Leroux who dropped back to 7th behind Villagomez and Catalano. Thanks to the gap built up during the first laps, Iwasa wasn’t worried any further, and the leader of the Championship crossed the finish line as winner… once more! All eyes were then focused on the duel for 2nd place.
Despite a big crash from Sato, who stealthily moved ahead for a few minutes, Meguetounif won the final sprint in front of Hadjar, who set the fastest lap in the race, and Sato. Villagomez took 5th place against the strong Junior winner Catalano, whereas Leroux resisted until the end against Loris Cabirou. Respectively 9th and 10th, Marijn Kremers and Ukrainian driver Ivan Peklin will have the honour of sharing the front row of Race 2 according to the principle of the inverted grid. Moving in front of Daniel Ligier on lap 7, Noah Andy kept his best until the end.
Timetable for Sunday 18th October 2020
Race 2: 10:35
Race 3: 16:20